Pacesetters Louth are two points clear of Tipp, who have a point to spare on chasers Armagh and Sligo.
There’s a visible split between the top four and the bottom four in a competitive pool, with Longford, Antrim, Laois and Offaly now locked in a relegation scrap, all on two points each.
Tipp moved into second on Saturday, their efforts acknowledged by an ever-increasing attendance ahead of the hurling clash with Kilkenny.
Conor Sweeney accounted 2-7 for Tipp in this rearranged fixture and while Longford manager Denis Connerton was outraged when the game was postponed eight days ago, he had no excuses here.
Connerton said: “I don’t blame anything - the only thing we can do is look at ourselves.”
Tipp were nine points clear within as many minutes, goals from Sweeney and Jimmy Feehan exposing alarming gaps in the Longford defence.
By half-time, Longford were back to within four (0-12 to 2-10) but they could never get closer than three points in the second half.
Sweeney’s second goal, with eight minutes left, banished any lingering doubt, and Tipp head to Offaly next weekend in good form.
Kearns reflected: “We performed well and I would be happy with our attacking play. We kicked 3-17 and that’s good scoring, but we conceded 18 points so we would not be happy with that aspect of it.”
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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).
M McNally (Monaghan)