Ulster SFC: Monaghan hammer Down 2-22 to 0-9 in Clones quarter-final
|Ulster Championship quarter-final: Monaghan 2-22 0-9 Down|
|Monaghan scorers: C McManus 0-8; K Hughes 1-2; O Duffy 1-0: R Beggan 0-3; C McCarthy 0-2; S Carey 0-1; D Malone 0-1; R McAnespie 0-1; K O'Connell 0-1; D McKenna 0-2, D Clerkin 0-1|
|Down scorers: B O'Hagan 0-1; C Maginn 0-2; D O'Hanlon 0-2; M Poland 0-1, D O'Hare 0-3|
Holders Monaghan set up an Ulster Football semi-final against either Donegal or Fermanagh as Down wilted in dismal fashion at Clones.
The Mournemen led 0-4 to 0-2 after a promising start but five Conor McManus points helped Monaghan move into a fortunate 0-9 to 0-6 lead by the break.
Down sub Donal O'Hare hit the first point after half-time but Monaghan responded with an unanswered 1-7.
Kieran Hughes hit Monaghan's first goal with Owen Duffy netting late on.
Down collapse after first-half promise
Down fans can point to a couple of highly debatable frees awarded by referee Conor Lane in the first half which led to Monaghan points but there could be no excuse for the Mourne County's awful second-half display.
Half-time substitute O'Hare reduced Monaghan's lead to two three minutes after the restart but Down failed to register another score for 25 minutes.
After a relatively subdued first half in open play, McManus slotted a superb score to extend Monaghan's lead to 0-11 to 0-7 in the 43rd minute.
As Down's resolve visibly weakened, Monaghan added a further 1-5 without reply as Hughes rammed in their first goal in the 60th minute after McManus had flicked on a long ball.
Duffy's 67th-minute continued the misery for a Down team that suffered relegation from Division One of the Football League in the Spring following seven straight defeats.
O'Rourke wins tactical battle at Clones
Underdogs Down produced a lively start as their running game left Monaghan looking rather sluggish.
Two successive long-range Darragh O'Hanlon frees put the Mournemen 0-4 to 0-2 ahead after 17 minutes but Down missed a number of other straightforward placed balls which contributed to a damaging first-half wides tally of nine.
The sides were level late in the first half but a harsh call against Kevin McKernan after he brushed against Kieran Hughes began a run of three quick Monaghan points before the interval, with McManus pointing two frees.
Tactically, Monaghan boss Malachy O'Rourke's decision to push up on Down's kick-outs midway through the half was a masterstroke after Mourne keeper Stephen Kane's early success in finding team-mates.
Down wilt in Clones heat
After Down's failure to take several first-half chances, the arrival of injury-affected O'Hare was a logical step but his early score only provoked Monaghan to take complete control of the contest.
Monaghan's greater physicality became markedly obvious in the second period as Down lost possession in numerous tackles, which allowed the Farney men to break at pace.
Corner-back Colin Walshe, named man of the match, was among the Monaghan defenders to charge forward with wing-back Karl O'Connell among the scorers.
Goalkeeper Rory Beggan again showed his place kicking prowess by firing over three long-range kicks but such was the paucity of Down's second-half efforts, it's hard to accurately assess this Monaghan display.
Monaghan: R Beggan; C Walshe, D Wylie, R Wylie; D Mone, V Corey, K O'Connell; K Duffy, K Hughes; S Carey, D Malone, R McAnespie; C McCarthy, D Hughes, C McManus.
Down: S Kane; G Collins, G McGovern, D O'Hagan; D McKibbin, A Carr, D O'Hanlon; P Turley, K McKernan; C Maginn, M Poland, J Murphy; C McGovern, C Harrison, B O'Hagan.
WEEKEND GAA RESULTS
Monaghan 2-22 0-09 Down
Leinster SHC quarter-finals
Westmeath 0-19 3-27 Galway
Offaly 3-22 Laois 2-14
Munster SHC semi-final
Clare 0-17 1-21 Waterford
Laois 2-10 2-21 Dublin
Christy Ring Cup final
Antrim 1-20 2-18 Meath
Nicky Rackard Cup final
Mayo 2-16 1-15 Armagh
Lory Meagher Cup final
Louth 4-15 4-11 Louth