Down’s senior side suffered its heaviest defeat in recent seasons in Donegal last Saturday.

Title chasing Raphoe, who surprisingly dropped points in their last Senior One game when they drew 2-2 with Cliftonville, were out to send a message to their title rivals that there will be no more slip-ups.

But they were made to fight every step of the way and while the scoreline suggests an emphatic win, it doesn't tell the whole story.

Down headed north knowing they were in for a battle and many predicted it was always going to be case of how many current league leaders Raphoe would score.

Earlier in the season, Raphoe defeated Down 6-0 at Douglas Park in Newcastle with four of the goals coming in the opening 10 minutes, but things were different last weekend.

Down played well and Raphoe led by 2-0 at the break. Chris Taylor went close for the visitors, but the Down defence, marshalled superbly by skipper, Jeremy McCready, played really well.

Down 'keeper, Mark Johnston, made a number of routine saves in the first half and the home side was disappointed it had only scored twice during the opening 35 minutes.

The visitors came out firing on all cylinders at the start of the second period and controlled the game for 20 minutes, with Paul Tate and Taylor again going close before the Donegal outfit went 3-0 courtesy of a penalty stroke.

The turning point in the game came with 13 minutes to go. McCready had to leave the field with a leg injury after being struck by a Raphoe stick and Ashley Gibson was on the sideline having been yellow carded.

It was going to be backs-to-the-wall stuff for the visitors and so it proved to be.

Raphoe scored an incredible seven goals in eight minutes to hit double figures. Down will argue if they had had 11 men on the park things may have been different. Never before has a scoreline masked the performance of the beaten side.

Down will be hoping the passing ability and confidence they displayed against the league leaders will see them overcome bottom-of-the-table Cliftonville when the sides meet on January 12 in what is now a real six pointer.