Down seconds travelled to Donegal with just nine men but turned in a heroic performance to come home with a point.

And if skipper Johnny Lennon's late penalty corner strike had gone in instead of crashing against the post, the locals would have won at the Royal and Prior School for the first time in many years.

Cry-offs and late withdrawals forced the locals to set off on the long trek to the Republic with just nine players, but they were heroes to a man and played with passion and commitment.

Colin Gibson was outstanding in the middle of the park, while goalkeeper, Johnny Briggs, kept his side in the game with a string of top drawer saves.

Down took the lead in the opening minutes through debutant James Cunningham, but Raphoe, sweeping the ball about with confidence on the synthetic surface, made the most of the two-man advantage and clawed their way back into the game.

They were leading 2-1 in the second half before Cecil Telford popped up to score a dramatic equaliser and silence the home crowd.

With time running out, Down were awarded a penalty corner and skipper Lennon moved up for the set-piece from his defensive role.

He stopped Gibson's push out and crashed one of his trademark shots towards goal. Unfortunately for the defender, the ball crashed against the post and rebounded to safety.

Down introduced James Cunningham for his debut in Donegal and he turned in an impressive performance and will be a valuable asset to the side over the coming weeks and months.

The experienced Telford, Gibson and Willie Price were on top of their game and the seconds go into this Saturday's clash at home to Kilkeel thirds brimming with confidence.