Down seconds emerged victorious in a five-goal thriller at Malone Park last weekend.

The win ensures none of the teams below them in Junior 3 can catch them during a late-season run in and the victory also condemned Harlequins to Junior 4 next season.

The home side continued with youngsters Philip Moreland and Stephen Cullum in their ranks and they again proved they are stars of the future. Moreland in particular was outstanding all afternoon and was rightly singled out for praise at the end of the game by his team mates.

Growing in stature and confidence, he attacked when the opportunity arose and also battled back to provide cover in front of Johnny Lennon on the left hand side of the defence.

Harlequins have been at the bottom of the table since the start of the season and having already defeated them on their own patch, Down were confident of completing a league double at Malone Park. While it worked out that way in the end, there were a few nervy moments in the second half.

While the home side relied on young guns Moreland and Cullum, there were a few old hands who were key to the weekend win. Veteran striker, Cecil Telford, rolled back the years and proved he still knows where the goal is and still possesses a powerful strike.

Skipper Willie Price was rock solid at the heart of the home defence, while Gary Brown and Trevor McClurg were impressive in the middle of the park.

Harlequins, who were very late arriving for the game, got off to a slow start and were forced onto the back foot as Down took the game to them. The first half chance fell to Philip Brown, but his shot struck the wrong side of the sideboard.

Telford then produced a trademark cross which flashed across the penalty area. All Philip Brown had to do was deflect it into the net, but he missed and the chance was gone. At the other end, Harlequins created one early effort from a short corner, but the effort was saved.

Down took the lead in the 10th minute from their first short corner of the game. The ball came out to Trevor McClurg whose powerful shot flew past the 'keeper into the bottom of the corner of the net.

Harlequins tried to force their way back into the game and relied heavily on the right wing for all their attacks. Moreland and Lennon coped well and Telford moved across to prevent Alan Smith from roaming forward.

The home side went 2-0 in the 20th minute from another short corner set-piece. With the Harlequins defenders expecting the ball to go to McClurg, it was switched to Telford who couldn't have hit the ball any sweeter.

His effort was so precise that it dissected the goalkeeper and a defender on the line to whistle into the net. It was all one-way traffic at this stage and Telford then went close again, while Philip Brown was denied by a smart save by the 'keeper at his near post.

Down were keen to increase their advantage in the second period and the turning point in the game came in the 47th minute. Telford whipped a cross into the penalty area and with striker Brown standing on his own at the back post, he failed to make any connection.

Two minutes later, Harlequins pulled a goal back. Down's keeper should have let a shot from outside the penalty area go wide, but he kicked it and the rebound was fired back past him, although Johnny Lennon, who was on the goal line should probably have cleared it.

The goal gave the visitors some heart and they played well for a 10-minute spell, forcing Price and Gary Tate to be on top of their game in the defence. The visitors made it 2-2 from a penalty corner which should never have been awarded.

Price stopped a cross in his own penalty area and stepped over the ball to give himself space to clear it. The Harlequins players claimed the ball had hit his feet, when it clearly didn't, and the visiting umpire awarded the set piece from which they made it 2-2.

Harlequins then had two opportunities to take the lead; one from a short corner and one from play, but both were saved by Down's keeper. Five minutes later that man Telford scored his second goal to restore his side's lead and he came close to completing a hat-trick minutes later, but he didn't get enough purchase on the ball and his effort was saved. Harlequins went close again the closings stages with a reverse stick shot from a short corner, but the effort was again saved to preserve the home side's single goal advantage.

The weekend win ensures that its mathematically impossible for any of the teams below Down to catch them. With Harlequins already gone, it's now a fight between Kilkeel thirds and the PSNI seconds to see who joins the Belfast side in Junior 4 next season.