Down 1-16 1-8 Leitrim

Paul McComiskey, Daniel Beck and Benny Coulter
Benny Coulter (right) and Paul McComiskey battle with Daniel Beck

Down overcame an indifferent first half to ease to a comfortable win over understrength Leitrim in Saturday's All-Ireland Football qualifier.

Martin Clarke's penalty helped Down lead 1-3 to 0-1 but the Mournemen lost their way as Leitrim trailed only 0-6 to 1-5 by half-time at Newry.

Adrian Croal's goal then put Leitrim ahead but Benny Coulter brought up his tally to seven as Down took control.

All of man of the match Coulter's points came from play.

Down's only change from the side which endured a scare against Clare in Ennis was Conor Garvey's inclusion in the forwards in place of youngster Caolan Mooney.

Leitrim notched the opening score with Brian McDonnell on target but a Conor Laverty point and two Coulter efforts was then followed by Clarke's penalty.

The spot-kick was awarded as Leitrim defender John McKeown was adjudged to have made a foot block to stop a Laverty shot.

At that stage, Down looked in control but Leitrim hit five of the remaining seven first-half scores to trim the home team's lead to two by the break.

The Connacht county then took a shock lead straight after the restart as Croal rattled the net with the Down defence marked absent.

However, the goal only served to finally shake Down from their self-induced slumber.

Points from Coulter, Mark Poland and Clarke quickly restored Down's lead as Kevin McKernan's switch to an attack-minded sweeping role began to pay dividends for the Mournemen.

As Coulter brought up his tally to seven before being replaced late on, McKernan, Liam Doyle and Poland were also among the scorers as Down pulled clear.

Coulter acknowledged that Down had produced a "poor first half".

"We'll just have to work on it (in training) next week," said Coulter.

"(Down assistant manager) Brian McIver wasn't happy at half-time and had a go at a few of us.

"It happened last week (against Clare) as well. We got a goal and we stopped."

All-Ireland Football Qualifiers

Down 1-16 1-8 Leitrim

Antrim 1-13 2-9 Carlow

Limerick 3-13 0-15 Offaly

Longford 0-15 1-17 Tyrone

Armagh 0-19 2-13 Wicklow (aet)

Meath 0-11 0-10 Galway

Laois 0-10 3-16 Kildare

London 0-13 1-17 Waterford

All-Ireland Hurling Qualifiers

Cork 1-14 2-23 Galway

Antrim 0-12 3-22 Limerick

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