With three rounds, Tipp are joint second alongside Clare, both sides two points behind Kildare. Tipp travel to Longford next Sunday for a crucial clash and Kearns now believes anything is possible.
It was a profitable afternoon for inside forwards Michael Quinlivan and Conor Sweeney, who bagged 1-10 between them. Kearns said: “We played some good football in the first-half and got our scores. It was a slog in the second-half but we got the job done. In the circumstances, we’re very happy, now secure in Division 3. We’ll have a look at promotion now and see what we can do. We have to go to Longford next Sunday and win that. Will eight points be enough to get you up? I’d say we’d probably need another point from our last two matches then.”
With Quinlivan and Martin Dunne netting first-half goals, Tipp were 2-8 to 0-5 clear at half-time in a free-ridden encounter.
Defeat is a dent to Offaly’s promotion hopes. Boss Pat Flanagan said: “It’s the most disappointing performance since we came together. We had an awful lot of possession but the amount of ball we gave away absolutely crucified us.”
M Quinlivan 1-4 (0-1f, 0-1 45), C Sweeney 0-6 (3f), M Dunne 1-0, P Austin 0-1.
N Dunne 0-4 (3f), N McNamee & S Doyle (2f) 0-3 each, S Pender & B Allen (f) 0-1 each.
E Comerford; K Fahey, A Campbell, C McDonald; J Feehan, R Kiely, S Leahy; A Moloney, M Dunne; J Lonergan, P Acheson, B Fox; C Sweeney, M Quinlivan, P Austin.
D Leahy for Feehan (50), D Butler for S Leahy (58), B Hewitt for Austin (62), M Hanley for Fahey (65), J O’Callaghan for Lonergan (70+2).
A Mulhall; D Brady, E Rigney, S Pender; J Moloney, B Darby, J O’Connor; G Guilfoyle, C McNamee; A Sullivan, M Brazil, R Allen; N Dunne, S Doyle, N McNamee.
N Darby for Brady (h.t.), P Cunningham for Allen (h.t.), C Donoghue for Rigney (44), E Carroll for Brazil (53), B Allen for Doyle (61), J Gethings for C McNamee (61).
J Molloy (Galway).