Down progressed to the next round of the qualifiers with an emphatic 1-11 to 0-07 victory over Fermanagh but at a considerable cost.

In a rather unsavoury game, played in front of a crowd of over twelve thousand, on a perfect surface at Pairc Esler, Down finished with twelve men as opposed to Fermanagh's thirteen but Dan Gordan's straight red dismissal may prove to be a bridge too far for the Mourne men.

His midfield catching was simply superb where he was partnered by man of the match Alan Molloy and it was Down's supremacy here that provided them with a match winning platform. 

While it has to be said that some indeed many of the sendings off were warranted, it has to be said that referee, Mick Mc Grath's eagerness to tick for trivial offences early on, went some way to contributing to the shambles that this game became. 

With Down on top at midfield, they isolated Benny Coulter up front as an illusive target man and while Barry Owens did pull off some marvellous catches, overall, Coulter won this duel and finished the half with four points, three of which were from play. 

As it was, Down deservedly led eight points to four at the break having played the more incisive football from deep positions but they had also been reduced to fourteen men when championship debutant, Paul Murphy, received his second yellow card after twenty one minutes for off-the-ball holding fouls. 

Fermanagh dropped their extra man, Shane Mc Cabe, in front of Coulter on the restart and it certainly stemmed the flow to Coulter, while up front, Colum Bradley looked very sharp for the Lake County.

Midway through the half however, Fermanagh's Ryan Mc Cluskey and Down's Dan Gordan were sidelined for separate incidents before Down sealed victory with an excellent Ronan Sexton goal.

In a foul ridden, niggly second half, there were only seven scores in all, three points for Fermanagh and 1-3 for Down.

Close to the final whistle, Liam Doyle and Steven Maguire who had only come on, minutes earlier, were sent off, again in separate incidents. Indeed it has to be added that Fermanagh's Barry Owens was lucky not to merit the ultimate sanction.

Down: M Mc Veigh, M Cole (0-01), A Scullion, D Mc Cartan, P Murphy (0-01), A O'Prey (0-01), D Rafferty, A Molloy, D Gordan (0-01), C Laverty, A Rodgers, D Hughes, L Doyle (0-02), B Coulter (0-04), S Ward (0-01)

Subs: A Rice for D Mc Cartan, R Murtagh for C Laverty, R Sexton (1-00) for S Ward and J Doran for A Scullion

Fermanagh: C Breen, M Lily, B Owens, R Mc Cluskey, R Johnston, S Mc Dermott, S Mc Cabe, M Mc Grath, M Murphy, T Brewster (0-02), J Sherry, M Little, E Maguire (0-01), R Gallagher (0-01), C Bradley (0-02)

Subs: D Kelly (0-01) for M Lily, J Mc Gurn for M Murphy, S Maguire for R Gallagher, R Gallagher for T Brewster and N Bogue for M Mc Grath