Down’s bid to stay in Senior One is over.

A heavy defeat against Armagh last Friday night at the Comber Leisure Centre has all but sealed their fate. The locals now need a miracle of gargantuan proportion to avoid the dreaded drop.

Not for the first time this season Down took the lead, but three minutes of madness in the second period, when the visitors scored three goals, ended any hope they had of taking anything from what was a must-win game.

Simon McCafferty should have given Armagh the lead in the first minute but fired wide and then Down 'keeper Mark Johnston denied Stuart Kirkland five minutes later. The misses proved costly as Down took the lead in the seventh minute when Mark Elliott taped home after a great build-up involving Chris Lennon and Paul Tate.

Armagh 'keeper, Ryan O'Neill, denied Elliott five minutes later before Johnston blocked a David Warnock shot at the other end. A Lennon mistake in the 22nd minute was punished when McCafferty scored to make it 1-1.

Down roared back and O'Neill produced an incredible stick save to deny Tate a certain goal in the 23rd minute before Sinclair White gave the home side the lead in the 27th minute, with the strike the first of his three on the night. But Warnock scored to make it 2-2 just before the break following an error by home skipper, Jeremy McCready.

Down knew they had to raise their game a little in the second period and realised an early goal could provide the launch pad for a much-needed win. But it was wishful thinking.

Those three minutes of madness cost Down dear with Armagh scoring in the 39th, 40th and 41st minutes. Ainsley McRoberts made it 3-2 to Armagh before Gregory Croft made it 4-2 after Alasdair Duff lost possession. Kirkland then scored to make it 5-2.

Chris Taylor almost gave Down a lifeline in the 48th minute but couldn't control Chris Ferguson's cross. Johnston produced a brilliant double save in the 51st minute and when Chris Ferguson found Tate, O'Neill produced another great save.

Down were awarded a penalty stroke in the 52nd minute after White's short corner strike was stopped on the line. Up stepped Taylor but the less said about his effort, which barely reached the 'keeper, the better.

White scored his second of the night to make it 5-3 but Kirkland and Davidson converted at the other end to leave Armagh 7-3 ahead before White completed his hat-trick with three minutes to go.