Down beat Derry 3-19 to 1-09 at Casement Park on Sunday to book their place in the semi final of the Ulster Hurling Championship.
There was a 16 point difference in the final score as Down continued on from their positive form this season, having already beaten Donegal in the previous stage.
Paul Braniff was the outstanding player, scoring one goal and ten points, his goal coming in the seventh minute right after Gareth Johnston struck the back of the net in the third minute to hit Derry hard early on.
Derry kept the game alive in the first half with a goal from Alan Grant, who hit in the rebound of Paddy Henry’s shot which Down goalkeeper Graham Clarke did well to save.
The Oak-Leafers had the wind at their backs in the first 35 minutes but Down’s quick start did not let them use it to their advantage.
This meant that it was 2-07 to 1-06 at the break and the lead did not seem insurmountable for Derry to overcome.
Gerard Monan will be happy with his side’s second half performance; Braniff’s point tally reached double figures and James Coyle’s late goal put an even shinier gloss on the Mourne men’s victory.
Derry were unable to shake their underdog tag and it was evident why Down were favourites, having battled hard in the league above Derry all season.
The first two goal scorers Braniff and Johnston have been banging in the goals for Down all season and Monan will be hoping his two star players can keep up their illustrious performances for the Ulster semi final against Armagh next week.
Casement Park will be the venue and Down should be favourites to go on to beat Armagh if their league form is any indicator, sitting bottom of Division 3A.
Derry’s conqueror’s will most likely be the side to line out in the final against Antrim and will hope to build on their success this season as the Mourne men were unlucky to go out to Kerry in the semi final of the Christy Ring Cup.
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