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Published: 15:14 | 5/6/16

Monaghan progress past Down

Second-half blitz from hosts destroys Mourne men

Monaghan progressed to the semi-finals of the Ulster Senior Football Championship with a 2-22 to 0-9 victory over Down in Clones.

Underdogs Down started the affair extremely brightly, although goalkeeper Stephen Kane had to be brave and alert to deny Dermot Malone.

With the wides stacking up for the visitors, however, Monaghan led by two points (0-8 to 0-6) at the break.

Down had spent the best of what they had to offer in the first half, and Malachy O'Rourke’s side pulled away in the second period, with Kieran Hughes’s first Championship goal being the nail in the Mourne men’s coffin.

The Farney troops, who also found the net through Owen Duffy late in the encounter, go on to face the winners of next weekend’s Donegal-Fermanagh clash in the last four of the Ulster competition.

Down had led at the end of the opening quarter at St. Tiernach's Park thanks to a brace of Barry O'Hagan scores and two long-range Darragh O'Hanlon frees.

Successive frees from Conor McManus, though, and a Shane Carey point moved Monaghan ahead for the first time on the day.

Down drew level on two occasions in the lead up to the interval but a pair of fine McManus strikes and an effort from Malone ensured that the Farney men had the edge at the short whistle.

Monaghan moved into a healthy lead during the early stages of the second half, and when Hughes raced through onto a loose ball and drove a strike into the net, the victory for the favourites was effectively confirmed.

Donal O'Hare helped Down to restore some pride but Duffy's neat finish, after being found by Conor McCarthy, secured Monaghan’s second goal and provided further gloss to the ultimately comprehensive win.

With Monaghan moving on to the Ulster semis, Down drop into the All-Ireland Qualifiers series.

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