Magnificent Down seconds hammered out a seven goal warning to their Ulster Junior Shield rivals at Malone Park last weekend.

The locals last got their hands on the famous old trophy four years ago and they are hoping that 2006 could just be their year again.

With a home tie against Antrim thirds in the next round, Down would be just one game away from a place in the semi-finals if they win that one. And the biggest incentive they have to overcome Antrim is that they will be at home in the third round.

Last weekend, Down literally blew the opposition away with their two strikers, Ashley Gibson and Mark Elliott, gunning down Raphoe with military precision.

Elliott finished with a superb four-goal haul, but Gibson wasn't far behind him. He bagged a hat-trick as they set out their intentions for an impressive cup run.

The last time Down seconds won the Junior Shield, they also secured promotion and with the Malone Park side currently in fourth place in Junior 4, could history be about to repeat itself?

Raphoe, who are not used the to shale surface, took time to settle and by the time they had focused on the game, they were three goals in arrears.

Down scored the first of their magnificent seven in the 10th minute when a sweeping move allowed Gibson to fire his side into a well deserved lead.

The move was started by the once again impressive Paul Neill. He picked out Elliott who unselfishly set up Gibson to drill the ball past the 'keeper, who, despite conceding seven goals, did not have a bad afternoon.

The move was started by the once again impressive Paul Neill. He picked out Elliott who unselfishly set up Gibson to drill the ball past the 'keeper, who, despite conceding seven goals, did not have a bad afternoon.

Down's second goal came after a short corner set piece failed to produce the goods and the ball broke free. Ashley and Colin Gibson then won back possession, with the latter teeing up Elliott who was delighted to score the first of his double double.

The Saintfield teacher gave Raphoe a lesson in finishing and the Donegal men must have been glad to see the back of him at the final whistle.

Indeed it was that man Elliott who put his side into the comfort zone minutes before the half-time whistle when he made it 3-0.

Down were aware Raphoe would try and make a bid to get back into the game at the start of the second half and that is exactly what they did, scoring a rather scrappy goal within minutes of the restart.

The strike unsettled Down's rhythm and for a 10 minute spell, play became bogged down in the middle of the park, as Raphoe tried to mount more attacks.

But their resistance was only temporary and Elliott completed his hat-trick to give his side a three-goal cushion again.

Gibson, who proved the perfect foil for his strike partner, then weighed with a double of his own, one of which included a sublime reverse stick shot past the 'keeper after a scintillating move involving Neill, Elliott and Raymond McClurg, who once again excelled in the middle of the park.

Elliott pounced in the closing stages to make it 7-1 as Down sent out a warning that they plan to mount a serious challenge in the competition.