Ballynahinch have their eyes on Linden Cup glory this season after losing out in the semi-finals last year.

In their first game of the new campaign they overcame derby rivals Down at Ferris Park, after playing most of the game with just nine men.

It was far from a vintage performance by Darren Cairns' side, but they will get better and stronger as the weeks progress and will ruffle quite a few feathers in Senior One.

Last week they started their bid for Linden Cup glory in glorious sunshine and while their overall performance didn't set the world on fire, Ballynahinch never had to move into top gear and played well within themselves.

Down went into the game missing a number of key players, but they enjoyed the run out and while they didn't create many chances, they will take heart from the performance of their regular players.

Former Down striker, Philip Murray, had a quiet debut for Ballynahinch and was never in the thick of the action. He struggled to get into the game after coming on as a first half substitute, but will no doubt improve as the season progresses.

The absence of Colin McKibbin, honeymooning in Australia, forced Ballynahinch to draft in Graham Thompson at left back, but with the visitors forced to play defender, Robert Carberry on the right wing, he had little to do throughout the afternoon.

Down also drafted in the experienced Willie Price and his presence inspired those around him, with Aaron Minnis and Gavin Ringland playing well at the back.

Ballynahinch started with most of the tried and trusted eleven which served them so well last year and apart from attempts by Chris Taylor and Ashley Gibson, goalkeeper, Mark Brown, had little to do.

At the other end, Mark and Gary Graham were causing all sorts of problems on the Down right and when the brothers combined in the eighth minute, the ball was worked across to Grant Hayes who scored with a reverse stick shot.

Ten minutes later, the normally reliable Ringland crashed his hit out straight at Ballynahinch skipper, Darren Cairns. He raced into the danger area and squared for Hayes who scored his second of the afternoon, again with a reverse stick shot which crept in at the far post.

Lawrence Patterson then missed a "sitter" when it looked easier to score and Mark Graham was denied by Down's 'keeper, who also kept a shot out from Hayes who was looking for his hat-tick.

In between all this, Andy McIlwaine was yellow-carded for an off-the-ball challenge on Down skipper, Jeremy McCready. When allowed back onto the pitch he was warned by the umpire about his future confident, but verbal abuse on this way to take up his centre-forward's position result in him being given a straight red.

Although Down had the numerical advantage, they failed to make the most of it. They failed to play as a team, but with Stephen Ferguson, Alasdair Duff and Paul Neill all due to return, they will improve.

But back to Ballynahinch who made it 3-0 through midfield maestro, Jeremy Rea. Down's keeper blocked Hayes' short corner strike, but the ball spun up into the air and fell at Rea's feet who prodded it home.

The Down netminder then produced a smart save at his near post to deny Mark Graham, before the latter made it 4-0 with a rasping shot which flew into the net courtesy of a tremendous reverse stick shot.

A comfortable win in the end for Ballynahinch. Two points and four goals means they go into this weekend's Linden Cup tie against East Antrim brimming with confidence.

Cairns is determined to get his hands on the trophy this season and while he won't like hearing it, his side are clear favourites to taste glory in the Linden Cup this season.

Meanwhile, Down should be at full strength when they face Parkview this weekend at Jordanstown and again the following week when they face East Antrim at home.