Ulster U20 Football: Down's Ruairi O'Hare dedicates win to late friend

By Niamh CampbellBBC Sport NI
Down and Monaghan players embrace after U20 Ulster Final

“There’s bigger things than football here.”

The Ulster U20's football final between Down and Monaghan was full of emotion. It was the first game for Monaghan since the passing of their captain, Brendan Óg Ó Dufaigh, who died in a car crash after their semi-final win over Donegal.

Down won Friday's final at the Athletic Grounds 3-15 to 1-14 after extra-time and the post-match interview with man of the match, Down's Ruairi O’Hare, was charged with sentiment.

“My condolences goes to the Monaghan boys,” he told TG4 in his post-match interview.

“My friend passed away nearly two years ago. We had to go and play a relegation play-off a week-and-a-half after.

“I know that feeling in the stomach that they’re having now. It’s not nice. I was able to get over the line that day but it’s not nice for them boys.

“There’s bigger things than football here and I would just like to dedicate this to my mate, Niall Laverty. I love him so much, I miss him every day and I wish he was here now.”

Brendan & Esther Og Duffy
The parents of Brendan Og Duffy, Brendan and Esther, were at Friday's final in Armagh

All-Ireland aims for Mournemen

Down’s U20 provincial win is a first title for the county at this level since 2009 and Conor Laverty’s side will now face Roscommon in the All-Ireland semi-final.

Monaghan were dominant in the match’s opening moments, with O’Hare’s goal in the seventh minute putting Down in the lead for the first time in the game.

The squads matched each other back and forth throughout, with Monaghan's Darragh McElearney netting the Farney’s only goal and helping them lead 1-9 to 1-7 at half-time.

Andrew Gilmore's goal put Down up again and while Monaghan forced extra-time, Justin Clarke lambasted the ball in the back of the net to seal the win for the red-and-blacks.