Down ended their Division 3 league campaign on a high with a very impressive second half against Offaly in Glenisk O'Connor Park on Sunday.
The visitors excelled against the breeze, outscoring their hosts after the resumption 1-08 to 0-01 for a convincing win.
While promotion was just out of reach for the winners, they went about their business in a very professional manner. As things worked out, Fermanagh's win over Cavan would have denied Offaly the leap to Division 2 regardless of the result.
However, promotion was very much on the cards for them at half time as they trailed by just three points at the interval. Still coming to terms with the shockingly sudden death of their manager, Liam Kearns, however, Offaly completely ran out of steam in the second half.
The Morne men had first use of the breeze in the opening 35 minutes and an open, entertaining affair emerged. It was real end to end stuff, though both sides held onto the ball well and Down deserved their 0-9 to 0-6 interval lead.
Both sides had goal chances. Dylan Hyland had a shot blocked for Offaly after seconds while Bernard Allen blasted over the bar for them on the stroke of half time with the goal gaping.
At the other end, Ian Duffy made a super 20th minute save to deny Liam Kerr and Down threatened to break though on another couple of occasions.
They were very evenly matched in the opening 22 minutes and this is reflected by the fact that they were level on five occasions. Then Pat Havern and Ryan Johnston got Down points to open up a two point gap for the first time. Ryan Johnston an Eugene Branagan put Down four clear before that late Allen point left three in it at the break.
It set the scene for a big second half showdown but it didn't emerge as Down grabbed control all over the field. The visitors still held that three point lead, 0-10 to 0-7 after 44 minutes but Offaly were struggling to break the line and create chances.
A very good 44th minute goal from Liam Kerr put Down 1-10 to 0-7 ahead and ended the game as a contest. With their Kilcoo contingent really standing up to be counted, Down went on a rampage that yielded six points without reply and a 1-16 to 0-7 lead after 61 minutes.
Ian Duffy enied Rory Mason a score before Jack Bryant ended Offaly's long drought. It all petered out very harmlessly from here as Down ran in all their subs and won with a surprising degree of comfort.
Down: Niall Kane (0-1,f); Peter Fegan, Ryan McEvoy (0-1), Pierce Laverty; Ryan Johnston (0-2), Niall McParland, Gerard Collins; Anthony Doherty, Conor Fitzpatrick; Miceal Rooney (0-1), Eugene Branagan (0-3), Danny Magill (0-2); Liam Kerr (1-0), Pat Havern (0-2), Rory Mason (0-2, 1f).
Subs: Donagh McAleenan for Kerr (49m), Conor McRickard (0-3) for Havern (53m), Antony Morgan (0-1) for Fitzpatrick (57m), Conor Francis for Johnston (58m), Owen McCabe for McParland (65m).
Offaly: Ian Duffy; Ciaran Donnelly, Declan Hogan, David Dempsey; Lee Pearson, Peter Cunningham, Rory Egan; Jack McEvoy, Conor McNamee; Cian Donohoe (0-1), Ruari McNamee, Anton Sullivan (0-1); Bernard Allen (0-2), Nigel Dunne (0-3, 3f), Dylan Hyland.
Subs: Jack Bryant (0-1) for Dunne (47m), Jamie Evans for Donohoe (47m), Joe Maher for Ruari McNamee (53m), Bill Carroll for Hyland (53m), Cian Farrell (0-1, f) for Sullivan (59m),
Referee: Seamus Mulhare (Laois).