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All Ireland Qualifiers: Clarke keeps his cool as Down march past Longford

Down 1-14 Longford 1-10: Down bounced back from their Championship semi-final defeat by Tyrone to secure a place in the third round of the All Ireland football qualifiers at Pairc Esler.

Not for the first time Danny Hughes again played a significant role in the Mourne side’s victory, but he was the first to admit they must raise their game next time out if they are to keep alive their Championship aspirations.

“We played our best football in the first half, but in the second half it was all about closing the game out and not doing anything silly,” he said.

“We were all hurting badly after losing to Tyrone in the championship and the most important thing here was to get a win. It was a one of those nights that the result counted for much more than the actual performance.

“For long periods the conditions made this game a lottery and it would be wrong for anyone to judge us on this display.”

Hughes conceded there was no danger of anyone calling Down a second half team after this display and agreed there were shades of the Tyrone championship semi-final all over again.

“Every team has a 15 or 20 minute spell where they come at you and Longford were no different, but thankfully we coped and kept our composure,” he said.

Significantly it was Hughes who coped especially well in the closing stages when his splendidly taken point finally killed off Longford’s brave but ultimately unsuccessful challenge.

Down boss James McCartan will take this win and move on while realising that his side made heavy weather of securing a place in the third round of the All Ireland qualifiers.

They fought back into contention after being six points adrift at half time, but Martin Clarke’s superbly taken second half penalty marked the beginning of the end of Longford’s spirited resistance.

\[Peter Hutcheon\]The visitors inability to create scores from play ultimately proved their undoing and it was patently obvious they were totally reliant on free kicks for scores, while Down were able to play the ball through their forwards who always looked that bit sharper and more comfortable on the ball.

But it has to be a concern for the winners that they were outscored in the second half conceding a goal and seven pointsDOWN: B McVeigh, D Rooney (0-01) D Gordon, D Rafferty, D O'Hagan, J Colgan, C Garvey ), Ambrose Rodgers, Kalum King, Danny Hughes (0-03), Mark Poland (0-03) , Brendan Coulter (0-01), Conor Maginn , John Clarke (0-01), Martin Clarke(1-05). Subs: K McKernan for C Garvey, A Carr for C Maginn, C Laverty for J Clarke, P Fitzpatrick for M Poland

LONGFORD: D Sheridan, D Brady, B Gilleran, D Reilly, S Mulligan, E Williams, S Hannon, D Masterson, B McElvaney, P Dowd, Pl Barden (0-02), K Mulligan, F McGee (1-07), B Kavanagh, S McCormick, N Farrell 0-1 for S Hannon, P Kelly for K Mulligan.

Referee M Higgins (Fermanagh)

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