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Derry's rising stars see off Down

Derry 2-12 Down 1-11

By Sean Kelly

Derry led from start to finish to ease past Down in an Ulster U-21 FC preliminary round tie in Celtic Park.

A second-half goal from Niall Loughlin was decisive as the Oak Leafers set up a quarter-final tie away to Monaghan next Wednesday.

Both sets of full-forward lines all scored from play by half-time. Derry got off to a dream start and scored an unanswered 1-3 in the opening five minutes, Niall Toner with the goal.

Rory Mason opened Down's scoring with a point in the sixth minute before Derry wing-back Jarlath Bradley was black carded.

Pat Havern, who had an early goal disallowed for a push in the back, flicked the ball to the net in 19th minute.

Two excellent long-range points from Terence O'Brien gave Derry a 1-8 to 1-5 half-time lead and Loughlin added a second goal after 43 minutes. Down pushed hard with three points in a row but Derry held on.

SCORERS: Derry: N Loughlin 1-4 (3f), T O'Brien 0-3, N Toner 1-0, J Kearney, N McNicholl, P McElroy, C Murphy, D Tallon 0-1 each.

Down: R Mason 0-6 (4f), P Havern 1-1 (1f), C Foy, C Rodgers. M Devlin 0-1 each, C Gallagher 0-1 ('45').

DERRY: B McKinless; A Hargan, M Sweeney, D Brown; J Bradley, L McGoldrick, P McElroy; N McNicholl, C McAtamney; J Kearney, T O'Brien, P Cassidy; N Loughlin, C Murphy, N Toner. Subs: R McDonnell for Bradley (BC, 11), D Tallon for Cassidy (45), J Rocks for McElroy (58), D Mullan for Sweeney (60).

DOWN: M Reid; A McDonald, A Beattie, A Fulcher; A Doherty, R Burns, R Wells; C Devlin, J McKinney; M Devlin, C Foy, A Magee; P Havern, R Mason, C Gallagher. Subs: R McAlinden for Magee (38), S Cochrane for Beattie (43), C Rodgers for McKinney (43), T Murdock for McDonald (47), K Rice for Gallagher (50).

Referee: N Mooney (Cavan)

The Ulster Under-21 championship will be played to a finish inside a month, with the four quarter-finals taking place next Wednesday.

The holders, Cavan, who face rivals Donegal in Ballybofey next week, are going for five in a row at Under-21 level.

Ulster Under-21 Football Championship 2015 fixtures: Wednesday March 18: Quarter-finals: Tyrone v Fermanagh (Healy Park); Armagh v Antrim (Athletic Grounds); Donegal v Cavan (Ballybofey); Monaghan v Derry (Inniskeen); Wednesday April 1: Semi-finals: Tyrone/Fermanagh v Armagh/Antrim; Donegal/Cavan v Monaghan/Derry/Down; Wednesday April 8: Final.

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