Down 1-19 Longford 1-14
Longford’s eight year term in Division 3 ended at Páirc Esler in Newry with the hosts pulling away in the finish. Liam Kerr put the off colour visitors out of their misery with one round to go with a late 67th minute penalty.
Despite needing a draw or a win from the game and Down unable to go up or down the table, Longford never got into the contest. Joe Hagan’s pull down on Kerr for the match-deciding penalty saw the O’Byrne cup champions finish with 14 men.
Down overcame the lethargic nature of the earlier results, a low attendance as a result and a serious injury to their midfielder Mark Walsh and a lengthy delay for his treatment to finish with a flurry.
Pat Havern was excellent on the night and he landed three crucial second half points at full forward after excelling around the middle of the field in the first half. The sides were level six times in the first half and a symptom of the inertia.
Dessie Reynolds did flick home a goal that looked to spark the survival tilt but Down relentlessly pushed on thanks to man of the match Kerr.
The second half looked to be following the same script until Conor Laverty switched Havern inside. That created the space for Kerr to run through, get pulled down and Down duly took over.
Paddy Christie's men mustered a tame fightback with a Dylan Farrell free and a late Daire O’Brien shot that was taken off the line by Finn McElroy could not stop relegation.
SCORERS— Down: P Havern 0-5 (2f), L Kerr 1-5 (1-0pen, 4f), R Johnston and M Rooney 0-2 each, J Johnston, E Brown, N Kane (45), M Ireland and C McCrickard 0-1 each. Longford: D Farrell 0-5 (3f), D Reynolds 1-1, D Gallagher, K McGann, M Quinn, J Macken, F Sheridan, D O’Brien, D Mimnagh and O Kenny 0-1each
DOWN: C Smyth 6; P Fegan 6, R McEvoy 8, F McElroy 7, R Johnston 7, P Laverty 7, C Fitzpatrick 6; P Havern 9, M Walsh 6; M Rooney 8, D McAleenan 6, L Kerr 7; J Johnston 6, M Ireland 6, C McCrickard 6. SUBS: T Close 7 for Walsh (13), N Kane 6 for Smyth (ht), R Mason 6 for McCrickard (40), E Brown 6 for Ireland (40), C Francis 6 for J Johnston (54).
LONGFORD: P Collum 7; B O’Farrell 6, Andrew Farrell 7, P Fox 7; I O’Sullivan 7, M Quinn 7, R Moffet 6; J Macken 6, D Gallagher 7; D Farrell 8, D Mimnagh 7, J Hagan 6; R Brady 5, D Reynolds 8, O Kenny 6. SUBS: Aaron Farrell 6 for R Brady (40), P Foy 6 for O’Farrell (46), K McGann 6 for Kenny (46), D O’Brien 6 for Reynolds (60), F Sheridan 7 for Macken (68),
REF: S Laverty (Antrim)