When? Sunday August 1, 1999
What? Ulster Minor Football Final
Wh0? Donegal 0-10 Down 0-10
Where? St Tiernach’s Park, Clones
Whistler? Michael Hughes, Tyrone
A LOOK through the respective team lineouts provides some indication of the talent on display in what turned out to be a highly entertaining provincial decider.
Both teams fielded a host of players who went on to become senior stars. For Donegal there was Colm McFadden, Kevin Cassidy and Christy Toye, while Down’s challenge on that occasion 16 years ago was led by Brendan Grant, Liam Doyle, Ronan Sexton and Benny Coulter.
The Mourne men were favourites to take the title on account of their earlier win over the All-Ireland champions, Tyrone. But they found those ambitions dashed for the moment by determined opponents.
It was, though, one of the supposedly lesser lights who shone brightest. Sean Sweeney in the Donegal goal pulled off a number of fine saves which kept them in contention at critical stages.
This combined with Down’s poor shooting helped Donegal grab the initiative and they led by 0-5 to 0-2 at half-time, with Eamon Sweeney at midfield and Kevin Rafferty doing well.
Urgent action was needed from the Mourne men and they duly delivered, with Benny Coulter and Ronan Murtagh upping the pace. They were soon level and then John Fegan edged them ahead entering the final quarter.
The teams were level on a number of occasions subsequently, before the final frantic moments saw John Fegan edge Down ahead after good work from Michael Walsh.
However, it was Christy Toye who had the final say, firing over the equaliser to set up a replay which Down won on their way to an All-Ireland title.