In the end Donegal were well beaten by a resurgent Down side, with 24 points between the sides in the quarter-final match – the curtain-raiser for the footballers of Monaghan and Tyrone.
Down’s 1-31 to 0-10 win was fully deserved.
But for the first 15 minutes or so, Donegal had held their own despite missing Danny Cullen and Enda McDermott, the latter to a one match ban and the former to a nasty cruciate ligament injury.
Ciaran Mathewson had hit five points by that stage to keep Donegal just two points behind the Mourne men (0-08 to 0-06) but he also missed a penalty and it was Down who kicked on, Ryan Brannigan finding the net and giving them a 12 point half-time lead (1-16 to 0-07).
Even the best optimist’s hopes of a comeback were soon destroyed as Down’s Scott Nicholson and Johnny McCusker ran riot in the second half, pointing 13 times between them as Donegal managed just three more points in the game.