Sands' goals prove key as Down edge out Exiles
Down 2-19 London 0-19
Hot favourites London came up short against a tenacious, hard-working Down team at a sun-kissed Páirc na héireann in Birmingham
The key scores were two first-half goals from Eoghan Sands, which saw the Exiles go into the interval trailing 2-10 to 0-14, despite having played with wind advantage.
The first goal came on 18 minutes with the sides level at 0-8 each and the second on the stroke of half-time, after London had taken a one-point lead.
London had lost Neil Rogers to a straight red after 30 minutes, so while there was little between the teams in general play, the goal meant London faced a challenge.
The modest lead looked to have gone in the opening seconds of the second period, but Eddie Kenny's goal was disallowed.
London's hopes were raised when Eoghan Sands saw straight red.
With both teams being reduced to 14, there were mistakes and some bad wides. Down were the more composed team and Scott Nicholson, Connor O'Prey and Danny Toner eased the Mournemen home to a six-point win.
John McManus starred in the Down defence, while Nicholson, O'Prey and Toner were the pick of the forwards, while London will rue some indiscipline on the day.
Oisin Gately and Brian Regan were staunch in defence, while Stephen Braden shot three superb long-range points. Eddie Kenny and Daryl Roberts were handfuls for the Down defence throughout.
SCORERS - Down: E Sands 2-1, S Nicholson 0-5 (2fs) , C O'Prey 0-6 (3fs), D Toner 0-4, C Mageean; C Egan; D Hughes 0-1 each. London: K O'Loughlin 0-5 (3fs), E Kenny, D Roberts 0-4 each, S Bardon 0-3, PJ Rowe, M Dwyer, E Kelly 0-1 each.
DOWN - S Keith 8; J McManus 9, M Hughes 7, S Ennis 8; C O'Prey 7, C Woods 7, M Ennis 8; S Nicholson 8, D Hughes 7; C Mageean 7, D McManus 8, M Magee 7; C Taggart 8, E Sands 8, D Toner 7.
LONDON - E Kelly 7; M Conroy 6, O Gately 8, P Horkan 7; S Barton 7, B Regan 8, A Griffiths 7; T Healy 7, E Cooney 7; M Dwyer 7, P J Rowe 7, N Rogers 5; K O'Loughlin 8, E Kenny 8, S O'Donnell 6.
Ref - J Keane (Galway)