Dr McKenna Cup: Down and Armagh win Section A matches

Down's Darren O'Hagan in action against Derry's Patrick Kearney at Pairc Esler
Down's Darren O'Hagan in action against Derry's Patrick Kearney at Pairc Esler

Newcomer Alan Davidson hit nine points as Down battled to a hard-fought 0-15 to 0-14 Dr McKenna Cup Section A win over Derry at Pairc Esler on Sunday.

The Mourne County, without an inter-county victory since April 2015, led 0-6 to 0-1 after just 12 minutes.

They only trailed once briefly in the second half and the win sets up a winner-takes-all clash with Armagh on Wednesday night for a semi-final place.

Ethan Rafferty and Anto Duffy goals helped Armagh beat Queen's 2-19 to 0-9.

Having beaten Queen's in their opening fixture, Down got off to a flying start as full-forward Barry O'Hagan scored points from play off both feet in the opening minute.

The impressive Davidson tagged on a free before Benny Heron's free put Derry on the scoresheet in the sixth minute.

O'Hagan and Davidson continued to lead the way for Down who romped into a five-point lead before Derry fought back.

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Eamon Burns pleased with Down's display in Dr McKenna Cup win over Derry

Oak Leafers reduce deficit

Ryan Bell, Niall Loughlin, a Heron free and another monster point from Bell helped the Oak Leafers hit four points in a row in a seven-minute spell to reduce the gap to 0-6 to 0-5 after 19 minutes.

Derry could not get level as Down kept their noses in front until half time, leading 0-9 to 0-8 at the interval.

Davidson hit 0-6 in the opening half, five from frees, while Emmett McGuckin's point from the wing reduced Derry's deficit to a single point at the break.

Derry levelled for the first time through sub Enda Lynn 20 seconds after the restart and led briefly through a Carlus McWilliams point after 40 minutes.

Once Joe Murphy brought Down level at 0-10 apiece, the home side never looked back.

Man-of-the-match Davidson, Johnny Flynn and sub Caolan Mooney kicked points for Eamon Burns' side.

Derry battled hard with subs Mark Lynch and James Kielt tagging on scores.

Although the sides were level three times in the second half, Down kept their noses in front for a confidence-boosting win.

Shea Heffron of Queen's challenges Armagh's Aidan Forker at the Athletic Grounds
Shea Heffron of Queen's challenges Armagh's Aidan Forker at the Athletic Grounds

Armagh bounce back from early arrears

Queen's took an early 0-2 to 0-1 lead over Armagh thanks to two Marty Clarke points but the Orchard county recovered to lead 0-8 to 0-4 at the interval.

After the break, Rafferty collected a high ball and finished into the net to give his side a 1-8 to 0-5 advantage and then Jamie Clarke went on to score a point on his introduction after missing last year's entire inter-county season.

Armagh remained in control and Duffy's late goal ensured a comfortable 16-point winning margin for the hosts.

Goalscorers Rafferty and Duffy both scored 1-2 apiece, with Oisin Mac Iomhair (0-4), Conor White (0-1), Stephen Sheridan (0-1) Rory Grugan (0-2), man-of-the-match Aidan Forker (0-2), Ben Crealey (0-1), Jemar Hall (0-2) and Niall Grimley (0-1) the other Armagh scorers.

Martin Clarke was top scorer for Quen's with four points, with Aaron Morgan, Barry McCann and Aaron McClements also getting their names on the scoresheet.

Down: M Cunningham; R McAleenan, G McGovern, D O'Hagan; D McKibbon, C McGovern, B McArdle; P Turley, J Flynn (0-1); S Millar, C Maginn, J Murphy (0-1); A Davidson (0-9, 7f), B O'Hagan (0-3), P Havern

Subs: A Carr for Turley (44), C Mooney for McKibbon (47), D Savage for Haveron (57), R Mallon for Millar (61), G Collins for D O'Hagan (65)

Derry: T Mallon; R Murphy, O Duffin, C McGrogan; N Forrester, C Nevin, P Hagan; P Kearney, A McLaughlin; G O'Neill, R Bell (0-3), C McWilliams (0-1); N Loughlin (0-1), E McGuckin (0-1), B Heron (0-4, 4f)

Subs: J Kielt (0-1, f) for Kearney (HT), E Lynn (0-1) for O'Neill (HT), M Warnock for Hagan (47), C Mullan for Duffin (47), M Lynch (0-2, 1f) for McLaughlin (52), C McAtamney for McGuckin (62)

Referee: Sean Laverty (Antrim)

2017 Dr McKenna Cup - Results and fixtures

Round 2: Sunday, 15 January

Section A

Down 0-15 0-14 Derry

Armagh 2-19 0-09 QUB

Section B

Antrim 0-09 2-20 Monaghan

Fermanagh 2-13 0-13 St Mary's

Section C

Donegal 1-06 2-14 Cavan

Tyrone 2-17 1-07 UUJ

Round 3: Wednesday, 18 January

Section A

Derry v QUB (Owenbeg)

Armagh v Down (Athletic Grounds)

Section B

Fermanagh v Antrim (Brewster Park)

Monaghan v St Mary's (Inniskeen)

Section C

Cavan v Ulster University (Kingspan Breffni Park)

Tyrone v Donegal (Healy Park)

Semi-finals: Sunday, 22 January

Section C Winner V Best Runner Up

Section B Winner V Section A Winner

Final: Saturday, 28 January

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