Down seconds are in the final of the Ulster Junior Shield.

They defeated Portadown seconds 3-1 last Saturday to book their place in the next month's showpiece final when they will face Cookstown fourths.

Down are the only Junior 4 side left in the competition and they produced a superb display last Saturday to make it to the final of a competition they last won four years ago.

To reach the final, Down have defeated three teams who play in a league above them and they will have to repeat that feat when they face Cookstown next month.

Johnny Lennon's side has been a model of consistency in recent weeks and the semi-final win was based on solid defending and some superb forward play.

Portadown seconds, who were thumped 9-0 by Down's senior side in an Irish Junior Cup tie earlier in the season, were out for revenge and while they played well in the first half after conceding an early goal, the home side rarely threatened Down 'keeper, Mark Johnston.

The visitors took the lead in the 10th minute from an unlikely, but delighted goal scorer. Trevor McClurg moved forward for a short corner and brilliantly finished off a superb move. Colin Gibson's push out to brother Ashley saw the ball worked back to the bye-line for Colin to square the ball to McClurg who hammered it into the net for a superb opener.

Portadown then took a firm grip on the game and while they enjoyed quite a lot of possession for the remainder of the half, they failed to get a telling shot in on goal. McClurg and defensive partner Willie Price were outstanding, using all their experience to keep the home forwards at bay.

Portadown were keen to get back on level terms in the second period and this they did in the 45th minute, with the equaliser coming from a short corner.

The goal could have had a negative impact, but Down used the set-back to raise their game to another level, with Gibson and Mark Elliott causing all sorts of problems up front.

Down went 2-1 ahead in the 50th minute when Ashley Gibson silenced the vociferous home support with a goal of deadly precision. It came from a short corner. Brother Colin pushed the ball to Ashley who took aim, pulled the trigger and fired an unstoppable shot past the 'keeper into the net.

With a one-goal advantage, many teams would have sat back, but Down kept driving forward and their efforts were rewarded. A piece of quick-thinking between Colin Gibson and Lennon saw the ball squared to the skipper just inside the penalty area and he drilled home an unstoppable shot.

The goal was a sucker punch which left Portadown on the ropes and when the visitors went with four in the middle in the closing stages and Elliott intelligently holding the ball up in the closing stages, the outcome was never going to be in doubt.

As the rain poured down in the second period, the visitors held on for a superb and thoroughly deserved win against a side riding high in Junior 3. Johnny Lennon's side now go into the final brimming with confidence. Down feared no one in the competition to date and will adopt a similar attitude for next month's final.