A well-taken Carlow goal 23 minutes from Craig Doyle was negated three minutes later by a fine strike from Daniel Toner for Down. Carlow led 1-5 to 1-2 at that stage and went on to shoot four unanswered points before the break from Andrew Gaule, Marty Kavanagh (two frees) and Craig Doyle.
Although Down full-forward Paul Braniff scored four early second half points from frees, Carlow remained in control and a long-range goal from a free by Shane Kavanagh on 53 minutes killed off the Down challenge, 2-11 to 1-6.
A fine goal from Marty Kavanagh on the hour was just reward for a fine personal performance – the St Mullins clubman top-scored for Carlow with 1-6.
Down’s misery was complete when Paul Smyth was sent off for a second yellow card late in the game.
Scorers for Carlow: M Kavanagh 1-6, 0-4f, C Doyle 1-3, S Kavanagh 1-1f, A Gaule, J Kane, D Roberts 0-2 each, P Kehoe 0-1f.
Scorers for Down: P Braniff 0-4f, D Toner 1-1, D Hughes 0-1.
CARLOW: F Foley; A Corcoran, E Nolan, D Shaw; J Corcoran, S Kavanagh, J Rogers; R Coady, J Kavanagh; A Gaule, J Kane, P Kehoe; M Kavanagh, C Doyle, D Roberts.
Subs: R Smithers for Gaule (55); E Coady for Rogers (58); A McDonald for M Kavanagh (61); K McCabe for Roberts (65).
Down: D Kearns; M Hughes, C Teague, P Smyth; M Cunningham, C Woods, M Ennis; L Morgan, E Clarke; D Hughes, K McGarry, C Baillie; D Toner, P Braniff, A Savage.
Subs: B Toner for Cunningham (46); P Keith for Morgan (48); C Mageean for D Hughes (55); P Sheehan for D Toner (66); A O’Prey for M Hughes (68).
Referee: S Cleere (Kilkenny).