Down’s senior side is on the brink of winning the Senior Two title, even though it still has seven games to play.

This comprehensive win over Ballymena takes Down five points clear of Saintfield at the top-of-the-table, having played a game less.

A win this Saturday would virtually guarantee Down the title, but the players are taking nothing for granted and know they can't afford any slip-ups. They still have to go to Armagh and face Portrush at home and if they can defeat Saintfield at home next weekend, the title will be in the bag.

Down can only throw the league away and are conscious that they need to maintain the consistency that has been at the heart of their successful season to date.

Last weekend against Ballymena, whom Down defeated 10-0 at home, they were missing Gavin Ringland, but were boosted by the return from injury of Aaron Minnis who was outstanding.

At this point in the season when winning is often more important than the performance, Down scored within seconds of the game starting. They were awarded a short corner and when Chris Taylor's shot was saved by the 'keeper, Paul Tate nipped in to push the ball over the line.

A minute later, the visitors went 2-0 ahead with a carbon copy goal. Taylor again controlled the ball from a short corner and when his shot was again saved, the rebound fell to Stephen Ferguson who blasted home.

It was all one-way traffic at this stage and Down went 3-0 ahead after eight minutes. Tate's goal-bound shot was somehow saved by the Ballymena 'keeper but the ball rebounded to Taylor who was in the right place at the right time to score his first of the afternoon.

While Down goalkeeper, Mark Johnston, had relatively little to do, he was called into action on two occasions in the first half to keep his goal intact and pave the way for keeping another clean sheet.

Chris Lennon was exploiting lots of space he had on the left and started the move which led to his side's fourth goal. He exchanged passes with Chris Taylor before picking out Tate who slipped the ball to Ashley Gibson.

He controlled the ball in an instant on the reverse before flicking it up and smashing an unstoppable shot into the net. Brilliant.

But the scoring still wasn't over and Down made it 5-0 just five minutes before the umpires signalled the end of the first half. Tate netted his second of the game when he converted after a penetrating run by Ferguson which saw him cut a huge hole in the Ballymena defence.

Despite such a healthy lead, Down skipper, Jeremy McCready ripped into his players at halftime, making it clear he was far from happy with the performances some of them were producing. He also warned against complacency, both in the second half and during the remaining games of the season.

Down's sixth goal was a perfect team goal. McCready started the move, slipping the ball to Ferguson who in turn fed Lennon. He passed to Taylor who beat his man to set up a chance for Tate. While the midfielder's initial shot was saved, he was on hand to hammer the rebound back past the 'keeper into the net to complete his hat-trick.

Goal number seven came from the penalty spot after a goal-bound shot was illegally kept out and Gibson stepped forward to score his second of the afternoon.

With Ballymena waiting for the final whistle, Down made it 8-0 when Mark Elliott scored after Lennon and Taylor had again combined to scythe their way through the home defence.

An easy win in the end for Down, but not everyone played to full capacity last weekend. That must change this weekend at home to Armagh and again the following Saturday when Saintfield are the visitors to Malone Park.