Down have it all to do in London

Down have it all to do in London

30 May 2012

DOWN’S hurlers twice came from behind to grind out a draw with London in an exciting Christy Ring Cup semi final at Pairc Esler, Newry, on Saturday.

Down had to play for almost half the match without their star scoring forward Paul Braniff, who received a red card five minutes into the second half.

It was certainly a harsh decision on the Portaferry star whose blocked effort was mild compared to others that went unpunished by a fussy referee.

At that stage Down were leading by three points with Braniff having slotted over eight points from placed balls. London took advantage of their extra man to score seven unanswered points in the final 20 minutes to take a three-point lead.

Two minutes into added time Down centre half back Conor Woods fired a brilliant 35-metre free to the London net to send the game into extra time. London left half back Lee Mackey received a second yellow card and was dismissed with seconds of the game remaining.

With both sides restored to full strength for extra time, each scored five points but again with time up Down were trailing by a point. They were awarded a long range free and Michael Turley (inset) became their saviour with a brilliant long range pointed free to send both teams to Ruislip for the replay next Saturday.

This was a battling performance from Down. They fielded without corner back Paul Smyth, with Eoin Clarke coming in at midfield and Michael Ennis moving to full back and Sean Ennis to the corner back position.

The half back line of Fintan Conway, Conor Woods and Michael Cunningham were most impressive, as was Michael Ennis. Andy Savage and Eoin Clarke shared midfield honours.

Down: S. Keith; S. Ennis, M. Ennis, J. Smyth; F. Conway, C. Woods (1-0 free), M. Cunningham; A. Savage (0-1), E. Clarke; P. Sheehan (0-4), P. Braniff (0-8, 0-7 frees, 0-1 65), A. O’Prey; C. Mageean, D. Hughes (0-1), M. Turley (0-6, 0-2 frees). Subs: P. Smyth for J. Smyth, C. Bailie for Mageean; D. Hobbs for Sheehan, E. McGuinness for O’Prey, P. Keith (0-1), A. Clarke for McGuinness, C. Mageean for Hughes.

Down 1-21

London 1-21