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Mournemen's bid for promotion thwarted

Down 1-6 Louth 0-10

By Gareth McCullough

Down missed out on the chance to earn promotion in their final game in Division Three as visiting Louth took a narrow victory at Pairc Esler yesterday.

Down began brightly, scoring the opening two points of the match inside the first six minutes. Ryan Johnston got the scoring under way from distance before Conor Poland produced another fine effort as he used the windy conditions to his advantage to put Down two in front.

Declan Byrne opened Louth's account in the seventh minute from the right before Caolan Mooney fired over at the other end when chance to go for goal was on. That was on 10 minutes, but it was to be Down's final score of the half as Wayne Kierans' men took over.

They were level with 15 minutes of the half remaining following James Califf's point from play and a close-range free off the boot of Sam Mulroy.

They went in front for the first time five minutes later as Mulroy converted another free to make it 0-4 to 0-3.

Louth then had a goal chance on 32 minutes when Byrne found himself in space to shoot but Down keeper Rory Burns came off his line to make a superb stop to deny the visitors.

Louth stretched their lead to four within six minutes of the restart courtesy of Tommy Durnin from play and another pair of Mulroy frees as the visitors continued to dominate possession and kickouts in particular.

Califf and Mulroy's fifth free of the game made it 0-9 to 0-3 with Down looking bereft of ideas, but they grabbed a lifeline on 53 minutes when Donal O'Hare's free was drifting wide before being palmed back into play to Darren O'Hagan and the Mourne captain blasted the ball into the roof of the net with his left foot.

Fergal Donohoe and Down sub Connaire Harrison exchanged scores before Paul Devlin closed the gap to two with five minutes left to play and when O'Hagan reduced the deficit to one, it looked as though a miraculous comeback might just be on.

However, despite late Down pressure, Louth held out to claim a deserved victory.

Scorers: Down: D O'Hagan (1-1); C Mooney (0-1); C Poland (0-1). Subs: P Devlin (0-1) for Flanagan (31), C Harrison (0-1) for B O'Hagan (49).

Louth: F Donohoe (0-1), T Durnin (0-1), J Califf (0-2); S Mulroy (0-5, all frees), D Byrne (0-1).

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