DOWN manager Gerard Monan believes his side can flash out a positive message in advance of the Ulster Championship by winning the Christy Ring Cup.
Down certainly showed a clinical edge in dismantling Derry's challenge with two early second-half goals from Paul Braniff and substitute Michael Turley proving central to their success in this semi-final at Newry.
Derry had offered vibrant resistance in the first half, with Paddy Henry sustaining their challenge, and when the sides were deadlocked at 0-5 each at the break, the issue was very much in the balance.
But when Down maximised their goal opportunities after the break, Derry's challenge petered out despite some defensive heroics.
A third goal from Johnny McCusker in injury-time cemented Down's victory and has certainly given Monan confidence going forward.
"We still have areas to work on but it is encouraging to be progressing in the Christy Ring Cup," said the Down boss.
His Derry counterpart Ger Rogan, who had previously expressed his discontent at having to travel to Kerry at short notice last weekend, conceded that his side had offered their hosts too much latitude in the second half.
Scorers – Down: P Braniff 1-3, M Turley 1-1, J McCusker 1-0, G Johnston, D Toner, S Nicholson 0-1 each. Derry: P Henry 0-4, O McCloskey, A Kelly, K Hinphey, T McCloskey, B Rodgers 0-1 each.
Down – S Keith; M Conlan, P Flynn, P Hughes; C Coulter, B Toner, D Hughes; M Ennis, C Woods; S Nicholson, P Braniff, K McGarry; D Toner, G Johnston, J Coyle. Subs: C Flynn for Coulter (40), M Turley for McGarry (46), F Conway for Nicholson (65), E Clarke for Toner (69), J McCusker for Coyle (70).
Derry – D McDermott; M Warnock, R McCloskey, J McCloskey; P Kelly, L Hinphey, C McSorley; M O'Hagan, O McCloskey; A Grant, A Kelly, K Hinphey; P Henry, B Rogers, S Farren. Subs: B Quigley for Farren (43), T McCloskey for O'Hagan (50), P Cleary for Henry (59), C Convery for Grant (69).
Ref – D Hughes (Carlow).