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Down ease past Waterford in Tailteann Cup opener Down 2-14 Waterford 1-6

Sunday 14th May 2023

Down 2-14 Waterford 1-6

Steve Malone, Belfast Telegraph

Down’s Danny Magill praised his side’s second half performance as they put a determined Waterford to the sword in Newry’s Pairc Esler last night.

The result puts the Mourne men in a good position to advance in the Tailteann Cup as three of the four teams in the group go through. Down make the trip to Tipperary next weekend, while Waterford face Meath.

“It wasn’t up to standard in the first half I didn’t think, but in the second half we came out and competed better and did what we needed, to take us over the line,” said Magill.

“We were disappointed to concede the first goal and it is never easy when we do that, but we showed character again but we knew with Pat Havern and Eamon Brown inside we knew to get them the ball as quickly as possible and they would punish them.”

The game was a slow burner under the sun and it was Waterford who stunned the Pairc Esler crowd when Conor Murray soloed his way unchallenged before coolly slipping his shot inside the near post for a great goal.

That gave Waterford a 1-02 to 0-02 lead with 18 minutes gone as Down’s Pat Havern and Jason Curry had traded points up to then.

However, five minutes later Eamon Brown finished off a clever five-man fast hands move, to grab a goal and that woke Down from their somewhat slumber.

Havern, Andrew Gilmore and Anthony Morgan tagged on points as Down marched into a four-point half-time lead (1-06 to 1-02).

It was 28 minutes between Waterford’s goal and their next score which came from Darragh Corcoran, but Down’s Ordhran Murdock made a surging run through the Ford’s defence before keeping his shot low and past keeper Aaron Beresford.

There was still 20 minutes to play and Waterford created chances, which included a Danny Magill goal-line clearance, but Down were in control.

They bossed the middle, dictated the pace and with Gilmore, substitute Donnach McAleenan and the lively Eugene Branagan and his Kilcoo club-mate Shealan Johnston all finding the target as they put Waterford to the sword.

“I was with this management team at Under-20 and I think you only enjoy it when you are winning, it was disappointing two weeks ago against Armagh and it is never nice losing but at least the Tailteann Cup gives us games to bounce back and win games and you can’t beat the winning feeling,” Magill said.

Down make the trip to Thurles on Saturday to face the Tipperary side they beat in the National League, while Waterford can take confidence from their display in Newry as they take on Meath in their second Group Two game.

DOWN:Charlie Smyth, Finn McElroy, Pierce Laverty, Conor Fitzpatrick, Anthony Morgan (0-01), Shane Annett, Danny Magill, Ross Carr, Patrick Branagan, Andrew Gilmore (0-4, 0-3 frees), Shealan Johnston (0-01), Odhran Murdock (1-00) Eugene Branagan (0-01) Pat Havern (0-05, 0-1 mark, 0-3 frees) Eamon Brown (1-00).

Subs:Daniel Guinness for McElroy (ht’) Ceilum Doherty for A Morgan (ht’), Donnach McAleenan (0-02) for C Fitzpatrick (44’), Paddy McCarthy for Havern (60’), Conor Poland for Shane Annett (63’)

WATERFORD:Aaron Beresford, Liam Fennell, Darragh O’Cathasaigh, Conor O’Cuirrin, Dermot Ryan (0-06), Brian Looby, Jordan O’Sullivan, Michael Curry, Brian Lynch, Conor Murray (1-00), Darragh Corcoran (0-02), Jason Curry (0-02, frees), Eoghan McGrath-Butler, Sean Whelan Barrett, Michael Kiely.

Subs:Jason Gleeson (0-01), for Whelan Barrett (51’), Tom O’Connell Kiely (51’), Mark Cummins for O’Sullivan (63’), Josh Veale for O Cuirrin (66’), Jack Keane for Curry (68’).

Referee:Barry Cassidy (Derry).