Roscommon demonstrated the value of a strong bench on Saturday night when Cathal Cregg and Donie Smith kicked four points between them in the final ten minutes to secure a valuable away victory over Down.
The Mournemen had recovered from conceding an unanswered 1-4 before the break, a black card in each half and the sending off of Luke Howard in the 45th minute for a second bookable offence to close to within a point of the visitors.
Arthur McConville's palmed goal cut Roscommon's big lead to 1-11 to 1-10 with ten minutes to go, before Cregg came off the bench to kick three points from play and Smith landed another to claim an important win in Division 2 of the Allianz Football League.
"We looked at this as a big, big game because these young fellas want to stay in Division 2," said Roscommon manager John Evans. "We are not ready for Division 1, we don't have the pool of players. But staying in Division 2 is so important and we will be no pushovers this year."
Former Collingwood AFL player Caolan Mooney, who was making his first start for Down, was forced off with a hamstring injury early on.
After a lively opening 20 minutes which featured a number of high-quality scores from both teams, Senan Kilbride and Jerome Johnston with the pick of them, the Rossies hit an unanswered 1-4 before the break.
Taking over at midfield and with their forwards showing great movement, Ciaran Murtagh, Mark Nally and Kilbride picked off stylish long-range scores. Diarmuid Murtagh's goal on the stroke of half-time, deftly finishing off Kilbride's pass, put them 1-9 to 0-6 ahead.
The third quarter was bad-tempered. Conor Garvey became the second Down player to pick up a black card following Kevin McKernan's in the first half. Down hit 1-2 without reply before Cregg and Smith sealed the win. Man of the Match: Senan Kilbride
Scorers - Down: D O'Hare 0-3 (1f), A McConville 1-1, J Johnston 0-3, P Devlin 0-2 (1f, 1 '45'), C Maginn 0-1, P Fitzpatrick 0-1. Roscommon: D Murtagh 1-4 (2f), C Cregg 0-3, C Murtagh 0-2, S Kilbride 0-1, D Shine 0-1 (f), M Nally 0-1, N Daly 0-1, C Cafferkey 0-1, D Smith 0-1.
DOWN - S Kane 7; D O'Hagan 6, B McArdle 6, L Howard 6; P Devlin 7, D Turley 7, K McKernan 6; N Madine 6, P Fitzpatrick 7; C Maginn 7, C Laverty 7, C Mooney 6; C Crilly 6, D O'Hare 7, D Savage 6. Subs: J Johnston 8 for Mooney (15), C Garvey 6 for McKernan (BC, 25), M Poland 7 for Savage (31), A McConville 8 for Crilly (HT), D O'Hanlon 6 for Turley (HT), N Donnelly 6 for Garvey (BC, 45).
ROSCOMMON - D O'Malley 7; S McDermott 7, N Carty 6, N Collins 6; C Daly 6, N Daly 7, C Cafferkey 7; I Kilbride 7, C Shine 7; M Nally 8, D Shine 8, E Smith 8; C Murtagh 8, S Kilbride 9, D Murtagh 9. Subs: U Harney 7 for Nally (12), D Smith 7 for Shine (50), C Cregg 9 for D Murtagh (53), M Whyte 6 for O'Malley (53), F Kelly 6 for C Murtagh (63), C Compton 6 for E Smith (70).
REF - B Cassidy (Derry).