Down off to flying start

Down gained revenge for their Ulster SHC semi-final defeat at the hands of Antrim last month by beating the Saffrons in their Christy Ring Cup opener this afternoon.

Down gained revenge for their Ulster SHC semi-final defeat at the hands of Antrim last month by beating the Saffrons in their Christy Ring Cup opener this afternoon.

The Mourne men cut loose for a 1-23 to 1-07 victory at Ballycran to get their Group 2A campaign off to an excellent start.

Wing forward Graham Clarke ripped home Down's goal in the third-minute with an overhead strike. The hosts led by 1-11 to 0-01 at the break - Antrim's sole score was a Brian McFall score.

Antrim, who were without banned duo Gerard Cunningham and Michael Herron, improved after the break with substitute Ciaran Kelly bagging their goal minutes from the end.

Centre forward Paul Braniff led the scoring for Down with eight points. Down are not in action next weekend, Antrim, meanwhile, are at home to Roscommon.

In Group 2B, Carlow picked up their first win with a comprehensive 3-15 to 0-05 defeat of Mayo at Dr. Cullen Park.

A trio of Naomh Brid clubmen netted for the Barrowsiders - midfielder Alan Brennan and corner forward Brendan Lawler raised green flags in the first half. Mayo were left trailing by 0-02 to 2-07 at the break.

The visitors finished the game down to 13 men with full-forward Keith Higgins, who flew home from the county footballers' training camp in the Algarve to play, producing heroics in defence in the closing stages.

A good finish from corner back Dessie Shaw gave Carlow a third goal and wrapped up the points.

Also in Group 2B, Kildare notched a 3-14 to 2-12 win over Wicklow in Newbridge.

Ben Dorney's Lilywhites, who shocked Kerry last weekend, led 1-09 to 2-04 against Wicklow at the interval. Wicklow's goals came from corner forwards Andy O'Brien and John Keogh.

But those strikes were cancelled out as all of the Kildare full-forward line - David Harney, Aidan McAndrew and Brendan Byrne - grabbed goals of their own.

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