The Hoops appeared to breathe easier in the depths of extra-time; outscoring the Reds by 0-3 to 0-1 in the final ten minutes to seal a hard-earned victory. That is not to say that Rostrevor might have won the game themselves and would have deserved their victory, if they had done so; but Conor Deegan’s men were aptly rewarded for their greater efficiency in the closing stages.
The two sides shared the spoils on the second day of the season at Pairc Tomas Ruseil; with RGU claiming a narrow victory in Rostrevor in the last meeting between the teams. Therefore, the Hoops were just about fancied to take their place in the quarter finals and started with the greater confidence to take control of the contest from an early stage. In a relatively low-scoring encounter, Michael Magee and Piaras Kane both went close for either side before RGU’s Rory Quinn sent over the game’s first point from close range in the 7th minute.
Anthony Donnan equalised after fine work from Kane, but that was to be the only occasion on which the Reds would be level until second-half stoppage time, as Downpatrick’s power helped them dictate from the middle. A brace of frees from Michael Magee helped the Hoops into a two-point lead by the 24th minute; however, they were wasteful and let the chance to gain a more commanding position slip.
John Fegan sent over from the dead ball to narrow the gap for Rostrevor; but Johnny Bell sent over two excellent points alongside another from Conor McGrady, as Downpatrick carried a four-point lead at the end of a very uneventful opening half; 0-6 to 0-2.
The RGU’s first-half superiority had failed to transfer effectively onto the scoreboard with Rostrevor struggling to compete and that continued in the opening moments of the second period. Peter Telford angled over a fine score in the 35th minute before Anthony Donnan and Michael Magee traded points, as Downpatrick held a five-point advantage entering the final twenty minutes of normal time; 0-8 to 0-3. The arrival of Shaun Parr into the action for the first time this season seemed to spur on the Reds in the remainder of the contest, but as influential were the performances of John Fegan, Jonathan Connolly and Peter Magee in a frenetic period prior to the full-time whistle.
Piaras Kane worked tirelessly in the inside line and found the target on the turn with a Fegan free leaving three points between the sides by the 42nd minute. Rostrevor’s revival continued with Conor Magee finishing a swift counter-attack to drive between the posts to close the gap further entering the final quarter; 0-8 to 0-6. Gerard Collins sent over a point to stop the decline for Downpatrick, but they had fallen onto the back foot and a now rampant Rostrevor piled on the pressure with three scores bringing the sides level in a dramatic conclusion.
The first of these was rather fortuitous with Peter Magee’s delivery bouncing over the crossbar; however, John Fegan found his range to bring a single point between the teams in the 52nd minute. Conor McGrady was red carded for an off-the-ball infringement; which was unneeded for a Downpatrick side that he had provided a good outlet for throughout and his dismissal was starting to seem ominous, as Rostrevor continued to attack.
There was no immediate joy though, with Fegan seeing a free punched clear before both sides shared possession entering stoppage time. John Fegan would step up to great effect though in the second minute of injury time to send the game into an additional twenty minutes with a superb dropping effort; 0-9 to 0-9 at the full-time whistle.
Extra-time was peppered with a number of superb points and the sides shared six between them in the opening period with Caolan Boyd, Jonathan Connolly and Jonathan Parr all sending over excellent points; among others. Rostrevor never led though, and Downpatrick were dominating the middle third and stormed into a two-point lead by the 75th minute with pair of frees from Magee and Eoin Boyle; 0-14 to 0-12.
Richie Reynolds did provide a close-range response, as Rostrevor threatened a late goal at times; however, RGU clearly had more in the tank and Martin Robinson’s late point sealed their passage into the last eight.
RGU DOWNPATRICK 0-15 – 0-13 ROSTREVOR
(after extra time)