Ryan back to save Limerick from relegation
Limerick 2-13 Louth2-11
Ian Ryan pointed the way as Limerick condemned 14-man Louth to successive relegations in Drogheda.
Making his first start in over a year, the St Senan's man showed the Treaty faithful exactly what they've been missing with an impressive eight-point salvo.
Seemingly down-and-out prior to the penultimate round of games, John Brudair's troops completed their great escape with a second win on the trot, and the final scoreline didn't do them justice as a couple of late Louth goals scratched some of the sheen from a comprehensive victory.
Dominant in the middle third, Limerick struggled to make their superiority count in the first half, but with Ryan in top form, they adjourned with a 0-8 to 0-7 cushion.
Louth made the brighter start to the second period to briefly take the lead, but Limerick were soon in control again as Peter Nash fired in their first goal and Ryan followed up with a free to make it 1-9 to 0-9.
Already in some distress, Louth lost corner-back Kevin Toner to a straight red after an off-the-ball incident with Ryan, who then teed up Pa Ranahan for Limerick's second goal four minutes later.
Ryan Burns fired in a superb goal to give Louth some hope and he set up Conor Grimes for their second in injury-time, but it was too late to inspire a revival.
Man of the match: Ian Ryan (Limerick).
Scorers - Limerick: I Ryan 0-8 (6fs), P Nash 1-1, P Ranahan 1-0, I Corbett, R Browne, D Neville, G Hegarty 0-1 each; Louth: R Burns 1-4 (0-3fs), C Judge 0-3 (1f), C Grimes 1-0, D Crilly 0-2, D Maguire, E O'Connor.
Limerick - B Scanlon 7; S Cahill 7, J McCarthy 7, R Browne 8; I Corbett 7, P Browne 7, P Renehan 8; T Lee 7, G Hegarty 7; J Riordan 6, D Tracey 5, C Fahy 7; P Nash 7, S Buckley 7, I Ryan 8. Subs: D Neville 7 for Tracey (8, BC), C Sheehan 6 for Riordan (46), S O'Dea for Cahill (66), M Brosnan for Nash (69), J Lee for Ryan (70).
Louth - N Gallagher 6; K Toner 7, P Reilly 8, P Rath 6; A Williams 6, D Finnegan 7, J Stewart 5; B Duffy 6, E O'Connor 6; C Judge 7, D Byrne 6; R Burns 8, D Crilly 7, D Maguire 7. Subs: C Grimes 6 for Stewart (30), R Moore 6 for Byrne (53), S O'Hanlon 6 for Crilly (55), D O'Connor for E O'Connor (59).
Ref - M McNally (Monaghan).
Kelly on target in Sligo rout of Armagh
Sligo 1-19 Armagh1-8
If there was a way to avoid the drop this was it - an 11-point defeat of Kieran McGeeney's Armagh - as Sligo gave their fans belief that the Niall Carew era could be a productive one following this 1-19 to 1-8 home win at Markievicz Park.
Sligo stay in Division Three following a topsy-turvy campaign, but Armagh are heading to Division Two and having promotion sorted out before their trip to the north-west explains why McGeeney was able to reshuffle his starting 15, with debuts for Eoin McArdle and centre-forward Paul McKenna.
But after conceding 20 scores to an energetic and skilful Sligo, Armagh know a similar sluggish display won't suffice against Fermanagh in the Division Three final or in the Ulster championship.
Sligo dominated from the outset and their 0-12 to 0-4 interval lead was a reward for some excellent play during a wind-assisted first-half.
Adrian Marren's finishing caught the eye, the superb Brendan Egan and Neil Ewing put in the spadework, and there was another top show from U-21 player Cian Breheny at midfield.
David Kelly's close-range goal left Sligo with an unassailable lead, 1-12 to 0-4, seconds after the restart.
Armagh produced a moment of class later on in the one-sided second-half when Andrew Murnin goaled from a move involving substitutes Mark Shields and Kevin Dyas.
Man of the match: Brendan Egan (Sligo).
Scorers - Sligo: A Marren 0-8 (5fs); M Breheny 0-5 (5fs), D Kelly 1-1; P Hughes, N Ewing, C Breheny, N Murphy, K Cawley 0-1 each. Armagh: A Murnin 1-1; E McVerry 0-4 (4fs); G McParland 0-2 (1f); S Harold 0-1.
Sligo: A Devaney 6, D Maye 6, K McDonnell 6, R Donovan 7, K Cawley 6, E Flanagan 6, B Egan 9, N Murphy 7, C Breheny 7, N Ewing 8, M Breheny 6, C Davey 6, D Kelly 7, P Hughes 7, A Marren 8. Subs: S Gilmartin 5 for Davey 54; C Kerins 5 for Ewing 65; N Gaughan 5 for Egan 70; J Martyn 5 for Donovan 70; S Coen 5 for Kelly 70; P Clarke 5 for Marren 70+1.
Armagh: P Morrison 6, A Mallon 5, C Vernon 5, J Morgan 5, C McKeever 6, E McArdle 5, M Murray 5, S Harold 6, P Carragher 6, B Donaghy 5, P McKenna 5, E McVerry 5, S Forker 5, G Parland 6, A Murnin 7. Subs: A Findon 5 for Carragher h-t; T Kernan 5 for Donaghy h-t; M Shields 5 for McArdle h-t; K Dyas 5 for McKenna, 50; O Mac Íomhair 5 for Parland 52; N McConville 5 for Forker 60.
Ref - Derek Fahy (Longford).