Fintan Conway double puts Down into league's decider
Down 2-8 Meath 0-11
Down's hurlers secured a place in the Allianz League Division 2B final with a workmanlike three-point win over Meath at Ballycran yesterday.
Two first-half goals from Fintan Conway provided the foundation for Down's victory which sets up a promotion decider against Wicklow on Saturday week.
Meath looked sharp early on when corner forward Willie McGrath fired over the opening two scores.
But on the 10-minute mark, Conway raised his first green flag to give Down the lead and, although Jack Regan levelled moments later, Conway was then on hand to meet Scott Nicholson's sideline cut and fire home his second goal.
At the other end, Stephen Morris forced a great save from Stephen Keith, but with Danny Toner, Sean Ennis and Donal Hughes all on target for the home side, Down edged into a five-point lead by the 25th minute.
Meath sprang injured talisman Steven Clynch from the bench and the Kilmessan man had an immediate impact, stroking over two points to cut the gap to three by the half-hour mark. However Down took a 2-5 to 0-6 advantage into the second half after Conway and Fintan Woods (f) added points.
The gap was three points by the 45-minute mark when Clynch and Derek Doran split the posts, with Sean Ennis replying with the first of just three second-half points from Down.
Michael Burke notched Meath's ninth point, but despite wind advantage and plenty of possession, the Royals were unable to close the gap with Hughes and Woods putting just enough daylight between the sides to see Down over the line.
Down: S Keith; M Conlon, P Flynn, M Hughes; B Nicholson, C Woods (0-2f), P Hughes; F Conway (2-1), S Ennis (0-2); D Toner (0-1), C O'Neill, D Hughes (0-2); C Bailie, J McCusker, S Nicholson. Subs: M Turley for S Nicholson, C O'Prey for D Toner, P Sheehan for C O'Neill
Meath: C Bird; D Donoghue, S Brennan, S Witty; S Heavey, J Toher, P Farrell; M Burke (0-1), S Morris; D Healy, J Regan (0-1f), C Fitzsimons (0-2); W McGrath (0-3), D Doran (0-1), A Gannon. Subs: S Clynch (0-3, 2f) for J Regan, G Kelly for M Burke, S Geraghty for D Healy
Referee: G Duffy (Antrim).