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McCusker brace sinks Armagh

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Johnny McCusker, Down

Johnny McCusker, Down

Johnny McCusker, Down

Down moved a step closer towards securing their place in next year's Christy Ring Cup with this five-goal demolition of Armagh in Newry.

The Mourne men did most of the damage in the first half, scoring four goals before the interval, with full-forward Johnny McCusker finding the net twice inside the first 16 minutes.

Down will now face the winners of Saturday's Nicky Rackard Cup final between Fingal and Tyrone to determine who plays in the Christy Ring Cup in 2015.

Having won the competition in Croke Park a year ago, Down manager Gerard Monan admitted that this season's dogfight has been a huge disappointment.

"After the highs of last year the relegation thing was hard to get motivated for," he said.

"It has been a very disappointing season but the players are committed. They got a lot of criticism after recent games, and rightly so, but they showed a lot of pride in their display today."

Down started with just seven of the side which snatched victory against Kerry in last year's final, but they were still a cut above Armagh, who now drop down to the Nicky Rackard Cup for 2015.

McCusker's brace, plus goals from James Coyle and Michael Turley, gave Down a 4-11 to 0-11 cushion at half-time.

Armagh responded with goals in the 45th and 50th minutes from former Down player Eoin McGuinness and John Corvan, but Down scored an unanswered 1-8 in the final 15 minutes of a poor match, substitute Malachy Magee getting the fifth goal two minutes from the end.

Scorers – Down: J Coyle 1-5 (0-4fs), J McCusker 2-1, M Turley 1-2, M Magee 1-1, S Nicholson (2fs), M Ennis 0-4 each, D Hughes 0-3, C O'Prey 0-2, C Woods 0-1 (f), B Nicholson 0-1; Armagh: D Coulter 0-7 (5fs, 1 '65'), J Corvan 1-2, E McGuinness 1-0, K McKernan 0-2, O Curry, C Carvill, R Gaffney, A McGuinness 0-1 each.

DOWN – S Keith; M Conlon, P Flynn, M Hughes; P Hughes, C Woods, C O'Prey; S Ennis, S Nicholson; D Hughes, B Nicholson, M Ennis; M Turley, J McCusker, J Coyle. Subs: P Sheehan for Coyle (42), C Hughes for Conlon (46), M Magee for McCusker (56).

ARMAGH – S Doherty; C Devlin, C Clifford, M Garvey; S Renaghan, P Gaffney, C McAnallen; F Bradley, J Corvan; O Curry, R Gaffney, K McKernan; C Carvill, D Coulter, A McGuinness. Subs: D Mone for Garvey (HT), C McKee for Renaghan (39), E McGuinness for A McGuinness (41), C Hannaway for Curry (45), N Green for McAnallen (48).

REF – G McGrath (Dublin)


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