Fintan O’Toole reports from Semple Stadium
TIPPERARY’S PROMOTION CHALLENGE is still on track from Division 3 of the Allianz Football League after Conor Sweeney’s scoring spree propelled them to victory over Longford at Semple Stadium tonight.
The win lifts Tipperary to second place in the table behind Louth after this eight-point win in a fixture that was re-arranged after last Sunday’s postponement.
Tipperary got off to an explosive start with Sweeney and Jimmy Feehan both raising green flags as they went ahead 2-2 to 0-1 after six minutes.
They had extended that advantage to nine points during the first half but a Longford revival cut the gap to four at the interval, and it wasn’t until Sweeney palmed home his second goal in the 61st minute, that Liam Kearns side were assured of the spoils.
Sweeney’s return of 2-7 was pivotal to Tipperary’s win but the switch of Michael Quinlivan to midfield during the second half also proved crucial as he exerted a major influence in the closing stages.
Captain Brian Fox also impressed for Tipperary while Kevin O’Halloran and Philip Austin chipped in with important points.
Longford looked in serious trouble early on as they stared at a nine-point deficit in a stadium where they crashed to a 17-point loss in a qualifier game in 2014. To their credit, they didn’t collapse and allow a repeat hiding to occur.
Their captain Michael Quinn kicked three impressive first half points while forwards Robbie Smyth and Seanie McCormack were instrumental in enabling Longford to reel off six points on the bounce between the 26th and 36th minutes.
Tipperary were grateful for goalkeeper Evan Comerford smartly blocking Liam Connerton’s snap shot in the 14th minute. They had been ruthless early on as Sweeney was found in an acre of space by Feehan in the 3rd minute before he found the net and then the Killenaule struck for the second goal, charging through after being released by Josh Keane.
Tipperary were ahead 2-10 to 0-12 at the interval and Longford ensured at the start of the second half that the home team remained anxious.
A converted free by Smyth in the 53rd minute left only three point between them – 2-12 to 0-15 – but then Tipperary stepped it up and closed out the game.
Sweeney (2) and O’Halloran notched the points that afforded them vital breathing space before Sweeney’s goal – after a great team move involving Fox, Quinlivan and Robbie Kiely – settled the contest.
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Scorers for Tipperary: Conor Sweeney 2-7 (0-3f), Kevin O’Halloran 0-3 (0-2f), Jimmy Feehan 1-0, Philip Austin 0-2, Liam Casey, Josh Keane (0-1f), Brian Fox, Liam Boland 0-1 each.
Scorers for Longford: Robbie Smyth 0-7 (0-6f), Sean McCormack (0-2f), Michael Quinn 0-3 each, John Keegan, Diarmuid Masterson, Brian Farrell, Larry Moran, Ronan McEntire 0-1 each.
1. Evan Comerford (Kilsheelan-Kilcash)
2. Alan Campbell (Moyle Rovers)
3. Paddy Codd (Killenaule)
4. Wille Connors (Kiladangan)
of the team
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5. Emmet Moloney (Drom & Inch)
6. Robbie Kiely (Carbery Rangers, Cork)
7. Jimmy Feehan (Killenaule)
8. Liam Casey (Cahir)
18. George Hannigan (Shannon Rovers)
10. Josh Keane (Golden-Kilfeacle)
11. Kevin O’Halloran (Portroe)
12. Brian Fox (Éire Óg Annacarty-Donohill)
13. Conor Sweeney (Ballyporeen)
14. Michael Quinlivan (Clonmel Commercials)
15. Philip Austin (Borrisokane)
21. Liam Boland (Moyle Rovers) for Hannigan (46)
25. Shane O’Connell (Golden-Kilfeacle) for Connors (48)
17. Kevin Fahey (Clonmel Commercials) for Moloney (60)
22. Alan Moloney (Rockwell Rovers) for Casey (63)
20. Liam McGrath (Loughmore-Castleiney) for O’Halloran (66)
19. Joseph Hennessy (Loughmore-Castleiney) for Kiely (72)
1. Paddy Collum (Fr Manning Gaels)
5. Donal McElligott (St Columba’s)
2. Dermot Brady (Longford Slashers)
6. Padraig McCormack (Killoe Young Emmets)
4. Barry O’Farrell (Carrickedmond)
3. Barry Gilleran (Longford Slashers)
12. Barry McKeon (Colmcille)
8. Darren Gallagher (St Mary’s Granard)
9. John Keegan (St Columba’s)
11. James McGivney (St Columba’s)
10. Diarmuid Masterson (Dromard)
7. Michael Quinn (Killoe Young Emmets)
14. Liam Connerton (Rathcline)
15. Sean McCormack (Killoe Young Emmets)
13. Robbie Smyth (Abbeylara)
22. Andrew Farrell (Cashel) for McElligott (black card) (21)
20. Larry Moran (Killoe Young Emmets) for O’Farrell (26)
17. Brian Farrell (Mostrim) for McGivney (half-time)
23. Daniel Mimnagh (Killoe Young Emmets) for Masterson (51)
21. Ronan McEntire (Dromard) for Gallagher (57)
Referee: Martin McNally (Monaghan)
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