Brannigan sparks Down rout
Down 4-12 Wicklow 0-11
Published 22/02/2016 | 02:30
Down's four goals, coming at crucial times, were the difference between the teams in a game that Wicklow dominated in the first half.
Mistakes gifted Down two goals and Wicklow couldn't claw their way back at Páirc Esler.
Down were 2-3 to 0-2 up after 12 minutes and looked dangerous. They left space in their forward line and Scott Nicholson burst onto a good pass and finished to the net.
Down went seven ahead coutesy of two more points and a goal, when Wicklow goalkeeper Robert Fitzgerald let the ball drop.
But the Mourne men would only score once more in the half as Wicklow dominated possession, though not scores, and Down were three points ahead at half time, 2-4 to 0-7.
Down got a dream start in the second half, scoring 1-3 without reply, which put the game beyond Wicklow.
Rian Brannigan took advantage of another dropped ball in the goal mouth for his side's third goal.
Both teams finished with men sent off. Down's Aaron O'Prey and Wicklow's Eugene Dunne were shown red cards after a melee while Gavin Weir got a second yellow.
Scorers - Down: D Toner (3f) 1-4; S Nicholson (1f) 1-2; C Bailie, R Brannigan 1-1 each; C O'Prey (65), P Sheehan (1f), J McGrath, C Mageean 0-1 each.
Wicklow: S Kelly, D Staunton (4f) 0-4 each; R Keddy 0-2; J Byrne 0-1.
Down - S Keith 6; M Conlon 7, P Flynn 6, J McManus 7; C O'Prey 7, C Taggart 6, J McGrath 7; S Nicholson 8, C Woods 7; R Brannigan 8, F Conway 7, D Hughes 7; C Mageean 7, D Toner 8, C Bailie 7. Subs: A O'Prey 6 for F Conway (54), J Doran 6 for C O'Prey (58), R Campbell 6 for R Brannigan (60), P Sheehan 7 for D Toner (65), C Egan 6 for C Bailie (71).
Wicklow - R Fitzgerald 6; P Keane 7, B Cuddihy 6, C Ó Dúlacháin 7; E Dunne 6, L Maloney 7, M O'Brien 7; D Masterson 6, R Keddy 8; P Doran 6, S Kelly 8, J Henderson 7; G Weir 6, A Byrne 7, D Staunton 6. Subs: J Byrne 6 for D Masterson (26 inj.), E Byrne 6 for R Keddy (46 inj.).
Ref - J Clarke (Cavan).