Football League Division Two: Mournemen end long losing run by beating Meath
Down ended a run of 14 straight defeats in competitive games stretching back to April 2015 as they earned a 1-13 to 0-14 win over Meath in Division Two of the Football League.
Joe Murphy's scrambled early goal was the ideal start for Down and they led 1-8 to 0-6 at half-time.
With Caolan Mooney starring, the Mournemen extended their advantage to six midway through the second half.
Meath reduced Down's lead but they home side held on after a nervous finish.
Down went into the game propping up Division Two after disappointing opening defeats by Fermanagh and Clare.
County secretary Sean Og McAteer felt compelled to release a length statement on Thursday night denying reports of unrest within Eamonn Burns' squad and Saturday's win will be a huge boost for the management.
Mournemen show grit to overcome Royals
After hammering Derry at Navan two weeks ago, Meath were favourites heading into the Pairc Esler contest but the Mournemen produced a performance of grit and determination to chisel out the vital Division Two victory.
Murphy's goal, as he flicked a mishit Darragh O'Hanlon free past Paddy O'Rourke, was the perfect start for the home side as they were never headed in the contest.
With midfielder Peter Turley putting himself about and former under-age star Mooney producing his best game in the Down senior jersey, the home side pushed on from leading only 1-1 to 0-3 to move five ahead by the interval.
O'Hanlon slotted three first-half frees while the impressive Conor Maginn, Barry O'Hagan (two), Ryan Johnston and Aidan Carr also got on the scoresheet for Down in the opening period.
Fresh from his Sigerson Cup heroics with St Mary's, Kevin McKernan also excelled in the opening period for the Mournement as Meath laboured, with free-taker Donal Lenihan hitting three of their points.
A McKernan point extended Down's lead to 1-11 to 0-8 by the 52nd minute after a great block at the other end by Carr had prevented Brian Menton for netting a Meath goal.
After their struggles in recent times, it was not a surprise to see Down attempting to hold on to their lead in the closing stages and Meath, helped by the introduction of the speedy Eamonn Wallace, reduced the margin to three by the time the game entered injury time.
Inevitably, there was a late scare for Down as Lenihan aimed for goal from his last-gasp 13-metre free and the ball skimmed off the crossbar over for a point before the final whistle was blown seconds later.
ALLIANZ FOOTBALL LEAGUE FIXTURES/RESULTS
Mayo 1-19 0-14 Roscommon
Down 1-13 0-14 Meath
Laois 1-10 1-16 Tipperary
Carlow 1-10 0-10 Limerick, Dr Cullen Park
SUNDAY - 14:00 GMT unless stated
Donegal v Dublin, Ballybofey
Kerry v Monaghan, Killarney
Tyrone v Cavan, Healy Park, 14:30
Cork v Fermanagh, Pairc Ui Rinn, 13:00
Derry v Kildare, Celtic Park
Galway v Clare, Salthill
Antrim v Sligo, Corrigan Park
Longford v Armagh, Pearse Park
Offaly v Louth, Tullamore
Wicklow v London, Aughrim, 13:00
Wexford v Waterford, Wexford Park, 13:00
Westmeath v Leitrim, Mullingar