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Hurling Derry fall short while Down can only draw

By John Campbell

Derry and Down have already discovered that life will be far from straightforward in Division 2A of the National Hurling League.



Even with home advantage Derry were unable to match Westmeath for pace and power at Celtic Park yesterday and lost by 3-19 to 2-12 while Down were held to a draw by a fired-up Wicklow side.

Goals from Dan Caherty (2) and John Gilligan allied to a nine-point haul from free-taker Brendan Murtagh helped to cement Westmeath’s victory although Derry contributed to their own downfall by failing to protect their possession at crucial stages and missing scoring opportunities.

Paddy Henry, though, kept their hopes alive for long spells and his nine points included eight from frees while Ruairi Convery (1-2) and Alan Grant (1-0) also made handsome contributions.

Derry’s inexperience in some areas of the park did not help their cause but manager Ger Rogan views the league as a learning curve for his side.

Down looked to be on course for victory against Wicklow but three late points from Jonathan O’Neill helped the visitors’ to snatch a draw, Down having totted up 2-11 to their 0-17.

Paul Braniff and Danny Toner landed Down’s goals with the former emerging as the team’s top scorer with 1-6 in a man of the man performance.

Wicklow led by 0-8 to 0-6 at the break but Down displayed plenty of spirit after the break only to be reined in at the finish.

Armagh claimed the scalp of Roscommon at Crossmaglen where Ryan Gaffney scored their goal in a fine 1-10 to 1-14 win over Roscommon.

Marty Maguire scored five points to enhance his reputation.

Armagh are due to meet Mayo next week-end which will prove a much stiffer test.

In Division 3A, Tyrone turned in an impressive display to overcome Donegal by 0-24 to 1-10, a result that will certainly bolster their promotion prospects.

And in Division 3B Fermanagh showed grit and staying power to get the better of a feisty Warwickshire side.

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