Down blew away Larne on one of the stormiest nights of 2006 with a fantastic performance which saw them hammer home 10 goals.

The Malone Park side blasted out a warning to its title rivals that it aims to go one better than last season and clinch a place in Senior One.

It was this fixture which cost Down the title last year when they dropped two vital points and it looked as though things were not going to go their way last Friday night when Larne scored after 10 minutes.

The goal provided the spark the visitors needed and they produced a scintillating display of controlled hockey, with almost every goal a classic.

Down's passing game was simply too much for Larne who lie at the foot of the table after a miserable start to the season.

The visitors, who were missing Alasdair Duff, Jeremy McCready and Ashley Gibson, were in a class of their own, destroying the opposition and cutting huge holes in the defence at will.

Jareth McCready was drafted in as sweeper alongside James Erskine, with Chris Lennon and Paul Neill occupying the two full-back berths.

Down created a number of half chances in the opening five minutes through Gavin Ringland, Mark Elliott and Chris Taylor, with the latter going on to complete a sumptuous hat-trick.

But it was Larne who opened the scoring when Mark Johnston, who won't have a quieter game all season, was beaten with a shot from an unmarked forward.

Any hope of a shock result was soon dispelled when the visitors equalised through James Cunningham who is enjoying an outstanding season.

He was on hand to finish off a slick move in the sixth minute to score the first of his side's 10 goals as the Larne challenge capitulated.

Elliott was the architect of Down's second goal on the night when he dispossessed a Larne defender who carried the ball out of his defence to almost the halfway line. Elliott scampered away towards goal and after drawing the 'keeper off his line, unselfishly squared the ball to Taylor who scored the first of this three goals.

In the 15th minute, Taylor produced the perfectly executed drag flick following a short corner to send the ball high into the top corner of the net.

With a two-goal cushion at the break, Down were determined to stamp their authority during the second period and surprised themselves scoring another six goals to complete a comprehensive rout on a night when everything the visitors did was superb.

Elliott made it 4-1 when he finished off a sweeping move before Taylor nipped in to score his second of the night to give his side a four-goal cushion.

Down's sixth was scored by that man Cunningham. Handed a free role in the middle of the park, his non-stop running and tackling were terrific and his second goal capped a fine individual performance.

Stephen Ferguson made it 7-1 before Elliott grabbed his second of the night, again finishing off a flowing move which left Larne defenders all at sea.

Taylor completed his hat-trick to make it 9-1 before Ferguson grabbed his second of the game with a bullet strike which flew into the net courtesy of a deflection off Elliott's stick.

With no game this Saturday, Down will be putting the extra effort into their next few training sessions ahead of the clash against Saintfield on January 13.