UUJ’S relegation into Amateur League 1b was confirmed by Saturday’s four-goal defeat by already promoted Downpatrick at the Factory Grounds.
The Jordanstown side’s run of three league wins on the bounce had already come to an end, with a five goal defeat by the same opposition at Rosconnor just over a week earlier.
As UUJ manager Shane McCullough said afterwards: “We gave ourselves a chance, but the damage was done earlier in the season, starting with six straight league defeats.
“And then later on, we went on a bad run, losing to Barn, Rosario and Dundonald and only drawing with Orangefield. Four games we could have won and could have taken 9 or 10 points but instead we only got one, and it cost us. Not taking our chances when we’ve been on top in games has really hurt us.
“Downpatrick were just too good. They’re the best team we’ve come across this season. At their place, they knew how to play on their pitch. I thought we could get about them back at Nortel. They play high intensity, they don’t give you time to settle on the ball and even four up, they don’t take their foot off the gas, they keep coming at you.
“Saturday was always about the first goal. If we had got it, we could have shut up shop but we gave them a soft one early on, with two of our defenders going for the one ball, and were always up against it after that!”
Poor marking from a corner granted Downpatrick a second. There might have been some way back just after the break when Chris McDonald was foiled by the keeper – only for Down to race down the pitch and trigger a 25 yard rocket past the helpless Eamon Browne.
Another stirring strike saw Downpatrick add the icing on the cake.
It was perhaps unfortunate, too, that Downpatrick, while already promoted, are still pursing the points to clinch the 1a title.
So UUJ go down with 25 points, and Rathfriland still to play this Saturday.
UUJ: Browne – McKeown, Donnelly, Boyce, Devlin – D Magennis , (McDonald), Esler, Lyons, J Magennis – Scollay, Campbell (Kelly).