Down hurling boss Gerard Monan was left to bemoan earlier slip-ups in the competition when his side finished their Allianz League Division 2A campaign by overcoming Mayo by 1-22 to 1-14 at Newry.
"Maybe if we had shown a little more consistency we might just have made it into the final but it wasn't to be. We will now be setting our sights on the forthcoming Christy Ring Cup fixture against Kerry," said Monan.
Paul Braniff was again Down's prime source of scores landing eight in all, while Scott Nicholson also chipped in with some fine points and Daniel Toner's second-half goal proved the precursor to a glide to the finish line.
The impressive form shown by Conor Woods at midfield and the cohesion revealed by his attack were certainly plus-factors from Monan's perspective.
"Conor was very effective throughout and I was happy with the way in which we took our scores," said Monan. "Our challenge now is to build on this performance for the championship."
Mayo full-forward Sean Regan was impressive throughout, helping himself to a raft of scores while centre-half-back Padraig O'Flynn did his best to stem the Down attack when it was in full flow.
"We will be meeting more formidable opposition further along the line and hopefully we will be back to something like full strength for the Christy Ring Cup," added Monan.
But while he was offered a ration of encouragement, his Armagh counterpart David Kennedy was left under a cloud after his team lost by 3-18 to 1-10 to a lively Meath side who will now meet London in the divisional final.
Barry Slevin inflicted major damage on Armagh's morale by helping himself to 2-5, while Bart Hanley's third goal merely emphasised the gulf that separated the teams.
Ciaran Reid had given Armagh a frisson of hope with a well-taken goal that made the score 2-6 to 1-6 at the half-way stage and Matthew Lennon's five points (four frees) kept the team afloat for a spell but in the second-half Meath proved rampant, their attack pummelling the visitors' rearguard incessantly.
Derry endured heartbreak following their long haul to Kerry where they lost by a point in Division 2A (1-13 to 1-12) having been 1-9 to 0-4 in arrears at half-time before their splendid second-half recovery fell just short.
Fingal proved too strong for Donegal winning by 2-11 to 1-9, while Fermanagh accounted for Monaghan by 1-9 to 0-10 and Louth went on a goal spree against Tyrone before winning the game by 5-11 to 0-15. Tyrone will face Monaghan in a relegation play-off.