Tipperary get the bit between their teeth

Tipperary 3-19 Louth 0-19: Conor Sweeney remembered it, that sick feeling in the pit of his stomach when Louth came to Semple Stadium and clinched promotion, on a day when Tipperary were meant to get the job done.
Tipperary get the bit between their teeth

He recalled the understandable whooping and hollering when Louth’s players, management and fans gathered in a tight pocket on the New Stand side of Semple Stadium and celebrated their achievement.

Sweeney couldn’t blame them, but it didn’t make it any easier to take.

Almost a fortnight on, Tipp’s revenge mission saw them turn what was a four-point defeat on that occasion into a nine-point win, in the Allianz Football League Division 3 decider.

Against the odds, as per usual, Tipp went to Armagh and got promoted, before finishing the campaign with silverware.

“If you hadn’t the bit between your teeth Saturday, I don’t know when you’d have,” said Sweeney, scorer of 2-5.

“That fair hurt us two weeks ago, to see them celebrating at the final whistle, that feeling in your stomach was absolutely sickening.

“Especially then because nobody would give you a shout going up to Armagh. The view was ‘ah Jaysus, your chance is gone.’

“Yeah, it was tough and there was an extra bit of incentive there because we knew we under-performed in that second half, the first day against Louth. That was the most disappointing thing, we didn’t play and we knew we could beat them if we performed well. Thankfully we did.”

Tipp’s display brought back memories of last year’s All-Ireland quarter-final, when they bounced into Croke Park and floored Connacht champions Galway.

Bigger crowd then, just 5,823 present at GAA HQ on Saturday and that was difficult to fathom when you consider how pleasant the weather conditions were.

Louth’s job was already done, they’ll have felt, but after lifting Division 4 silverware to cap off last year’s campaign, they’ll have been disappointed not to get their hands on another trophy.

Their manager, Colin Kelly, disagreed with Sweeney’s suggestion that Tipp had extra motivation from the group fixture. He smiled: “Today, they were just better. I don’t think fellas like Michael Quinlivan and Conor Sweeney and these guys need motivation, they’re top quality operators, Liam Kearns is a good operator. They know what they have inside the dressing room. If you’re looking for motivation to win games at this stage, it’s not going to happen. What they have is a lot of quality.”

Tipp bared their claws to hit 1-5 without reply in a five- minute spell before half-time, turning the game on its head after they trailed 0-4 to 0-7.

The goal, on the half hour, was scored by midfielder Liam Casey, his drive cracked past Craig Lynch after Sweeney spotted his run in behind the Louth cover. That effort helped Tipp lead 1-11 to 0-9 at half-time but with the breeze at their backs for the second half, Louth made a fist of it until they were architects of their own downfall in the 47th minute, Bevan Duffy turned over and Sweeney striking for goal.

The Ballyporeen forward completed his brace in the eighth minute of stoppage time, Louth caught on the breakaway as Sweeney held his nerve to collect Liam McGrath’s pass in space before finishing well.

After the game, Tipp boss Kearns was asked about the prospect of 2016 captain Peter Acheson doing a ‘Johnny Glynn’ on it, after it emerged at the weekend that the Galway hurler will commute from New York for county training.

Kearns smiled and dismissed the notion. “I don’t think Peter will be coming back this time unfortunately. I don’t think that’s a runner, and I don’t think Peter believes it and I don’t either so I think we’re on the same wavelength as regards that.”

Scorers for Tipperary:

C Sweeney (2-5, 3f), L Casey (1-1), K O’Halloran (2f) and M Quinlivan (2f) (0-3 each), J Kennedy (0-2), A Campbell, R Kiely, J Keane, L Boland, L McGrath (0-1).

Scorers for Louth:

R Burns (0-5, 4f), T Durnin, D Byrne (free), J McEneaney (3f) (0-3 each), P Smith (0-2), D Maguire, A McDonnell & E O’Connor (0-1 each).

TIPPERARY:

E Comerford; A Campbell, P Codd, W Connors; R Kiely, S O’Connell, B Maher; L Casey, J Kennedy; J Keane, K O’Halloran, B Fox; C Sweeney, M Quinlivan, E Moloney.

Subs:

G Hannigan for Moloney (52), L Boland for O’Halloran (61), C O’Shaughnessy for Connors (64), A Moloney for Kennedy (66), L McGrath for Keane (70+1), J Hennessy for Quinlivan (70+6).

LOUTH:

C Lynch; P Rath, P Reilly, A Williams; D Maguire, J Bingham, J Stewart; T Durnin, A McDonnell; D Byrne, P Smith, B Duffy; A Reid, E O’Connor, R Burns.

Subs:

K Murphy for Reilly (h.t.), R Moore for Reid (45), J McEneaney for O’Connor (48), G McSorley for Burns (57), C McKeever for Durnin (64), J Califf for Byrne (70).

Referee:

A O’Connor (Wicklow).

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