Louth will be playing in Division Three next season after yesterday’s 1-19 to 3-7 defeat to Donegal in Ballyshannon, coupled with Galway’s victory over Armagh, consigned them to relegation.
The game was practically over as a contest in the first-half with the home side leading by 0-13 to 1-1 at the break, with Louth’s goal being poked home by Shane Lennon a minute before the interval.
Further goals from Paddy Keenan and Brian White in the second half did briefly reduce deficit back to three but the 2012 All-Ireland champions never looked in trouble and barely had to get out of second gear as David Walsh’s late goal secured a comfortable win.
Donegal were totally dominant in the middle third in the first half with Christy Toye and Rory Kavanagh scoring four points between them before the break.
Louth lost two players to black cards and took their time to adjust. Full-back Dessie Finnegan was forced off in the fourth minute and full-forward Eoin O’Connor joined him in the 30th minute for hauling down Colm McFadden.
Dermot Molloy, playing on the forty, scored two points from play in the opening half with wing back Anthony Thompson also on the scoresheet as Donegal raced clear.
Louth midfielders Paddy Keenan and Brian Donnelly were much improved in the second half, as they looked to spearhead a revival from the Wee County.
Toye’s third point, a Michael Murphy free and a Colm McFadden point extended Donegal’s lead to 0-16 to 1-2 after 47 minutes.
Louth then enjoyed their best spell of the game, registering an unanswered 2-2 in the space of five minutes.
A brace of points from Brian White was followed by two goals in a minute from Keenan and White, who both drove straight through the middle of the Donegal defence to drill goals past netminder Paul Durcan.
With their cushion cut to three points, substitute David Walsh settled any Donegal nerves with a goal after 56 minutes.
A Lennon free and a point from Bevan Duffy did reduce the deficit to four points again, before Murphy scored his only point from play to complete a convincing win for Donegal, which virtually assures instant promotion for them back to the league’s top tier.
DONEGAL: P Durcan; E McGee, N McGee, K Lacey; Declan Walsh (0-1), L McLoone, A Thompson (0-1); R Kavanagh (0-2), C Toye (0-3); M McHugh, D Molloy (0-2), O McNelis; C McFadden (0-6, 0-3f), Michael Murphy (0-04, 0-3f), P McBrearty. Subs: R McHugh for Lacey (half-time), David Walsh (1-0) for McBrearty (55 mins), L Keaney for Thompson, G McFadden for Kavanagh (both 69).
LOUTH: N Gallagher; P Rath, D Finnegan, J O’Brien; G O’Hare, D Crilly, A Reid; P Keenan (1-0), B Donnelly; P Reilly, B White (1-3, 0-1f), S Campbell; A McDonnell, E O’Connor, S Lennon (1-03, 0-2f). Subs: D O’Hanlon for Finnegan (black card, 4 mins), C Judge for Campbell (21), B Duffy (0-1) for O’Connor (black card, 30), D Brown for Judge (32), D Clarke for Donnelly (63), L Shevlin for Reilly (65).
Referee: Martin Higgins (Fermanagh).