Football League Division 2 Final: Roscommon beat 14-man Down

Roscommon's Conor Daly is challenged by Down's Paul Devlin in the Division 2 Football League final
Roscommon were convincing winners over the Mourne County at Croke Park

Roscommon demonstrated their continuing progress as they beat 14-man Down 1-17 to 0-15 in the Division 2 Football League Final at Croke Park.

Down can point to Brendan McArdle's extremely harsh sending off late in the first half with Roscommon using the spare man superbly in the second half.

The sides were level at 0-7 apiece at half-time but Roscommon took over with full-forward Senan Kilbride impressive.

Kieran Murtagh's goal with 11 minutes left put Roscommon seven clear.

The Down defence never got to grips with Kilbride's aerial prowess and physical presence.

Kilbride was involved in McArdle's baffling second yellow card with the referee giving the Down defender his marching orders even though contact with the full-forward had appeared minimal.

Man of the match Kilbride acknowledged afterwards that he had "made the most" of McArdle's challenge after being given a "little tug".

Down were forced to live off scraps in terms of possession for the most part and struggled to get their runners Caolan Mooney and Kevin McKernan on the ball.

The Mourne county's prospects weren't helped before the start as playmaker Mark Poland was ruled out after picking up an eye injury in the warm-up.

Down's Kevin McKernan tries to burst away from Roscommon's Kevin Higgins at Croke Park
Down struggled to get runners such as Kevin McKernan on the ball at Croke Park

Conor Laverty did notch the opening score for Down only for two Cian Connolly points to help the Connacht county move into a 0-3 to 0-1 lead.

Down did get on terms helped by a McArdle point but the Mourne county's goal led a charmed life midway through the half as Roscommon missed a series of scoring chances including a glorious goal opportunity flashed wide by Cathal Cregg.

McArdle's 28th-minute dismissal seemed to briefly rally Down as fine points from Mooney and Donal O'Hare edged them 0-7 to 0-6 ahead before Donie Smith levelled before the interval.

As the match finally began to exhibit some fluency, Roscommon hit four unanswered points in the six minutes after the interval only for Down to reply with three of their own.

Down continued to battle to stay in the match and when Roscommon defender David Murray's black card offence was punished by a Donal O'Hare free on 52 minutes, there was still only a point into at 0-13 to 0-12.

However, Roscommon then began to make their numerical advantage count as Cian Connolly's fourth point was followed by further scores from subs Diarmuid Murtagh and Donie Shine.

The game was definitely up for Down 11 minutes from time as Kieran Murtagh lashed emphatically to the net after the Mourne defence had failed to deal with another high ball into Kilbride.

In itself, the defeat has no major relevance to Down given that Division 1 football had already been achieved but the struggles in defence and midfield do possibly sound a few alarm bells ahead of the summer.

Meanwhile Dublin coasted to a third straight Division 1 title as they earned a comprehensive 1-21 to 2-7 victory over Cork.

Dean Rock hit 10 points for the Dubs as a Diarmuid Connolly goal just before the break helped them lead 1-15 to 0-5 after 50 minutes.

Cork's late goals by Mark Collins and Daniel Goulding were scant consolation for the well beaten Rebels.