Down made a strong start to their 2013 campaign with McKenna Cup group victories over Cavan and neighbouring county Armagh. Queens University withdrew from the competition over a row regarding player availability and the fixture was simply written off. Down progressed into the latter stages of the McKenna Cup but fell sort of a place in the final at the hands of Monaghan.
Down looked deserving relegation favourites in the National Football League Division 1, as they lost their first 3 games, two of which were at home. Down looked close to beating Cork at home but fell to a very late goal. A comeback looked on the cards as Down went out and beat Mayo at Páirc Esler, however defeats to Kerry and Dublin sealed Down's fate and relegation was a certainty despite an impressive 3–13 to 1-12 hammering of Kildare in Newry.
Having got to the 2012 Ulster final, Down started their Cup run away to Derry at Celtic Park. In what was regarded as one of the games of the summer, Down came out victors having been 5 points down at half time. The semi final paired last year's finalists again in what would be a closely fought affair. Donegal maintained a 2-point lead throughout the match and eventually won 12 points to 9.
Down entered the 2013 All-Ireland Senior Football Championship in the round 2 qualifier stage. The draw for the second round took place on Monday 1 July 2013 and once again had Down travelling to Celtic Park, Derry. Down produced a poor display in this repeat fixture as they failed to score from open play in the entire second half and lost the game by 5 points.