Down seconds ended the year in style with an impressive win over Queen's at Malone Park.

The win leaves Johnny Lennon's side well placed to make a concerted bid for promotion in the New Year and if Down can maintain their current consistency, they will be among the pacesetters come April.

They gave the Queen's players a lesson on how to play on the shale surface and could have scored a bagful of goals on the day.

The victory was based on the performance of goalkeeper, Johnny Briggs. He produced three outstanding saves in the opening 10 minutes to keep his side in the game.

The blocks proved crucial in the final analysis as his side ran out worthy winners. In fact Down dominated the game so much after their poor start that Briggs did not have to make a save for the remainder of the afternoon.

The home side, who were spurred on the middle of the park by James Cunningham and Colin Gibson, took the game by the scruff of the neck after their early setback and Cecil Telford and Philip Brown both went close.

Clifford Lennon nearly opened his side's account when he ghosted in at the back post and was inches away from tapping home a cross by the hard-working Telford.

Skipper Lennon urged his side to maintain their first half momentum in the second period and his players answered the call.

Down took the lead in the 50th minute when Telford, who had a fine match, scored one of his trademark goals.

Picking the ball up on the edge of the penalty area he took aim and fired home an unstoppable shot which flashed past the 'keeper before he had time to move.

The goal knocked the stuffing out of Queen's and it was no surprise when the home side increased their advantage in the 60th minute.

Cunningham, who has made a fairy tale start to his hockey career, was in the right place at the right time to deflect home a cross past the Queens 'keeper who was left stranded.

As Briggs watched the action unfold in front of him, Down continued to create chances, but they were unable to increase their advantage.

Going into the Christmas break, Down are placed in the top four in the league and while they have a tough New Year opener away to Civil Service, they can get a result at Stormont. After that they face Raphoe fourths at home and will be banking on maximum points from this fixture.