Red Hugh’s may be two points better off in Division Three of the All-County Football League, but there was no question who was the better side on Sunday last.
Red Hugh’s 0-5
Downings hit the Cross in Killygordon on Sunday just above the dreaded relegation play off zone and two points adrift of their opponents.
But they departed with a six point winning margin – thoroughly deserved – at the end of game they dominated for long periods and having taken a giant stride towards a place in the quarter-final.
With seven different scorers to Red Hugh’s three, Downings, with Danny McBride, in brilliant form in the half-back line and Shay Coyle raking the skies and driving forward, put in a top class performance.
Physicially stronger, they won all the key battles and despite playing into a strong first half breeze, they had theyback broken on the contest as they led 0-8 to 0-1 at half-time. Their closing three points from Gary Ban McClafferty and two from Shay Coyle all were scored in time added on at the end of the half.
Eric Roberts, David Hay - up from full-back – Gary ‘Ban’ McClafferty (2), Andy Connor and Shay Coyle (2) all lit up the scoreboard after Red Hugh’s Gary Kelly kicked the game’s opening score, their only score of the half.
Red Hugh’s, who lined out without the injured Damien and Eugene Browne, also lost Kelly, the anchor at centre- half-back, to a shoulder injury in the middle of the first period.
Surprisingly, through possibly, a combination of feeling they had the job done and a little more fire from Red Hugh’s, the winners did not have it is as easy as anticipated after half-time.
Colm Melaugh and Padraig McMenamin hit a point each for the locals to just a single Gary Ban strike in a low scoring third quarter before Aaron McClafferty and Micheal Bradley got in on the scoring act to close out the game with close on a quarter hour remaining.
Colm Melaugh converted frees on 53 and 63 minutes to add a degree of respectability on the scoreboard for an off colour Red Hugh’s.
Red Hugh’s: Luke Kelly; Shane Gallagher, Sean Sweeney, Peadar McGlinchey; Thomas McMenamin, Gary Kelly (0-1), Karl Gallen; Michael McMenamin, Gerard Melaugh; Padraig McMenamin (0-1), Calvin Bradley, Ryan Kelly; P.J. Gallagher, Marty Bonner, Colm Melaugh (0-3,3f). Subs: Kevin Melaugh for G. Kelly (15 inj); Gary Kelly for K. Melaugh (h/t); Kevin Melaugh for G. Kelly (48).
Downings: Brendan McGee; Seamus Gallagher, David Hay (0-1), Gerard Coyle; Danny McBride, James McBride, Micheal Bradley (0-1); Sean McBride, Shay Coyle (0-2); Andy Connor (0-1), Aaron McClafferty (0-1), Sean McGinley; Patrick McGroddy, Gary ‘Ban’ McClafferty (0-4, 2f), Eric Roberts (0-1).
Referee: Kevin Doherty ( Letterkenny Gaels).
Man of the Match
Downings wing back Danny McBride was the standout player on view. He covered across the half-back line and prompted and probed and drove forward with great purpose at every opportunity. Without question he was the man of the match.
The three points in first half injury time from Gary ‘Ban’ McClafferty and Shay Coyle (2) sent Downings in seven points up 0-8 to 0-1 in front at half-time.
Kevin Doherty let the game flow and made his share of marginal calls and as a consequence a number of challenges went unpunished while on a number of other occasions the slightest contact was judged a free.
But overall he kept good control and had a reasonably good outing.