Down made to dig deep by rugged Armagh
Down just managed to hold off the feisty challenge of Armagh to capture an early brace of points in Division 2B of the Allianz Hurling League at the Athletic Grounds yesterday.
While Down looked to have the edge in technique, Armagh showed considerable courage and character as they stayed in touch with their opponents for the greater part of the showdown.
An Armagh goal by John Corvan elicited a similar score for Down from Conor Mageean and the sides remained neck and neck.
Down's greater experience began to show through in the closing stages, however, when Scott Nicholson, Caolan Bailie and Conor Bailie stepped up to help take their side to victory by 2-16 to 2-14.
New Tyrone boss Kevin Ryan saw his side start their Division 3A campaign in encouraging fashion by beating Monaghan by 2-18 to 2-13.
Ryan has only been in his post a very short time but already his influence is being felt, it would seem.
Skipper Damien Casey was once again the Red Hands scoring dynamo with nine points in all, as his side flashed an early warning that they could prove promotion candidates.
Matthew Mulgrew's early goal also helped to lift Tyrone and manager Ryan can certainly take heart from this performance.
Donegal showed real battling qualities against Mayo but eventually lost by 1-14 to 0-13 in Division 2B.
Donegal, made up of a mixture of youth and experience, performed well in the first-half against a physical, rugged Mayo side but the north-west outfit fell away as the second-half progressed.