Offaly 0-9 Down 0-17
Down kept their promotion hopes alive with a convincing win over Offaly in a windswept O'Connor Park yesterday.
Down started without captain Darren O'Hagan and top marksman Donal O'Hare and while this was a blow, they didn't show any ill effects as their replacements James Guinness and Daniel Guinness stepped up.
Down had the wind to their backs in the opening half and they took advantage with several stunning long-range points, most notably from Cory Quinn and Kilcoo's Celium Doherty on his first National League start.
Barry O'Hagan and Offaly's Anton Sullivan traded points in the third and fourth minutes, which indicated a tight tussle, but the Faithful footballers were forced to wait another 26 minutes for their next score, in which time Down had taken a commanding six-point lead.
James Guinness and Doherty put Down ahead before Kevin McKernan was sin-binned for 10 minutes after body-checking Michael Brazil, yet Down held their shape and increased their lead with two Barry O'Hagan points before McKernan's return.
Down pressed up for the later part of the second half and with young Liam Kerr and Doherty influential, they stormed ahead. Barry O'Hagan and James Guinness added to their tally before Bernard Allen replied with Offaly's second and last point of the half.
James Guinness grabbed his third point, Barry O'Hagan his fifth and Kerr got off the mark with a converted free.
There was a huge cheer from the large Down crowd when Quinn's ambitious 50m effort curled between the posts, but they were reduced to 14 men for the second time as Johnny Flynn was sin-binned.
Down led 0-11 to 0-02 at the break but with the wind behind them Offaly made more of a game of it during the second period and with 55 minutes gone had cut the lead to 0-07 to 0-13.
Quinn and Kerr pointed for Down but Ruairi McNamee, Sullivan and Brazil fired over wind-assisted points and Offaly could have bagged a goal had it not been for Peter Fegan's block on Peter Cunningham.
Eoin Carroll split the posts with a beauty before picking up a second yellow and subsequent red on 59 minutes but Barry O'Hagan's sixth point and substitute Connaire Harrison's first of the campaign kept Down in the driving seat.
Scorers: Down: O'Hagan 0-6, 0-4 frees, Guinness 0-3, Kerr 0-3, 0-1 free, Quinn 0-2, Doherty 0-1, Harrison 0-1, McCabe 0-1.
Offaly: McNamee 0-3, 0-2 frees, Sullivan 0-2, Allen 0-1, Brazil 0-1, Carroll 0-1, Leavy 0-1.