Down seconds romped to an emphatic 5-1 win over Raphoe fourths in atrocious weather conditions at Malone Park last Saturday.

Heavy rain throughout the game made it difficult for both sides, but it was Down who adapted best and clocked up another two points, taking their season's tally to 23.

Stephen Ferguson scored four goals and Mark Elliott also chipped in with one, but he should have finished with two goals. He missed a penalty stroke midway through the second half after he was upended by the 'keeper as he was about to score.

Down welcomed back a bronzed Colin Gibson after his month-long trip Down Under and he assumed the captain's arm band in the absence of Willie Price.

Down opened the scoring in the 10th minute when Stephen Ferguson picked up a pass from his brother Chris and powered his way into the penalty area before unleashing a powerful shot which flew into the net.

Moments earlier, James Cunningham got on the end of a cross from Chris Lennon but couldn't steer the ball in at the back post. Elliott then went close as Down seized the initiative in the middle of the park.

The home side went 2-0 ahead 15 minutes before the break when Ferguson drew a defender before slipping the ball to Elliott who made no mistake, flicking the ball into the net.

Raphoe created just once chance in the first half when a forward's shot was deflected onto the bar by Down's 'keeper and when the ball came back into play, it was whacked clear by Lennon.

Down were well aware Raphoe could force their way back into the game in the second period, but the pitch, which was flooded in parts, made it difficult for the locals to execute their normal passing game.

Elliott looked as though he was about to make it 3-0 when he found himself clear on goal, but he was fouled by the advancing 'keeper and the umpire had no hesitation pointing to the spot.

Unfortunately for the Down striker, his effort was saved by the Raphoe 'keeper to give his side a lifeline, but any hope the Donegal men had of staging a late rally was dispelled by Ferguson who scored his second of the game when he made it 3-0.

Picking the ball up on the left wing, he powered his way into the penalty area and after getting a clear sight of goal, drilled the ball into the net.

At the other end, Down's 'keeper made two saves before the home side's poor marking in the second period was punished when Raphoe made it 3-1.

However, spurred on by Gibson and Raymond McClurg in the middle of the park, Ferguson stepped in to steal the show with two more goals to take his personal tally to four.

His hat-trick goal was a superb individual effort which saw him drag the ball past the advancing 'keeper to tap it into an empty net, while his fourth and Down's fifth came courtesy of a cross from Elliott.