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Derry on charge after Paul Cleary's magic proves vital

Derry 0-23 Down 2-12

At the end of an absorbing contest at Owenbeg, Derry emerged victorious by five points in a Christy Ring Cup semi-final that was level on six occasions in the first half and four times more by the 48th minute before the Oak Leafs pulled away with a barrage of points.

Derry's Paul Cleary, the man of the match, turned in a stunning display of clinical finishing, all six of his points coming from open play.

With Ruairi Convery at his mercurial best, his seven points a mixture of placed balls and open play, Derry racked up their best points tally of the season at just the right time.

But even including the 13 points from these two players, the Oak Leafs were still put to the pin of their collar to hold off the determined challenge of Down.

Gareth Johnson's goal put the Mournemen 1-02 to 0-02 ahead in the eighth minute before, eight minutes into the second half, a second from James Coyle tied up the score at 2-08 to 0-14.

Derry, however, finished with a flurry to qualify for a final meeting with Kerry next Saturday.

DERRY: D McDermott, M Warnock, C Quinn, S McCullagh, A Rafferty 0-1, C McSorley, K Hinphey, S McGuigan, B Quigley, P McCloskey 0-1, P Cleary 0-6, P Henry 0-5, 0-4 f, A Kelly, R Convery 0-7, 0-4f, A Grant 0-3

Yellow Card: M Warnock 28

Subs: J O'Dwyer for A Kelly 54; L Hinphey for B Quigley 57; D Flanagan for P McCloskey 65; N Ferris for A Grant 65; R McCloskey for M Warnock 70

DOWN: S Keith; M Conlan, P Flynn, M Hughes; D McManus 0-1, C Woods, M McCullough; D Hughes, F Conway 0-1; M Ennis 0-1, D Toner, S Dineen 0-2; C Egan, G Johnson 1-5, 0-3 frees, J Coyle 1-1

Yellow Cards: F Conway 35; M Conlan 50

Subs: S Nicholson 0-1 for D Hughes H-T; B Nicholson for C Woods 54; P Sheahan for D Toner 58; E Sands for J Coyle 63

Referee: Owen Elliott (Antrim)

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