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New-found belief will fuel Down, says Burns

Derry 1-07 Down 1-15

By Steven Doherty

Down are at it again. The men from the Mournes backed up last week's impressive win over Meath with an even more emphatic victory over Derry at Celtic Park.

Eamonn Burns' side were full value for their eight-point win over a disappointing Oak Leafs as Down's forwards enjoyed a field day with Darragh O'Hanlon, Ryan Johnston and Barry O'Hagan all weighing in heavily.

Down blitzed Derry early on, and Damian Barton's side never really recovered from that opening salvo. Conor Maginn's 25th-minute point handed Down a hugely unexpected 1-10 to no score lead. It was no more than the much maligned Mourne side deserved.

"I'm delighted," said Burns. "I didn't think we would be that far ahead but they used the ball well and took the scores when they presented themselves."

Buoyed by last week's long-awaited win over Meath, the Mournemen played throughout the first half with new-found confidence.

Johnston's goal after 20 minutes typified their play and everything that was good about Down.

An early ball fizzed into livewire O'Hagan, who won possession and fed the on-running Johnston. The Kilcoo man blazed a rapid trail to the Derry goal and drilled the ball past Thomas Mallon.

Caolan Mooney was also highly influential for Down in the opening phases of the game, hot footing it forward to convert their second and third points of a very one-sided opening quarter. O'Hagan was even better. The Clonduff marksman was simply unplayable with few Derry defenders able to lay a glove on him as he zipped one way then the next before dissecting the posts at regular intervals.

"I was very impressed with Barry and all the players," continued Burns. "To get the ball to Barry, people out the field have to work very, very hard but when we did get it in to him he managed to use it intelligently and he got a few scores for himself."

Derry flickered briefly just before half-time with Emmett McGuckin bagging his second goal in as many weeks, and captain Enda Lynn leading by example, but Down were home and hosed at 1-11 to 1-3 up at the break.

Back-to-back O'Hanlon frees extended the Down lead to 10 points soon after the restart as the men in black and red bolted the door on their opponents.

Down's sizeable lead was always enough to ward off any thoughts Derry may have harboured for a fightback. They face Kildare next with promotion very much in their sights.

"Confidence is a big boost to any team and we'd be no different," maintained Down manager Burns.

"We're happy with back-to-back wins and the next match is Kildare. At the minute we'll try and get these boys back down and we'll do a bit of rehab work tomorrow night. Then our focus will switch to Kildare and it'll be a tough task."

The Oak Leafs have a fortnight to right a few wrongs before a daunting visit to Pearse Stadium to face Galway.

Derry: Thomas Mallon 6, Niall Keenan 6, Conor Nevin 5, Conor McGrogan 5, Neil Forester 6, Oisin Duffin 5, Michael McEvoy 5, James Kielt 6, Conor McAtamney 8, Enda Lynn 8, Emmett McGuckin 8, Carlus McWilliams 7, Ryan Bell 6, Niall Loughlin 6, Benny Heron 6

Subs: Barry Grant 5 for R Bell (39), Mark Craig 7 for O Duffin (49), Gavin O'Neill 5 for C Nevin (55), Ciaran Mullan 6 for C McCrogan (63)

Down: Michael Cunningham 7, Ryan McAleenan 7, Gerard McGovern 7, Darren O'Hagan 8, Darragh O'Hanlon 9, Brendan McArdle 8, Caolan Mooney 8, Aidan Carr 8, Peter Turley 7, Kevin McKernan 9, Conor Maginn 8, Joe Murphy 7, Shay Millar 7, Barry O'Hagan 9, Ryan Johnston 9

Subs: Niall Donnelly 6 for G McGovern (HT), Jerome Johnston 6 for B O'Hagan (65), Alan Davidson 6 for Johnston, Paul Devlin 6 for J Murphy, Mark Poland 5 for S Millar (70), Cathal Magee 6 for C Maginn (70)

Referee: P Neilan (Roscommon)

Scorers:

Down: Darragh O'Hanlon (0-6, 0-1f), Ryan Johnston 1-1, Barry O'Hagan 0-3, Caolan Mooney 0-3, Joe Murphy 0-1, Conor Maginn 0-1

Derry: Emmett McGuckin 1-2, Conor McAtamney 0-2, Benny Heron 0-1, Mark Craig 0-1, James Kielt 0-1f.

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