Down ease past Mayo in Christy Ring semi

Down 4-21 Mayo 0-14

Down were in cruise control in the second half of this Pairc Esler encounter as they reeled off four goals to power past Mayo and seal a spot in the Christy Ring Cup final.

Mayo burst out of the blocks early on and led by 0-3 to 0-2 after six minutes, with Adrian Freeman converting all of their early scores.

But with Simon Wilson and Gareth Johnson on fire, Down took a 0-10 to 0-9 half-time lead.

Down scored 3-7 without reply on the restart as the visitors were firmly kept at bay, with Andy Savage and Gabriel Clarke excelling at midfield for the hosts.

Paul Branniff, James Coyle and Eoin Clarke bagged goals for Jim McKernan’s charges as they built up an stunning 17-point advantage with 16 minutes remaining.

Mayo's first score of the second half arrived in the 55th minute, from a free from Keith Higgins.

Down, though, were firmly in command and held out for a comfortable victory, with 'Magic' Johnson slamming home the fourth goal in the closing stages.

Scorers for Down: G Johnston 1-5 (0-1f), S Wilson 0-7 (0-3f, 0-1 '65', 0-1 pen), J Coyle 1-3, P Braniff 1-2 (0-1f), E Clarke, 1-1, C Woods 0-2, M Ennis 0-1

Scorers for Mayo: A Freeman (0-4f), K Higgins (0-3f, 0-1 pen) 0-6 each, D McConn, E Madigan 0-1 each

DOWN: Graham Clarke; A Dynes, S Murray, S Ennis; F Conway, R McGrattan, M Ennis; A Savage, K Courtney; C Woods, P Braniff, S Wilson; J Coyle, G Johnson, E Clarke.

Subs used: C O’Prey for Dynes (22 mins), Gabriel Clarke for Ennis (43), M Coulter for Wilson (55), P Flynn for S Ennis (60), D Ennis for Graham Clarke (64).

MAYO: M Walsh; K McGrath, A Connolly, P Hunt; B Higgins, P Barrett, C Ryan; K Higgins, P Higgins; E Madigan, D McDonnell, D Dowling; A Freeman, D McConn, C Freeman.

Subs used: S Broderick for McDonnell (half-time), T Duffy for M Walsh

(48 mins), M Devaney for C Freeman (49), C Hynes for Dowling, S Hoban for A Freeman (both 60).

REFEREE: Anthony Stapleton (Laois)

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