Gaelic GamesDivision Three round-up

Ryan McEvoy’s late point earns Down a precious point against Westmeath

Division Three: Promotion battle will go down to the final round of games after draw in Mullingar

The race for promotion from Division Three will go down to the final round of games after Ryan McEvoy secured a dramatic draw for Down in Mullingar on Sunday.

A home win for Westmeath would have secured their return to Division Two with a game to spare and they led by one with 68 minutes played.

But defender McEvoy’s excellent score after a surging solo run up the middle ultimately left it at stalemate, 1-10 to 0-13.

Both managers acknowledged afterwards that a draw was the correct result.

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After a dour first half, which Down edged by 0-4 to 0-3, the game sprung into life with a 43rd minute Daniel Guinness goal that left last season’s Tailteann Cup finalists four points clear.

With five wins from five beforehand, and the highest scoring rate in the division, Conor Laverty’s side didn’t kick on as expected though and were outscored by 0-9 to 0-4 over the next 25 minutes.

Robbie Forde had a strong game for Westmeath and finished with four points and a three-in-a-row of Lake County points from Luke Loughlin and Forde between the 64th and 68th minutes put Des Dolan’s side in a winning position.

They didn’t score again though in a game that stretched to 74 minutes with Down’s McEvoy levelling it for the third time in the half.

The final few minutes were terrifically entertaining but also error-strewn as both sides chased a winner. When referee James Molloy eventually blew for full-time, a couple of players were wrestling on the ground behind him, just about summing up the frenzied finale.

What it all means is that Down and Westmeath remain tied at the top, on 11 points, with Clare a point behind. Down, crucially, will host Clare next weekend in the final round, while Westmeath will travel to play fourth-placed Sligo.

“At times I thought it was gone away from us so a draw maybe was a fair result,” said Westmeath manager Dolan.

Down boss Laverty was frustrated with his side’s first-half lethargy.

“You don’t want to know what my thoughts were or what I said at half-time,” assured Laverty. “I just felt we were very lacklustre. We didn’t have that edge that we’d showed over the last number of weeks. We started the second half very well. We were a wee bit more clinical. Then once we got in front we seemed to sit off again and that’s not what we’re trying to do.”

Clare’s 0-15 to 0-12 win over 14-man Antrim on Saturday has kept them in the promotion picture. They led by six at half-time and held off a second-half Antrim rally to win, thanks in part to Mark McInerney’s 0-4 haul. Sligo and Offaly shared the spoils, drawing 0-13 to 1-10.

Oisín McConville and Wicklow still have a chance of staying up after their 0-9 to 0-8 win over Limerick, which relegated the Shannonsiders to Division Four.

Wicklow, second from bottom with two points, will travel to Corrigan Park to play Antrim in the final round knowing that a win could keep them up.

WESTMEATH: J Daly; J Dolan (0-1), D Scahill, K Maguire; S McCartan, D Lynch, N Harte; A McCormack, R Connellan (0-1); R O’Toole (0-1), J Lynam (0-1), C Dillon; L Loughlin (0-3, 0-2f), K Martin (0-1), D McCartan.

Subs: R Forde (0-4, 0-2f) for McCartan (5 mins), M Whittaker (0-1) for Lynam (h-t), E Mulvihill for Dillon (50), S Smith for Martin (64), S Allen for Harte (69).

DOWN: J O’Hare; M Rooney, P Laverty, R McEvoy (0-1); D Magill (0-1), P Fegan, D Guinness (1-0); P Havern (0-4, 0-3f), O Murdock (0-1); N McParland, J Guinness (0-1), C Doherty (0-1); L Kerr, R Johnston (0-1), C Mooney.

Subs: A Gilmore for Mooney (42 mins), S Annett for J Guinness (46), C Francis for D Magill (58), R Mason for Johnston (69).

Referee: J Molloy (Galway).