Down seconds made hay while the sun shone at Malone Park last weekend with the win over Raphoe fourths very welcome.

The locals had the luxury of naming four substitutes and once again all the young players did really well with Philip Cheevers outstanding at the heart of the home defence alongside Philip Brown and full-backs James Ferguson and Ryan Swail.

Down played well from the off, but Raphoe showed they would be no pushovers and the game was a great advert for Junior 6 hockey. Both sides were prepared to play a passing game with both 'keepers particularly busy over the 70 minutes.

Philip Moreland almost gave the home side the lead in the 11th minute but his shot was charged down and then an effort by Down skipper Mark Graham was well saved. The ball looped up into the air off the 'keeper’s pads and Andy Teggart opted for a wild swing at the ball, instead of keeping calm and dinking the ball into the net.

Jordan Aidey had a shot saved in the 15th minute before Swail broke up a dangerous Raphoe attack as the visitors looked to counter-attack at every opportunity. Teggart and Aidey combined well but the latter’s shot was saved while Philip Brown tested the Raphoe ‘keeper with a shot on the reverse.

Down's first short corner in the 16th minute saw shots from both Cheevers and Teggart saved before Graham was also denied by the visitors’ ‘keeper.

Duff set up Matthew Lennon with three minutes of the half remaining but the teenagerÕs shot was saved and in the final minute Down were awarded a short corner. The ball came to Cheevers whose shot struck a defender on the foot and on to the crossbar before the ball rebounded to Philip Brown who couldnÕt get the control he wanted to divert the ball into the net.

The had-working Gary Brown who ran the midfield for Down won his side a short corner within five minutes of the restart, but the ‘keeper denied Duff. Three minutes later the home side took the lead with a cracking goal.

Cheevers shot was blocked by a defender and when it broke to Graham he couldnÕt have caught the ball any better and it flew into the net. Duff, who was outstanding alongside Gary Brown, almost teed up William Fryer and then Graham set up Philip Brown who was moved to centre-forward, but the striker's control let him down when it mattered most.

Porter's shot on goal in the 47th minute was saved before Graham saw his shot hacked off the line by a Raphoe defender. The move of the game involving Wade, Aidey and Graham deserved a goal but a goal-bound shot from the latter was cleared.

Down ‘keeper David Moreland had a much busier second half and had to make a number of saves, while his opposite number got down low to keep a Duff short corner out of the net in the 56th minute.

The home side was pressing forward at this stage in search of a second goal and it came with 11 minutes to go from a short corner. Wade's shot was blocked by the ‘keeper but Duff's quick reactions saw him pounce on the rebound to smash it into the net.

With seconds to go, a Raphoe forward scored from what looked like an impossible angle, but Down had already done enough to secure the win and those very welcome three points.