Down pay the ultimate price on last lap as inquest begins
The post-mortems are only just beginning following Down's demotion to Division Three of the Allianz Football League even though they concluded their campaign at the weekend by getting the better of Tipperary by 2-11 to 1-11.
The odds had been stacked against Eamon Burns' team surviving because their hopes also depended upon already relegated Louth beating Meath but that did not transpire with Andy McEntee's side coming out on top by 1-12 to 0-7.
A topsy-turvy league campaign that saw them beat promoted Roscommon on their own ground yet fall to Clare and Cork in Newry has ended in disaster.
A third-minute goal from Sean Dornan against Tipperary was complemented by a second from a Donal O'Hare penalty with the latter, along with Caolan Mooney, Conor Maginn and Ryan Johnston, sharing in a points-scoring spree as Down eased to their three-point win only to discover that Meath would be staying up.
Neil Collins, an All-Ireland winner as a goalkeeper with Down in 1991 and 1994 and currently a member of the county management team, has already laid it on the line about where things went wrong for the team.
"While it was a decent performance against Tipperary, the damage had already been done earlier in the league," declared Collins.
"We were not ruthless enough in earlier matches.
"We shot 15 wides against Cavan and missed five goal chances against Clare and those have now proved to be telling statistics," he added.
Meanwhile, Dublin regained the Allianz League title when they beat Galway 0-18 to 0-14 yesterday at Croke Park in a throbbing final that was embellished with a championship fervour.
Even though they lost Niall Scully to a red card at the start of the last quarter, Dublin still showed clinical efficiency in closing out the game.
At 0-13 each, Galway were still very much in the hunt but, just like earlier in the game, they were guilty of unforced errors which were punished by their opponents.
Ciaran Kilkenny was outstanding for Dublin while Dean Rock proved a rich source of points from play.