Oak Leafers get the chop as Down march to Ulster final
Down 3-16 Derry 1-17
There will be a replay of the 2013 Ulster Hurling Championship final after Down defeated Derry by five points at Owenbeg yesterday.
A lethargic opening by the home side saw them trail 0-3 to 0-1 after 20 minutes of play.
Down looked hungrier all over the pitch and appeared intent on exacting revenge over an earlier defeat in the season in the Christy Ring Cup.
Talisman Ruairi Convery was forced out of action with a shoulder injury as early as the fifth minute and the omens appeared ominous for Tom McLean's men.
However, Derry suddenly hit their stride in the latter phases of the half and out-scored Down by nine points to five.
Indeed had it not been for a number of injury time wides, the Oak Leafers would have ran in at half time with a better lead than the 0-10 to 0-08 advantage they did enjoy.
Danny Toner, with a quick fire hat-trick of scores, was Down's best forward, while Paddy Henry was Derry's top scorer with six first half points, including five frees.
Everything changed and changed dramatically right at the start of the second half.
It took the Ardsmen just six minutes to score 2-2, with goals coming from Caolan Bailie and man of the match Danny Toner finding the back of the net.
Second-best they may have been in the second half, Down were the masters of Owenbeg after the break and when Gareth Johnson rammed home their third goal in the 47th minute it ended the game as a contest.
The home side refused to yield and a 57th minute Kevin Hinphey offered some hope, but teak-tough defending from Michael Johnston's men denied any further goals with Down running out five-point winners.
Scorers - Derry: P Henry 0-8 (0-7f), K Hinphey 1-1, P Cleary 0-3, A Kelly 0-1, S McGuigan 0-1, A Grant 0-1, J O'Dwyer 0-1, B Douban 0-1
Down: G Johnson 1-6 (0-5f), D Toner 1-6 (0-1f), C Bailie 1-1, D McManus 0-1, J Coyle 0-1
Derry: D McDermott, M Warnock, C Quinn, S McCullagh (c), C McSorley, L Hinphey, R McCloskey, A Rafferty, S McGuigan, A Kelly, A Grant, K Hinphey, P Henry, R Convery, J O'Dwyer. Subs: P Cleary for R Convery (5), E McGuckin for S McCullough (35), B Douban for A Kelly (43), D Foley for S McGuigan (63), T McCloskey for J O'Dwyer (65)
Down: S Keith, S Ennis, C Woods, M Hughes, D McManus, C O'Neill, M McCullough, J McManus, D Hughes, S Dineen, D Toner, F Conway, C Bailie, G Johnson (c), J Coyle
Subs: B Nicholson for R Branagan B/C (10), C Cassidy for J C (47), P Sheehan for C Bailie (57), S Nicholson for D McManus (70)
Ref: Owen Elliott (Antrim)