Down keep 100 per cent home record against Longford

Liam Kerr scored 1-5 as Down beat Longford in Newry
Liam Kerr scored 1-5 as Down beat Longford in Newry Liam Kerr scored 1-5 as Down beat Longford in Newry

 Allianz Football League Division Three round six Down 1-19 Longford 1-14

DOWN needed a 66th-minute penalty from Liam Kerr to finally see off the challenge of a dogged Longford side in Newry on Saturday evening.

Though Fermanagh’s win over Westmeath earlier on Saturday afternoon had ended the Mouremen’s promotion challenge, selector Declan Morgan was especially pleased that Down had made it three League wins from three in Newry.

‘‘Home form is massive, especially when the Championship game is at home in a number of weeks, we want to get as good a performance against Donegal as we possibly can and it’s great to play as many games as you can in Newry before that,” said Morgan. 

Páirc Esler has been something of a fortress this year with Down’s only competitive home defeat being a penalty shoot-out loss to Derry in the McKenna Cup and they started well again, with Liam Kerr pointing to give them an early lead.

The game was then interrupted for 10 minutes as treatment was provided to Mark Walsh for what appeared a serious injury.

“Mark was in a lot of pain. It’s not for us to surmise or make predictions and I suppose we’re not the medical experts but it didn’t look good. Our hearts go out to Mark because he’s a brilliant fella. He’s epitomised everything that’s been good about this group the whole way through the winter,” Morgan said. 

When play got back underway the first half proved an even affair with the teams finding themselves level on no fewer than six occasions. The best of the Down scores came from the Kilcoo contingent as Ryan Johnston converted well and Miceal Rooney, who was Down’s stand-out player on the evening, tagged two on also. Longford always kept in touch though, and a flicked Dessie Reynolds goal after Darren Gallagaher dropped a shot short gave them a real lift in first-half stoppage-time.  

A blistering run from Liam Kerr led to a fisted score to give Down lift off at the start of the second half but the point-taking of Dylan Farrell gave Longford reason for optimism. Four second-half points from the corner forward left only a single point in it with a little over 10 minutes to play. As the Longford defence tired, the running power of Kerr and Ryan Johnston began to create more openings and it was a run from Kerr that saw him brought down for the penalty. Though the foul occurred outside the box, because it was a black-card foul and a goalscoring chance, referee Sean Laverty pointed to the spot. Patrick Collum thought he had done enough to keep Kerr’s effort out but the umpires signalled a goal and the green flag was raised.

Down finished with a flourish as Ryan Johnston, Niall Kane and Eamon Brown added points confirmng Longford’s relegation to Division Four.

Down C Smyth; P Fegan, R McEvoy, F McElroy; M Rooney (0-2), P Laverty, C Fitzpatrick; P Havern (0-5, 0-2 frees), M Walsh; L Kerr (1-5, 1-0 pen, 0-4 frees), C McCrickard (0-1), R Johnston (0-2);

D McAleenan, M Ireland (0-1), J Johnston (0-1) Subs T Close for M Walsh (13), N Kane (0-1) for  C Smyth (HT), R Mason for C McCrickard (39), E Brown (0-1) for M Ireland (39), C Francis for J Johnston (53)

Longford P Collum; B O’Farrell, A Farrell, P Fox; I O’Sullivan, M Quinn (0-1), R Moffett; D Gallagher (0-1), J Macken (0-1); R Brady, D Mimnagh (0-1), J Hagan; O Kenny (0-1), D Reynolds (1-1), D Farrell (0-5, 0-3 frees) Subs A Farrell for R Brady (35+5), P Foy for B O’Farrell (46), K McGann (0-1) for O Kenny (46), D O’Brien (0-1) for D Reynolds (60), F Sheridan  (0-1) for J Macken (68)

Referee S Laverty (Antrim)