Down manager James McCartan was served up a pre-season boost that embraced both youth and experience when his side drew with Meath in a special challenge game in aid of the Ryan Doyle fund at Pairc Esler, Newry.
Both Danny Savage (Bryansford) and Ryan Kelly (Longstone) seized the opportunity to serve notice that they covet regular recognition in the Mourne attack with the latter helping himself to four first-half points as his side went on to assemble 1-10 to Meath’s 2-7.
And if the young guns showed a marked appetite on their introduction to the inter-county sphere, then the more seasoned Paul McComiskey and Conor Garvey were no less impressive on their return to the red and black jersey.
McComiskey had taken time out from county commitments this year while Garvey, his 2012 season having been disrupted by injury and suspension, scored two fine points from play.
Daniel McCartan, Brendan McArdle and Peter Turley were prominent in the Down rearguard, substitute Aidan Burns took his goal well and Aidan Carr’s skills as a playmaker were evident at centrethreequarters.
Down looked to be on the way to victory when they led by four points entering the closing minutes but a point from the ever-dangerous Peader Byrne and a last-gasp goal from Kieran McConnell saw the contest end in stalemate.
Down play their opening McKenna Cup game against Cavan at Breffni Park on Sunday.
Meanwhile, the Tyrone U21 Grade One final between Dromore and Edendork will be played today at Dunmoyle, having been postponed yesterday because of the death of Edendork’s honorary president Joe Mallon.