Derry 3-17 Down 1-9: Derry turned on the style at Corrigan Park in Belfast last night to sweep to their first Ulster U21HC title since 2008.
They had to recover from a difficult start, but once they got into their stride, Down had no answer to their attacking class.
Down got off to a flying start with 1-2 in the opening five minutes, Oisin McManus smashing home a goal from Daithi Sands’ assist.
Derry wasted no time in getting the recovery going, and patiently picked off points through Daragh Cartin, Odhran McKeever and Conor McAllister to go level by the 12th minute.
With John Mullan, until forced off injured, and Cormac Doherty getting them plenty of possession around the middle, they had the Down defence under intense pressure.
However, the Ardsmen broke clear to go back in front with a cheeky piece of stick-work from Ruairi Campbell.
But the Oak Leafs got in for goal in the 26th minute, Brian Cassidy netting from close range.
Mark Fisher’s ’65 narrowed the gap, but Cassidy tagged on a point to send Derry in with a 1-9 to 1-5 interval lead.
Down pushed forward, but found full back Paddy Turner in immense form, while Derry midfielder Conor McAllister put in a massive second half shift.
Cassidy and Ciaran Steele fired over points, while the accurate Cartin continued to find the target.
Down did have scores from Coulter and Mark Fisher, from a 65, but they were never able to match the intensity and hunger of their opponents.
And it was all over by the 55th minute, when goalscorer Cassidy turned provider with two assists as Reilly found the net twice in the space of a minute.
Scorers for Derry:
C Riley 2-0, B Cassidy 1-2, D Cartin 0-7 (4f, 1 ’65), O McKeever, C O’Doherty, C McAllister 0-2 each, S McGuigan, C Steele 0-1 each.
Scorers for Down:
O McManus 1-0, C Coulter 0-3 (3f), M Fisher 0-2 (2 ’65), B Trainor, D Sands, R Campbell, P McCrickard 0-1 each.
F McEldowney; S Higgins, P Turner, P McNeill; R McCartney, C Steele, S McGuigan; C McAllister, J Mullan; E McGill, S Cassidy, O McKeever; D Cartin, C O’Doherty, B Cassidy.
C Riley for Mullan, N Smyth for O’Doherty, P Burke for McKeever.
H Flynn; B Myers, D Mallon, P McManus; M Fisher, E Coulter, R Courtney; L Savage, J Doran; B Trainor, D Sands, R Campbell; O McManus, P McCrickard, C Coulter.
M Pattterson for P McManus, N Breen for C Coulter, O Duggan for O McManus.
C Cunning (Antrim).
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