Beaten McCorry will build for the future
Wexford 2-16 Down 2-11
Down manager Jim McCorry admitted he was gutted after Saturday's All-Ireland Senior Football 1B Qualifier loss to Wexford at the victors' home ground.
The clash had been billed as a game where free-flowing football would reign supreme and that proved true.
"It was a good open game of football but it's very disappointing to be cleaned out in that last quarter. In fairness to Wexford, they kept coming at us," McCorry opined.
However, his hopes for Down's future remain intact. He continued: "Our first target was to earn promotion to Division One so we're pleased at that. We'll regroup now and see what resources are available to us because we will need to strengthen the squad and we'll have a look at that over the championship period in Down. It's the first year, it's a building process and this is over a three-year period rather than over six months."
With opportunities aplenty, adrenaline was pumping around Innovate Wexford Park. The game was end-to-end for the most part but the hosts, bolstered by their enthusiastic support, enjoyed two excellent quarters to close both halves.
While Jerome Johnston had put the visitors 1-3 to 0-3 clear after 15 minutes when he finished off some fine play by Mark Poland and Conor Laverty, Wexford produced a stirring finish to the half. They outscored the Mournemen by six points to one as Laverty kept his side within two points at half-time.
Normal service resumed upon the restart as Wexford's star attacker Ciarán Lyng sent over an unanswered trio of points. Down subsequently tackled their deficit with grit and resolve.
A 52nd-minute brace from Caolán Mooney and Laverty reduced the difference to just two points.
However, brothers Naomhán and Tiernan Rossiter both found the net within 70 seconds of each other to undo all of Down's steady gains. After a string of substitutes, Niall Madine replied with a major indebted to the vision of Laverty but Down could not kick on.
Down: S Kane; D O'Hagan, L Howard, D Turley; C Garvey, K McKernan, R Boyle; P Fitzpatrick, C Mooney (0-2); P Devlin (0-2 fs), M Poland (0-2), C Maginn; D O'Hare (0-2 fs), C Laverty (0-2), J Johnston (1-1). Subs: R Johnston for C Maginn (43m); P Downey for P Fitzpatrick (47m); A McConville for D O'Hare (59m); N Madine (1-0) for K McKernan (60m); R McGarry for M Poland (60m).
Wexford: S Roche; R Tierney, N Rossiter (1-0), J Wadding; S Donohoe, G Molloy (0-1), A Flynn; S Byrne, B Malone; T Rossiter (1-1), B Brosnan (0-3, 1 f), K Butler (0-1); C Lyng (0-6 5 fs), M O'Regan (0-3), K O'Grady (0-1). Subs: Eoghan Nolan for Adrian Flynn (black card, 17m); A Masterson for S Roche (31m); J Tubritt for K Butler (59m); J Breen for N Rossiter (65m); P Byrne for M O'Regan (72m).
Referee: Cormac Reilly (Meath).