McCartan heaps praise on gutsy effort
Down 0-13 Mayo 0-11
Down manager James McCartan is never one to mince his words so when he suggests that a fusion of "character and guts" could yet help his side preserve their cherished place in Division One of the Allianz Football League his observation carries considerable currency.
It might have been the almost tangible relief engendered by this overdue victory against a fiercely-driven Mayo side that saw McCartan dwell on his team's more earthy virtues but the ration of skill and finesse employed in sustaining their survival mission did much to curb the visitors' fiery dynamism.
"We did not play with the same fluidity as we did against Cork but the important thing is we got the two points," observed McCartan.
"We told the players that they would need to show character and guts and they went out and did just that.
"We have players in the team now whose brief it is to make it difficult for others to get back in when they are fit."
Donal O'Hare's huge points haul saw him crowned man of the match for a second successive week and by half-time he had corralled three scores as Down led 0-6 to 0-4.
But when Cathal Carolan (2), Jason Doherty (2) and Barry Moran led a blitz of Mayo scoring, the game was back in the melting point.
Until, that is, O'Hare garnished a stunning solo show with a spectacular final flourish.
Two further points saw him nudge Down in front (0-11 to 0-9) before Kevin McLoughlin (free) and goalkeeper Kenneth O'Malley ('45') swept over Mayo scores.
O'Hare however piloted over another sublime score and then delivered the score of the game in injury-time to ease his side's tribulations.
Down: B McVeigh; D McCartan, B McArdle, R Boyle; R Mallon (0-1), A Carr, K Quinn; K King, K McKernan; C Laverty (0-1), M Poland, P McComiskey (0-1); D O'Hare (0-9, 0-7 frees), C Harrison (0-1), B Coulter. Subs: D O'Hagan for Mallon (44 mins), J Johnston for Quinn (53), C Gough for King (60).
Mayo: K O'Malley; C Barrett, G Cafferkey, K Higgins; L Keegan, D Vaughan, C Boyle; B Moran, A O'Shea; K McLoughlin (0-2, both frees), R Feeney, C Carolan (0-3); E Varley, J Doherty (0-5, 0-4 frees), M Conroy (0-1). Subs: K Keane for Cafferkey (35 mins), G Cunniffe for Feeney (43), A Freeman for Vaughan (54), E Regan for Varley (62).
Referee: David Coldrick (Meath).