DOWN RETURNED TO winning ways with an emphatic victory in this afternoon’s Allianz Hurling League Division 2B clash at O’Donnell Park.
Donegal 0-14 Down 3-22
Donal Hughes, Rian Brannigan and Chris Egan hit the first-half goals as Down cruised against a still understrength Donegal, who are searching for their first points of the campaign.
With Danny Tonner adding six points for the visitors, Down were never in danger.
Photo caption: All hands to the pump at O’Donnell Park in this afternoon’s Allianz League Division 2B clash between Donegal and Down. Photo: Geraldine Diver
Lee Henderson led the fight for Donegal, the MacCumhaills man scoring eleven points, but Down were superior all over.
Toner clipped over a pair of early points and Hughes clipped over and the opening goal arrived in the seventh minute when Hughes batted past Paul Burns from close range.
While Lee Henderson drilled a 70-metre free between the sticks in the third minute, that was about as good as it got for the home side and by the time Danny Cullen entered the fray, in the 23rd minute, the home side were 15 behind.
Brannigan slotted in goal number two in a crowded goalmouth with a third major coming off the hurl of Egan following a neat move.
Donegal ‘keeper Burns denied Toner with an early save while Donegal themselves might have had a goal only for Down netminder Stephen Keith saving at point-blank range from Sean McVeigh.
St Eunan’s forward McVeigh got on the end of a Paddy Hannigan pass and riffled first time, only for Keith to get down to save.
Although Henderson – who scored all of Donegal’s six first-half points – tacked on a few frees, Down had long since made the game safe.
Midfielder Scott Nicholson slotted over a quickfire double and a free from Toner helped the Mourne men lead 3-10 to 0-6 at the break.
After defeating Armagh and Wicklow in their opening two games, Down were left reeling last Sunday when they were beaten 0-20 to 0-16 in Newry by Mayo and Micheál Mac Seáin’s men came to Letterkenny with a spring firmly insert into their soles.
Donegal suffered a demoralising 32-point loss against Meath seven days ago, although Ardal McDermott’s starting roster remains without the likes of Cullen, Kevin Campbell, Jamesie Donnelly and Enda McDermott.
Cullen came on during the first half, but a cameo lasted only 12 minutes and he was withdrawn again at the interval.
Henderson bettered his earlier attempt when he nailed a free from 90 metres, but Down stayed in command.
Nicholson, Aaron O’Prey, Campbell, Conor O’Prey and Brook Byres widened the margin to 18 points.
Paddy Hannigan – after seeing a goal chance blocked by Keith – Paul Sheridan, Henderson and Sean McVeigh kept Donegal’s tally rising, but Down were comprehensive victors.
Donegal: Paul Burns; Pauric Doherty, Justin McGhee, Shane Gallen; Gavin Browne, Christopher McDermott, Niall Cleary; Paul Sheridan (0-1), Jack O’Loughlin; Lee Henderson (0-11, 10f), Bernard Lafferty, Sean McVeigh (0-1); Ciaran Matthewson, Paddy Hannigan (0-1), Paul Nelson. Subs: Danny Cullen for Cleary (23), Kevin Campbell for Cullen (half-time), Dara Grant for Browne (half-time), Sam Doherty for Nelson (55).
Down: Stephen Keith; Conor O’Prey (0-1), Conor O’Neill, James McGrath; Ruairí Campbell (0-2), Caolan Taggart, Sean Ennis; Scott Nicholson (0-4, 2f), Conor Woods (0-2); Rian Brannigan (1-1), Fintan Conway, Aaron O’Prey (0-1); Chris Egan (1-0), Donal Hughes (1-3), Danny Toner (0-6, 3f). Subs: Paul Sheehan for Taggart (half-time), Brook Byers (0-2) for Toner (44), Oisin McManus for Egan (58).
Referee: Aidan Ferguson (Fermanagh).Tags: