NFL DIVSION 3 (ROUND 1)
Derry faded in the final furlong of Saturday's crucial clash in Páirc Esler, and with it went their went any control of their promotion hopes.
Rory Gallagher's side held control of the game with an more invigorated performance than the offering against Leitrim.
And it took them with sight of the finish line. With 61 minutes gone they led 0-11 to 0-10 and Down lost Conor Poland to the sin-bin for a high challenge on Padraig Cassidy.
Instead of going for the jugular, Derry retreated into their shell and allowed the home to side to inhale their second wind.
It was helped with Paddy Tally's greater return from the bench. Daniel Guinness scored with his first touch, Liam Kerr added a spark that had been missing before his introduction. And on occasions, Pat Havern and Sean Dornan leapt into the Newry sky to claim vital possession.
Derry goalkeeper Odhrán Lynch's kicking to the spaces out the flanks gave them a basis to build but when those avenues were later closed and when Down 'keeper Rory Burns kicked long into the middle, the Oakleafers lacked a ball winner to wrestle their supremacy back.
In the second-half, Derry had seven sides with some of them very scoreable and when Shane McGuigan appeared to lose his footing their only goal chance went a begging with the Slaughtneil man forced to take a point.
It was an improved performance from their possession squandering evening against Leitrim, but after two games and with just one point to their name, Derry face into home games with Tipperary and Louth in drastic need of a change of fortunes.
Padraig Cassidy, Niall Keenan, Alex Doherty, Shane McGuigan Shea Downey and Benny Heron were the six Derry changes from the Leitrim game.
Derry began with a score in the first minute, Chrissy McKaigue and Padraig Cassidy putting Shane McGuigan in for a wind-assisted score.
Jerome Johnson replied with a mark, before a controlled visiting team went into a 0-3 to 0-1 lead with points from Benny Heron and Shea Downey, on his league debut.
The Oakleafers kept their noses deservedly in front and a long-range McKaigue effort put them two in front later in the half.
Down replied courtesy three Donal O'Hare frees, two of which were of the soft variety, and Paddy Tally's men were in touch at half-time, 0-8 to 0-7.
Derry can also point to referee Padraig Hughes failing to play an advantage before the break when a move involving Ciaran McFaul and Padraig Cassidy was recalled for a free when there was a glimmer of a goal.
McGuigan stretched the gap to two points early in the second-half before points from Conor Poland and Donal O'Hare, from a free, levelled matters at 0-9 all.
Derry still looked composed in defence and their transition was much better but that's there it ended. Shane McGuigan (2), Liam McGoldrick (2), Ryan Bell, Emmett Bradley and Danny Tallon all hit wides during their period of control.
Down pegged themselves back on level terms (0-11 all) before a Barry O'Hagan mark gave the Mournemen an inspiring 67th minute lead, leaving Derry chasing the game for the first time.
A stray pass from 'Sammy' Bradley saw Down handed the initiative and Jerome Johnston fired over to give them a cushion that effectively won the game.
Derry will have another week of soul-searching ahead of the visit of Tipperary and Down will take their unbeaten run to Páirc Uí Chaoimh for a clash with Cork.
DOWN: Rory Burns; Brendan McArdle, Ryan McAleenan; Kevin McKernan; Darren O'Hagan, Gerard Collins, Shane Annett; Johnny Flynn, Conor Poland (0-1); Barry O'Hagan (0-2, 1m), Paul Devlin, Owen McCabe (0-1); Jerome Johnson (0-2, 1m); Donal O'Hare (0-6f), Cory Quinn (0-1).
SUBS: Liam Kerr for P Devlin (43), Pat Havern for C Quinn (48), Peter Fegan for R McAleenan (50), Daniel Guinness (0-1) for G Collins (55), Sean Dornan for J Johnston (72).
SIN-BIN: C Poland (61), B O'Hagan (73).
YELLOW CARDS: R McAleenan (31), C Quinn (40), O McCabe (58).
DERRY: Odhrán Lynch; Conor McCluskey, Brendan Rogers, Liam McGoldrick; Niall Keenan; Padraig McGrogan, Chrissy McKaigue (0-1), Shea Downey (0-1); Padraig Cassidy, Emmett Bradley, Ciaran McFaul; Danny Tallon, Benny Heron (0-1); Shane McGuigan (0-7, 4f), Alex Doherty (0-1).
SUBS: Niall Toner for B Heron (49), Ryan Bell for A Doherty (55), Conor Doherty for C McCluskey (56), Christopher Bradley (0-1) for N Keenan (67), Gavin O'Neill for S Downey (72).
YELLOW CARDS: S Downey (47), C McCluskey (55).
REF: Padraig Hughes (Armagh).
Full coverage, including reaction from Rory Gallagher and Paddy Tally as well as the photos from Newry, grab a copy of Tuesday's County Derry Post.
ALSO - Derry draw with Leitrim in league opener. Click here...
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