Down and Donegal joined Armagh and Tyrone in the penultimate stages of the Ulster U20 football championship by recording wins over Antrim and Cavan respectively at the weekend.
Conor McCrickard and Owen McCabe proved key to Down's 4-15 to 3-13 victory by grabbing important goals against an Antrim side that was prone to defensive lapses. Kevin Small and Liam Quinn hit the Down net at vital stages to keep the Saffrons in the hunt but Down clinically closed out the game.
Down boss Conor Deegan will be concerned by the manner in which his side conceded three goals.
Yet he can take several positives from his team's victory, including the impressive form of McCrickard and McCabe and the telling contribution made by left half-forward Daniel Guinness, who tore in for two superb late points.
Skipper Oisin McConvey and full-back Finn McIlroy were others to impress but Down know they have work to do as they begin to focus on the Ulster title.
And if Down can look on the bright side, then Donegal undoubtedly have cause for optimism.
Yesterday at Celtic Park, Niall O'Donnell, rated as one of the most exciting players to have emerged in the county for some considerable time, turned in a scintillating solo scoring show as his side romped past Cavan by 2-21 to 0-10.
His goal followed Donegal's first from Nathan Boyle, and with the former unerring from frees and play, the north-west side were very much in cruise control in the second-half.