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Cribben's Offaly fail to take chances as Down prevail

Offaly produced their best performance under manager Tom Cribbin in a blistering opening 15 minutes, but it wasn't enough as Down ran out 1-12 to 1-10 winners and booked their place in the All-Ireland SFC qualifying fourth round.

As Richie Dalton lorded it in midfield, they were left to rue their failure to make the most of three great goalscoring chances.

So much so that Down manager James McCartan admitted afterwards that he was looking for a quick getaway from Tullamore.

When asked what was he thinking when Offaly had four clear goal chances in the opening 12 minutes at Tullamore? "I was looking for a fast car to be honest!" he quipped.

A speedy retreat would certainly have been needed if Offaly's four gilt-edged early chances had yielded more than just Ken Casey's second-minute goal.

Casey dropped a chance short to the 'keeper in the opening minute, Brendan McVeigh saved a John Reynolds shot after 11 minutes and Graham Guilfoyle was just plain unlucky when his decent effort came back off the woodwork. "There was that many holes in the dyke, I didn't know where to put my hand," McCartan said. "Offaly were scary at that stage -- the forwards and the pace they had coming at us. What they're doing in Division 3 I don't know."But the warning signs were already there.

With teenager Anton Sullivan playing a brilliant wandering role and Ciarán McManus and Ross Brady sharing the free-taking duties, they were leading by five after 14 minutes and still up, by three (1-6 to 0-6), at half-time.

Within six minutes of the restart, Down had doubled their free count and made that pay. Three minutes after the break, a well-taken goal by Aidan Carr gave them their first lead and frees from Mark Poland and Martin Clarke helped put them two clear.

"There's a serious future for them; they showed great character and are very young so it's all about keeping them together," said Cribbin afterwards.