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Benny Coulter out as Down are crushed by the Rossies

Roscommon 1-12 Down 0-06

By Declan Rooney

We could have seen the last of Benny Coulter in a Down shirt after manager Eamonn Burns confirmed he had withdrawn from the inter-county panel following their fourth league defeat of the season.

At Pearse Park in Longford, Down were easily outplayed by Roscommon who now look certain to retain their top flight status in 2017, while the Mourne men have a real fight on their hands to avoid an immediate return to the second tier.

Despite the defeat Burns said he was happy that his side were making progress, but confirmation that All-Star Coulter is no longer part of his plans has brought an untimely end to a comeback that was launched just before Christmas.

"Benny Coulter has withdrawn from the panel. He couldn't make the commitment due to work responsibilities. We have no one else coming in," said Down manager Burns.

Down looked like a side that are putting in a lot of work on the structure ahead of the Ulster championship.

For long periods they did frustrate Roscommon but in the end a return of six points will never win a game.

And with Dublin up next, points won't be any easier to come by next week for Down.

With a third Division 1 win in their pocket, Roscommon can almost start planning for 2017 as Ciaran Murtagh fired them to victory. His late penalty only swelled Roscommon's already impressive score difference as the win was already in the bag.

At the interval they led 0-7 to 0-4, although it could have been far more had Michael Cunningham not saved Conor Devaney's shot in the 23rd minute, while two injury-time points from Harrison and Mark Poland gave Down some respectability.

Darragh O'Hanlon impressed in defence, while Cunningham played well in goals before he fouled Fintan Cregg for the penalty late on and was black carded.

It looks like relegation for Down, but they are probably eyeing the summer.

Roscommon: G Claffey; S McDermott, N Collins, N McInerney; C Daly 0-2, S Purcell, D Murray; E Smith, I Kilbride; F Cregg 0-3 (0-1f), C Murtagh 1-6 (1-0 pen, 0-4f), C Devaney; C Connolly, S Kilbride, C Cregg 0-1. Subs: R Stack for Smith (36m), N Kilroy for S Kilbride (54m), R Daly for C Cregg (59m), C McHugh for Connolly (65m), C Shine for I Kilbride (68m), J McManus for McInerney (70m).

Yellows cards: N Collins (18m), D Murray (47m),

Black cards: S Kilbride (52m)Red cards: 0

Down: M Cunningham; R Boyle, G McGovern, G Collins; J Flynn, A Carr, D O'Hanlon 0-1; P Turley, M McKay; C Maginn, M Poland 0-1, R Mallon; C McGovern, C Harrison 0-2 (0-1f), B O'Hagan 0-1. Subs: D O'Hare for Harrison (52m), N Madine for O'Hagan (57m), P Devlin 0-1 for Poland (57m), D McKibbon for Flynn (65m), C Doyle for Maginn (68m), S Kane for Cunningham (69m, black card).

Yellow cards: C Harrison (18m), M McKay (25m), J Flynn (50m), R Boyle (62m),

Black cards: M Cunningham (69m)

Red cards: 0

Referee: Barry Cassidy (Derry)

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