Industrious Poland on hand to crown Down's facile triumph
Down had no difficulty in maintaining their unbeaten record in Division 2 when they recorded a facile 13-point win over already relegated Westmeath at Cusack Park yesterday afternoon.
James McCartan's men dominated right from the off, despite Westmeath having wind advantage in the first half.
The winners were very wasteful early on and should have been much more than two points to the good by the time Ambrose Rodgers rounded off a fine move with a great goal from 15 metres, on the quarter-hour mark.
Indeed, Rodgers and Kalum King ruled the roost in and around midfield, despite some occasional high fielding from David Duffy of Westmeath.
With full back Brendan McArdle in outstanding form in rare Westmeath attacks, an outclassed home side were fortunate to trail by only eight points at the break, with James McCartan's charges leading by 1-8 to 0-3.
The Mournemen continued to dominate on the change of ends and an inevitable second goal duly arrived in the 48th minute, Mark Poland palming the ball to the net from point-blank range when teed up by Ronan Murtagh.
At times, the Ulster side toyed with their opponents, stringing together lengthy passing movements, virtually unchallenged.
Down had the luxury of resting a number of players midway through the second half as they eased their way to a victory which guarantees them promotion to Division 1 next season.
Brendan Hackett's men finished the game with 14 men, Doran Harte receiving a straight red card in added-time, as Westmeath suffered the ignominy of losing a 13th league game on the trot since February 2009, slumping from Division 1 to Division 3 in the process.
Scorers -- Down: M Poland 1-4, (0-3 f), A Rodgers 1-3 (0-1 '45), R Murtagh , J Clarke 0-3 each, D Hughes, C Maginn 0-1 each.
Westmeath: M Flanagan 0-3 (0-2f, 0-1 s/l), J Smyth 0-2, P Greville (0-1f), G Hoey, G Flanagan 0-1 each.
Down -- D Alder; D McCartan, B McArdle, D Rafferty; K McKernan, J Colgan, C Garvey; A Rodgers, K King; D Hughes, M Poland, S Kearney; R Murtagh, J Clarke, B Coulter. Subs: C. Maginn for Poland (48), P Fitzpatrick for Kearney (52), A Brannigan for Garvey (54), A Carr for Coulter, (56), K Duffin for Rafferty (56).
Westmeath -- G Connaughton; K Gavin, D O'Donoghue, J Gaffey; M Dalton, M Ennis, G Glennon; G Flanagan, D Duffy; P Bannon, A Finnan, D Harte; P Greville, M Flanagan, J Smyth. Subs: W Murtagh for Gavin (20), S Bracken for Bannon (34), G Hoey for Murtagh (50), W Coyne for Ennis (50), F Wilson for Finnan (57).
Ref -- G Ó Conamha (Galway).