Grant aid boosts Derry cause
Derry 2-17 Down 1-13
Derry put the NHL Division Three final defeat by Wicklow behind them as they overpowered a disappointing Down side in Ballycran on Saturday.
First-half goals from Oisin Doherty and Alan Grant paved the way.
Derry were the more committed side, dominating midfield through Kevin Hinphey and Oisin McCloskey. And with Cathal McKeever marshalling a solid Oak Leaf defence, Down relied on the accurate free-taking of James Coyle to keep them in the game.
Down opened strongly with a goal from Gareth Johnson and led by 1-7 to 1-5 midway through the first half. However, Derry were inspired by Grant's goal, adding three unanswered points to lead by 2-8 to 1-8 at half-time.
Derry dominated the second half, but their 'keeper Darryl McDermott made two brilliant saves from Johnson and Conor Mageean.
Down had Conor O'Prey sent off for a second yellow midway through the half, but Derry were reduced to 13 men late on when Martin Craig got a second yellow and Hinphey was shown a straight red.
Man of the Match: Cathal McKeever (Derry)
Scorers -- Derry: A Grant 1-3, R Convery 0-6 (6f), O Doherty 1-0, P Henry 0-3, O McCloskey 0-2, M Kirkpatrick, B Quigley, P McCloskey 0-1 each. Down: J Coyle 0-11 (6f), G Johnson 1-0, C O'Prey, S Nicholson 0-1 each.
Derry -- D McDermott 8; A Rafferty 7, C McKeever 9, L Hawkins 8; D McCloskey 7, M Craig 8, S Cassidy 7; K Hinphey 8, O McCloskey 8 ; A Grant 8, R Convery 7,P Henry 8; O Doherty 8, P McCloskey 7, M Kirkpatrick 7. Sub: B Quigley 7 for O Doherty (56)
Down -- G Clarke 7; M Hughes 7, C Coulter 7, S Ennis 8; C O'Prey 8,J Merron 7 M Ennis 8; A Savage 7, K McGarry 7; B Ennis 8, S Clarke 7, D Hughes 7; J Coyle 9, G Johnson 7, S Nicholson 7. Sub: C Mageean 7 for S Nicholson (55).
Ref -- P Murphy (Carlow).