Disastrous return to Division One for Down as Donegal run riot in Newry
DOWN 0-7 DONEGAL 3-15
Down crashed and burned on their return to the top flight, Donegal bagging three second-half goals to romp to an easy opening round league win in Newry tonight.
Michael Murphy delivered a masterclass of kicking dead balls with 0-8 in total while Down, who only scored two points from play also lost Donal O'Hare to a straight red card four minutes from the end.
Ryan McHugh scored two goals in the second half, his Kilcar club-mate Patrick McBrearty with the other, in an embarrassing defeat for Down.
If new manager Eamonn Burns was in any doubt how tough life in Division One is going to be, the first half was a brutal reminder that mistakes at this level are routinely punished.
Early points from newcomer Ciaran Thompson and Patrick McBrearty, plus the first of Murphy's six first-half points, had Donegal coasting at 0-4 to 0-1 ahead after 16 minutes.
Down had one big chance to turn the tide when Ryan Johnston outsprinted Neil McGee to a poor Donegal kickout and won a penalty in the 19th minute.
McGee was sent-off with a black card after tripping the pacy Mourne attacker but Donal O'Hare's tame penalty was at a nice height for Peter Boyle and the 'keeper pushed his shot away.
Donegal made them pay, dominating the middle third and scored five unanswered points before the break.
Murphy's accuracy from dead balls was unerring and great to watch.
The sideline ball he converted from around the 13m line was a particular treat and ut them 0-6 to 0-3 up after 25 minutes.
As if Down's night wasn't already going downhill, they suffered a huge blow when Ryan Johnston was forced off with a suspected dislocated shoulder.
McBrearty nailed a left-footed free from distance before another brace of frees from Murphy gave the visitors a 0-9 to 0-3 interval lead.
Donal O'Hare ended a 21-minute scoring drought for Down with a 39th minute free, but two goals in a three minute spell any hope of a fightback by the home side.
Ryan McHugh started and finished the first goal five minutes after the restart, exchanging passes with Ciaran Thompson before palming the ball into an empty net.
Thompson had a hand in the second goal for McBrearty a few minutes later, his high ball in was brilliantly caught by the Kilcar forward who buried the ball low into the corner of the net in a super finish.
Donal O'Hare landed three frees but the game was long over as a contest and Ryan McHugh fisted home his second goal 12 minutes from the end to add to Down's embarrassment.
DOWN: S Kane; D O'Hagan, G McGovern, M Magee; M Hughes, C McGovern (0-1), R Boyle; P Turley, H Brown; J Murphy, M Poland, K McKernan; R Johnston, A McConville (0-2, 1f), D O'Hare (0-4, 4f)
Subs: C Harrison for Johnston (29), D O'Hanlon for Murphy (BC, 29), N Madine for McConville (39), M McKay for Turley (47), S Dornan for Poland (55), A Carr for C McGovern (BC, 58)
DONEGAL: P Boyle; E Doherty, N McGee, P McGrath; R McHugh (2-0), F McGlynn (0-1), A Thompson; O MacNiallais, H McFadden; M Carroll, C Thompson (0-1), E McHugh; P McBrearty (1-3, 2f), M Murphy (0-8, 7f), M O'Reilly
Subs: E McGee for N McGee (BC, 20), L McLoone (0-2) for Carroll (45), S McBrearty for MacNiallais (53), N Gallagher for C Thompson (59), R Kavanagh for O'Reilly (61), C McGonagle for R McHugh (63)
REFEREE: David Gough (Meath)