Hughes inspires Down to Glory
Down finally gave their long-suffering supporters something to shout about when they stormed to victory over Derry in the Dr McKenna Cup final at Casement Park.
A classy attacking display from Danny Hughes inspired the Mourne men, who had failed to win a single game in this competition, or in the National Football League either last season.
Dr McKenna Cup Final: Down 1-12 Derry 1-6
Down’s fast-moving attack had a hesitant Derry attack under pressure right from the start, with Hughes setting the game alight with a series of penetrating runs and some superb scores.
Derry were forced to shoot from long range, and as a result registered a string of wides, 11 in all in the opening period, their only score of the half a Paddy Bradley free on 25 minutes.
By that time Hughes had slotted over three from play, with John Clarke and Kevin McKernan also on target.
Derry boss Paddy Crozier introduced experienced attackers Enda Muldoon and Paul Murphy before the break, and facing a 0-6 to 0-1 deficit, they had plenty to do.
Eoghain Bradley was also introduced to the Oak Leaf offensive unit shortly after the restart, and Derry did begin to look threatening, pulling back scores through Ryan Keely and Muldoon.
Down, however, clung on stubbornly to their five points cushion, with Clarke and midfielder Jackie Lynch on target.
And they soon stretched the advantage to six, with Clarke clipping over his third on the end of a neat move.
But Paddy Bradley ignited Derry’s challenge when he took a Raymond Wilkinson pass to slot home a 49th minute goal.
Down responded by creating another goal chance at the other end, but once again, Deighan was equal to the task, spreading himself to keep out Ronan Sexton’s effort.
Hughes, with his fourth point of the contest, left five between the teams with a quarter of an hour to play, and the industry of Dan Gordon at midfield was largely responsible for keeping their momentum at an impressive level.
And goalkeeper Deighan was finally beaten when substitute Conor Gribben rose to punch home Downey’s towering delivery seven minutes from the end
Down: B McVeigh, C McGovern, G McArdle, M Cole, D O’Hanlon, L Doyle (0-1, free), K McGuigan, D Gordon, J Lynch (0-1), J Fegan (0-1, free), K McKernan (0-1), D Hughes (0-4), J Clarke (0-3), C Magee, R Sexton (0-1).
Subs: P Downey for Clarke, C Murney for McGovern, C Gribben (1-0) for McKernan, R Murtagh for Magee
Derry: J Deighan, K McGuckin, L Hinphey, F McEldowney, M McBride, J Keenan, R Keely (0-1), J Conway, A McElhone, E Lynn, C O’Kane, R Wilkinson, C Devlin, P Bradley (1-2, 1 free), S McGoldrick.
Subs: E Muldoon (0-1, free) for Devlin, P Murphy for O’Kane, E Bradley (0-2) for Lynn, K McCloy for McElhone, C Mullan for Wilkinson
Referee: M Hughes (Tyrone)
Wides: Down 6, Derry 15
Yellow cards: Down: R Sexton
Derry: E Bradley, K McCloy, L Hinphey
Red cards: None