Allianz FL D2: Harrison nets decisive goal
Allianz Football League Division 2
DOWN 1-14 LOUTH 0-11
By Dan Bannon at the Gaelic Grounds Drogheda
Down got off to the perfect start in the Allianz Football League away to neighbours Louth in the Gaelic Grounds, Drogheda.
Eamonn Burns side showed their pedigree via 2017 All-Star nominee Connaire Harrison to put the Leinster side to the sword.
Operating in the top two divisions in recent seasons also told as the newly promoted Louth team struggled with the pace of the game for large parts.
The impact from the Down bench was the difference between two sides. Burns was able to bring on the players of the calibre of Kevin McKernan, Donal O’Hare and their captain from last season Darren O’Hagan.
Louth full forward William Woods made his debut and settled himself and Louth down on the day with two free’s to give the underdogs a deserving early lead.
Sluggish Down finally adjusted to the heavy Drogheda pitch to respond with four.
Niall Donnelly, Aaron Morgan, the powerful running Caolan Mooney got the scoreboard ticking. The Rostrevor man acclimatised well to the blustery conditions after his stint in the AFL. Shay Millar pushed the visitors further ahead.
Those four points were from long distance and ability to adapt to the wind was impressive. After some wayward shooting it took Louth 22 minutes of an hour to get off the mark from play and it was Woods again.
The Mourne men found it easier to score via Darragh O’Hanlon free), Morgan again and sharp Harrison gave them a 3-1 scoring run at the end of the half. Midfielder Tommy Durnin with Louth’s.
That scoring tally into half time Down would in fact built up a solid foundation for victory. After the restart Durnin notched another sublime effort to try and kickstart a Louth comeback in vain.
O’Hanlon punished Louth’s indiscipline as the pressure grew with two frees either side of McKernan and O’Hare points from the bench as Down turned the screw.
Louth did in fact muster a mini revival. Scoring four on the trot themselves from Woods (two frees), Andy McDonnell and Derek Maguire the lead cut to two.
Class prevailed as Harrison took Down from a scare to comfort with a brace of points and scrappy, but clinical goal.
*Scorers for Down: *Connaire Harrison 1-3, Darragh O’Hanlon 0-3 (3fs), Aaron Morgan and Caolan Mooney 0-2 each, Niall Donnelly, and Shay Millar, Donal O’Hare and Kevin McKernan 0-1 each.
Scorers for Louth: William Woods 0-6 (5fs), Tommy Durnin 0-2, Derek Maguire 0-2, Andy McDonnell 0-1.
DOWN: Shane Harrison; Colm Flanagan,Gearárd McGovern, Brendan McArdle; Darragh O’Hanlon, Niall McParland, Anthony Doherty; Conor Poland, Niall Donnelly; Shay Millar, Conor Maginn, Caolan Mooney; Aaron Morgan, Connaire Harrison, Sean Dornan.
Subs: Donal O’Hare for S Dornan (HT), Kevin McKernan for C Maginn (41) Darren O’Hagan for A Doherty (45) David McKibbin for D Donnelly (49).
LOUTH: Craig Lynch; John Bingham, Emmet Carolan, James Craven; Darren Marks, Bevan Duffy, Anthony Williams; Tommy Durnin, Andy McDonnell; Conall McKeever; Gerard McSorley, William Woods, Declan Byrne.
Subs: James Stewart for C McKeever (34), Conor Grimes for J Stewart (56), Ronan Holcroft for D Byrne (57), Tadhg McEneaney for G McSorley (67).
REFEREE: Cormac Reilly (Meath).