Conor Sweeney was Tipperary’s star turn as they moved second in Division 3 of the Allianz Football League, writes Jackie Cahill.
Sweeney bagged 2-7 to floor Longford at Semple Stadium – as the Premier County took a big step forward in the promotion race.
That’s now three wins from four League outings this year for Tipp – who are two points behind pace-setters Louth.
Tipp led by 2-10 to 0-12 at the break, a four-point lead but it could have been better for the hosts, who led by nine on three separate occasions.
The hosts got off to a whirlwind start, Josh Keane landing a free before Sweeney, all alone and in oceans of space, was left one-on-one with Paddy Collum and duly converted the opening goal of the game in the third minute.
Three minutes later, Tipp were in again and Longford were punished for more slack defending as Jimmy Feehan pounced for the home side’s second goal.
Michael Quinn, operating in the half-forward line for Longford, was a beacon of hope for the visitors, who gradually worked their way back into contention as the half wore on.
But in the 22nd minute, Tipp were nine points clear, 2-9 to 0-6, before Longford reeled off six unanswered points to boost their challenge.
Tipp closed out the half with a point from Liam Casey, but were facing into a battle after the interval.
So it proved as Longford provided dogged opposition and were within three points of Tipp on as many occasions.
That was before Tipp pulled away with a run of 1-4 without reply, Sweeney palming home from close range eight minutes from time to reward the approach play of Michael Quinlivan and Robbie Kiely.
Tipp’s next outing sees them away to Offaly next weekend, before last year’s beaten All-Ireland semi-finalists welcome Louth on March 26, a game that could prove pivotal in the promotion shake-up.
Scorers for Tipperary: C Sweeney 2-7 (0-3f), J Feehan 1-0, K O’Halloran 0-3 (2f), P Austin 0-2, L Casey, J Keane (f), B Fox, M Quinlivan (f)& L Boland 0-1 each.
Scorers for Longford: R Smyth 0-7 (6f), M Quinn & S McCormack (2f) 0-3 each, J Keegan, D Masterson, L Moran, R McEntire & B Farrell 0-1 each.
Tipperary – E Comerford; A Campbell, P Codd, W Connors; E Moloney, R Kiely, J Feehan; L Casey, G Hannigan; J Keane, K O’Halloran, B Fox; C Sweeney, M Quinlivan, P Austin.
Subs: L Boland for Hannigan (46), S O’Connell for Connors (49), K Fahey for Moloney (60), A Moloney for Casey (64), L McGrath for O’Halloran (66), J Hennessy for Kiely (70+3).
Longford – P Collum; D McGelligott, D Brady, P McCormack; B O’Farrell, B Gilleran, B McKeon; D Gallagher, J Keegan; J McGivney, D Masterson, M Quinn; L Connerton, S McCormack, R Smyth.
Subs: A Farrell for McGelligott (b/c 21), L Moran for O’Farrell (26), B Farrell for McGivney (h.t.), D Mimnagh for Masterson (51), R McEntire for Gallagher (57).
Referee – M McNally (Monaghan)