Down’s miserable season concluded with a 0-24 to 1-12 defeat by Cavan in the Tailteann Cup at Kingspan Breffni as Antrim lost 2-14 to 1-12 in Leitrim.
Ruairi O’Hare hit an immediate Down goal but Cavan responded with six straight points to take control.
Keeper Raymond Galligan kicked seven Cavan points as well as twice saving a Barry O’Hagan penalty.
Shane Moran’s goal helped Leitrim lead 1-9 to 0-4 at half-time in Carrick-on-Shannon and they stayed in control.
Jack Heslin’s goal five minutes after the break helped increase Leitrim’s lead to 2-12 to 1-7 and while Antrim hit 1-4 without reply, including a superb Peter Healy major, the home side were never in danger of being caught.
At Kingspan Breffni, Down’s goal was the first score of the game in the sixth minute as O’Hare finished off a flowing move started by a exchange of passes between Ryan Magill and Daniel Guinness.
But that was as good as it got for James McCartan’s Mournemen as they were unpicked by a Cavan side who didn’t need to summon up anything like the intensity they had produced against Donegal to run out comprehensive winners.
Down lose players for Tailteann campaign
Down started with nine of the team that had taken to the field for the 0-23 to 2-7 Ulster Championship defeat by Monaghan on 30 April.
Caolan Mooney and Kilcoo’s Ryan McEvoy were among the Mournemen who opted not to hang around for the Tailteann campaign and by the start of the second half, there were no personnel from this year’s All-Ireland Club champions on the pitch after keeper Niall Kane had been replaced by Rory Burns.
After the early shock of Down’s goal, Cavan were ahead by the 11th minute as Oisin Kiernan notched their fourth point and Galligan’s second successful placed ball put them three up by the 15th minute.
Odhran Murdock got Down scoring again with a fine score from play but the home side responded by hitting six of the next seven scores with Paddy Lynch notching a brace, Gearoid McKiernan exceeding that with three and that man Galligan also among their scorers during that period of total dominance.
Down were given a potential lifeline in first-half injury-time when Lynch conceded a penalty, and was black carded in the process, for hauling down Barry O’Hagan.
O’Hagan’s first effort was blocked by Galligan and when David Gough ordered the retake, the Cavan keeper diverted the Down man’s second shot on to the woodwork before the ball was cleared.
Trailing by seven at the break, Down were soon nine in arrears but while they responded with three in a row to cut the margin to six, that was as close as they got.
Galligan’s sensational free from near the left sideline – which started another Cavan scoring run – summed up a day when he just couldn’t miss from placed balls.
With Cavan inevitably losing their drive in the closing stages with the outcome long decided and Mickey Graham also making a series of substitutions, the Mournemen hit four of the last six scores, but the late rally didn’t mask another deeply disillusioning day for Down football as the county’s annus horribilis mercifully came to an end.
Leitrim put game to bed in first half
At a sun-kissed Carrick-on-Shannon, Saffrons forward Odhran Eastwood fired over the first point before the hosts seized control.
Keith Beirne split the posts three time as Leitrim moved in front, with their clinical finishing in contrast to Antrim’s wasteful attempts on target.
Moran flicked into the net from a high ball on 20 minutes to help the underdogs into a commanding 1-9 to 0-4 advantage at the break.
The second Leitrim goal arrived five minutes into the second half with Jack Heslin palming in after a surging run from Moran.
Leitrim were 2-12 to 0-7 ahead before Enda McGinley’s team finally sparked into life after what had been a dismal display.
Antrim hit 1-4 without including a blistering strike into the bottom corner from Peter Healy in the 57th minute
It left just four points between the teams but Leitrim held their nerve and to see out the game and Saffrons forward Pat Shivers, who scored four points in the second half, was sent-off for two yellow cards in the dying seconds.
It’s a fourth straight defeat for a struggling Antrim side and follows a heavy loss to Cavan in the Ulster SFC.