Down lifted the Senior Two Cup at Hillsborough last Wednesday night after they defeated derby rivals Saintfield 3-1 in a thrilling final.

But the winners did not have things their own way as Saintfield played with a steely determination and threatened to force the tie into extra time in the closing stages.

Down's win, thanks to a double strike from Sinclair White and a typically opportunist goal from Chris Taylor, was their first in a major cup competition since 1985 and given the impressive squad the Malone Park side now boasts, it could be the first of many.

Down had already defeated Saintfield twice in the league ahead of last week's cup final, but the Demesne outfit, who drafted the experienced Richard Owens, into the heart of their defence played well, with Matt Owen and Alan Buchanan providing the drive in the middle of the park alongside the hardworking Lawrence Murphy.

Down, who were forced to start with Mark Johnston in goal, relied on their 'keeper to make a number of smart saves and he had to be alert early on to prevent Gavin Kirkpatrick from giving Saintfield the lead.

Kirkpatrick found himself with just the 'keeper to beat after Johnston and Murphy had combined to set up a glorious chance, his shot was smothered.

Three minutes later, Down took the lead at the other end from a penalty corner. The ball was pushed out to Sinclair White who rifled an unstoppable shot past Graeme Finlay.

Any notion the Down supporters had that the rest of the game would be a stroll were abruptly ended two minutes later when Kirkpatrick did get the better of Johnston after indecision in the Down penalty area left the Saintfield striker unmarked.

Davy Johnston then blasted a short corner strike high and wide as Saintfield proved they would be no pushovers.

Owens, who had a great game at the heart of his side's defence, cleared two penalty corner strikes from White Ñ which had "goal" written all over them Ñ off the line.

Seconds later Owens turned from hero to villain. Upset with an umpire's decision to award Down a free, he hit the ball away, prompting the umpire to award a penalty corner.

Up stepped White to drill another ferocious shot towards Finlay's goal and while Owens again got his stick to the ball, Taylor nipped in to flick it past the Saintfield defender for his side's second goal.

Johnston, who was closely marked by Aaron Minnis, tried to create chances for his side, but Down held the upper hand in the middle of the park where Saintfield knew they had to get a grip on the game.

Down were keen to maintain their grip on the final in the second half and while they made it 3-1 within 10 minutes of the restart, they took their foot off the gas and Saintfield forced their way back into the game.

Their third goal came from another White blockbuster from a penalty corner and Ringland was upset his superb reverse stick shot, which looked destined for the back of the net, struck a Saintfield player on the foot.  But no penalty flick was awarded.

Saintfield then enjoyed a purple patch for a 10-minute spell, but Johnston was denied by Down's 'keeper from a short corner. James Erskine had his work cut out on the left hand side of the defence, sometimes forced to mark two men, but he never put a foot wrong.

In the closing stages of the game Owens was forced to vacate his sweeper's role to make the extra man up front, but Down countered the move by man-marking him.

Saintfield threw everything they had at Down in the closing stages and Johnston saw two short corners brilliantly saved by Down's 'keeper who also produced a fantastic double save with two minutes to go.

It was nail-biting stuff, but Down kept their composure in a frenetic last 60 seconds to maintain their two-goal lead and lift their first silverware since 1985.

At the end of the game, the Senior Two Cup was presented to Down skipper, Jeremy McCready by Ulster Branch president, Bertie Moore.

Last week's final was a credit to both teams. It was played in a sporting manner throughout and Saintfield were gracious in defeat.

The Demesne outfit proved they will be a force to be reckoned with next season and if they can hold on to their current squad, there's no reason why they can't make a determined bid for promotion.