Down pulled away to earn what was, ultimately, a comfortable victory over neighbours Antrim at Corrigan Park as Conor Laverty's men made it three wins from three in Division 3 of the Allianz Football League.

The nine-point margin was about right but it came thanks to a strong finish after Down had been off-colour in front of the posts despite being the better team for the vast majority of this game in front of a packed house.

Pat Havern led the way with six points and Ceilum Doherty's late 1-01 put a gloss on the board, but they won't be happy with a dozen wides.

What they will be content with is a strong defensive showing that gave Antrim little to work with as they closed down space and attacked with good pace, laying down a marker for when the sides meet again in the Ulster SFC.

Down were in command for most of the opening half and early on they made the most of it with the first three points - Pat Havern pointed frees either side of their first from play by James Guinness.

Antrim were struggling to get anything going at the other end but out of nowhere they were level on 11 minutes as Marc Jordan kept an Eoin Hynds shot in that was tailing out, popped to Paddy McAleer who buried his chance.

Down could and should have responded in kind seconds later when Caolan Mooney found himself one-on-one following an error, but goalkeeper Michael Byrne diverted his soccer-style shot out for a 45 that John O'Hare converted.

The wides were stacking up for Down - seven in total for the first half - but they were back to three in front before an Antrim rally late in the half saw Joseph Finnegan and Dominic McEnhill on the board.

Havern would kick his fourth of the opening half to give the visitors a 0-07 to 1-02 lead at the interval.

Havern extended the gap after the break, but Antrim began to enjoy a productive spell with a pair of McEnhill frees and another from Byrne to level.

The Antrim goalkeeper had to make a smart stop almost immediately from Odhran Murdock, while Daniel Guinness was off-target with a snapshot, but Down had upped the stakes with the next three scores through Murdock, Havern and Oisin Savage.

Byrne pulled one back, but it would be Antrim's last score as Down pulled away in the final 10 minutes as Savage, James Guinness and Danny Magill pointed before Doherty's late salvo, the goal coming as he stabbed home the rebound after his initial shot was blocked with Down rounding off a good day to maintain their 100% record.

Antrim: Michael Byrne (0-02f); Ronan Boyle, Eunan Walsh, Kavan Keenan; Marc Jordan, Joseph Finnegan (0-01), Dermot McAleese; Colm McLarnon, Paddy McAleer (1-00); Eoin Hynds, Niall Burns, Ruairí McCann (Creggan); Patrick McBride, Cormac McGettigan, Dominic McEnhill (0-03, 2f).

Subs: Benen Kelly for C McGettigan (HT), Ryan McQuillan for N Burns (54), Declan Lynch for D McAleese (59), Pat Shivers for C McLarnon (63), Oisin Doherty for E Hynds (68)

Down: John O'Hare (0-01, 45); Ryan McEvoy, Peter Fegan, Ceilum Doherty (1-01); Niall McParland, Miceal Rooney, Pierce Laverty; Odhran Murdock (0-01), Pat Havern (0-06, 4f); Daniel Guinness, Conor Francis, Caolan Mooney; Shane Annett, James Guinness (0-02), Liam Kerr (0-01)

Subs: Jonny Ryan for N McParland (5), Oisin Savage (0-02) for J Flynn (33), Danny Magill (0-01) for S Annett (42), Ryan Magill for C Francis (50), Anthony Doherty for J Guinness (63)

Referee: Enda McFeely (Donegal)