Eamon McGill in action against Down's Donal Hughes (Pic: Sam Barnes / Sportsfile)
NHL DIVISION 2B PROMOTION FINAL
Goals from Pearse Óg McCrickard and Eoghan Sands ended Derry's promotion hopes in Sunday's league final.
An eleventh minute goal from Eoghan Sands put Down ahead in perfect conditions at the Athletic Grounds.
Derry had the breeze in the first half and played a short game in defence, before launching direct ball into a dominant Down defence.
It took ten minutes for Cormac O'Doherty to register the first score of the game, but Sands' rasping goal had Derry rocking.
Eamon McGill and John Mullan, who came on for the injured Chrissy Henry, had the early joy at midfield, but Phelim Savage began to take control.The Sands brothers were sharp in attack, with Down's defence repelling Derry.
The Oakleaf attack struggled to get any shots at the posts.Thanks for O'Doherty's free-taking, Derry were in the game at the break.
Clashes between the teams have been decided by the a goal in recent times and Derry needed a huge second half performance.
Derry battled their way back, but McCrickard's strike left Down in control.
Frees from O'Doherty had Derry back to within a goal, but the immense Down defensive display ensured there would be one winner.
They lost Mark Fisher to a red card, with Derry also finishing with 14 men. Richie Mullan picked up an injury and they had used all their substitutes.
Derry face Sligo in the first round of the Christy Ring Cup next weekend.
DOWN: Stephen Keith; Tom Murray, Caolan Taggart, Michael Hughes; Barry Trainor, Conor Woods (0-1f), Liam Savage; Matt Conlon, Phelim Savage (0-2); Ronan Costello, Pearse Óg McCrickard (1-2), Donal Hughes; Oisín MacManus (0-5f), Eoghan Sands (1-2), Daithí Sands (0-3)
SUBS: Ryan McCusker for R Costello (HT), Tim Prenter (0-1) for O MacManus, Marc Fisher for D Hughes (60), Darragh Mallon for T Murray (70)
DERRY: Seán Kelly,; Paddy Kelly, Seán Cassidy, Darragh Cartin; Conor Kelly, Brian Óg McGilligan, Mark Craig; Chrissy Henry, Eamon McGill (0-2); Mark McGuigan, Cormac O'Doherty (0-11, 10f), Fintan Bradley,; Richie Mullan, Sé McGuigan, Eoghan Cassidy
SUBS: John Mullan (0-2) for C Henry (INJ 12), Odhran McKeever (0-1) for E Cassidy (HT), Paul Cleary (0-1) for C Kelly (45), Thomas Brady for M McGuigan (48), Jerome McGuigan for F Bradley (51)
REF: James Clarke (Cavan)
Grab Monday's Derry News and Tuesday's County Derry Post for all the coverage.
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