Down secure McKenna Cup

DOWN 1-12 DERRY 1-6, Casement Park

A crowd of 5,325 watched on at Casement Park last night as Down secured their first McKenna Cup title since 1998 by beating Derry by six points.

It was another encouraging performance for the Mourne men with half-forward Daniel Hughes, who scored 0-4, scooping the man-of-the-match award.

Although Derry goaled in the 49th-minute through All-Star Paddy Bradley, they were made pay for poor kicking in front of the posts with 11 wides in the first half.

A solid display from the Down attack in the first 35 minutes stood to them and they sealed the win with a Conor Gribben fisted goal in the 63rd-minute.

Derry certainly were not without their chances in the opening quarter, but Paddy Crozier's charges finished this period scoreless as a lively Down attack showed a more clinical touch.

Hughes was Down's dynamo at this early stage. He picked off two excellent points while he was also involved in his side's third point, which came from the boot of John Clarke in the 16th-minute.

Both Ray Wilkinson and Colin Devlin were wide of the target for the Oak Leafers before Down had the first real goal chance of the contest.

Ross Carr's men were winning the crucial midfield battle and Hughes was again involved before Derry goalkeeper John Deehan pulled off an excellent save from a Kevin McKernan shot.

Down continued to pile on the pressure with points from Hughes and McKernan before Derry eventually got off the mark, thanks to a Paddy Bradley pointed free in the 25th-minute.

Based on possession, Derry should have been lording it and certainly rued those numerous first half wides. Hughes continued to cause problems for the Derry defence and finished the opening half with three points as Down went in at the break with a 0-6 to 0-1 lead.

The Mourne men continued to cause havoc in the opening minutes of the second half, with John Clarke setting the tone with a point after 15 seconds.

However Derry suddenly sprung to life with points from Ryan Kiely and Enda Muldoon to cut the gap to four points with as many minutes gone in the second half.

But Down continued to play effectively and points from Jackie Lynch, John Clarke and John Fegan helped to open up a seven-point lead with 25 minutes left on the clock.

The introduction of Kevin McCloy and Eoin Bradley gave Derry a huge boost and their team-mates responded accordingly with a well placed ball from Eoin finding his brother Paddy who succeeded in rifling the ball past Brendan McVeigh in the Down goal.

Four points now separated the sides but Down once again found the hunger they displayed in the opening half and went in search of a goal of their own.

Cathal McGee fed the onrushing Ronan Sexton who forced Derry net minder John Deehan to pull off a fine save and force a '45' which Kevin McKernan failed to convert.

Derry could not build on the momentum of Bradley's goal and Carr's side continued to dominate in the closing ten minutes.

Gribben's fisted goal, after a ball in from Packie Downey, ended the game as a contest and a delighted Dan Gordon lifted the trophy afterwards.

Scorers -

Down: Daniel Hughes 0-4, Conor Gribben 1-0, John Clarke 0-3, Ronan Sexton, Kevin McKernan, Liam Doyle (0-1f), Jack Lynch, John Fegan (0-1f) 0-1 each.

Derry: Paddy Bradley 1-2 (0-1f), Eoin Bradley 0-2, Ryan Kiely, Enda Muldoon (0-1f) 0-1 each.

DOWN: Brendan McVeigh; Ciaran McGovern, Gary McArdle, Martin Cole; Darren O'Hanlon, Liam Doyle, Kevin McGuigan; Dan Gordon, Jackie Lynch; John Fegan, Kevin McKernan, Daniel Hughes; John Clarke, Cathal McGee, Ronan Sexton.

Subs used: Colm Murney for McGovern, Packie Downey for J Clarke (both 44 mins), Conor Gribben for McKernan (57), Ronan Murtagh for McGee (66).

DERRY: John Deehan; Kevin McGuckin, Liam Hinphey, John Deighan; Michael McBride, Joe Keenan, Ryan Kiely; Enda Muldoon, Aidan McElhone; Enda Lynn, Cathal O'Kane, Ray Wilkinson; Colin Devlin, Paddy Bradley, Sean Leo McGoldrick.

Subs used: Enda Muldoon for Devlin, Paul Murphy for C O'Kane (both 28 mins), Eoin Bradley for Lynn (40), Kevin McCloy for McElhone (48), Ciaran Mullan for Wilkinson (64).

Referee: Michael Hughes (Tyrone)

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