Liam Kearns’ makeshift side travelled north to Newry on Saturday to fulfill a fixture that was meaningless for Tipp but vital for Down, and while the Mourne county duly won their first home league game of the season, it wasn’t enough to prevent relegation to Division Three.
“There was a strange atmosphere,” said Tipp goalscorer Quinlivan. “I don’t think anybody wanted to play it but needs must. We consolidated our Division Two status which is what we wanted and did it comfortably enough in the end.Making another jump might have been a step too soon.”
Mourne goalkeeping coach Neil Collins says a failure to convert scoring chances all spring is why they’ll be playing in Division Three next season for the first time since 2009.
A goal from Sean Dornan after 14 seconds gave Down a dream start and they led by more than 1-7 to 0-6 at half-time, with Caolan Mooney and Donal O’Hare on top form. With Louth also beating Meath in Drogheda at that stage, Down had a chance to salvage another last day escape - but the Royals’ second-half comeback meant Down’s win couldn’t save them.
Tipp were pretty disinterested throughout but did have a good third quarter and even took the lead at one stage with Quinlivan tapping home a scrappy goal in the 48th minute. Donal O’Hare slotted home a penalty after 55 minutes to see Down home, while Tipp skipper Robbie Kiely was sent off for two yellow cards late on.
Donal O’Hare 1-2 (pen, 2f), Sean Dornan 1-1, Caolan Mooney 0-3, Conor Maginn 0-2, Peter Turley 0-1, Anthony Doherty 0-1 (‘45’), Ryan Johnston 0-1.
Michael Quinlivan 1-1, Jack Kennedy 0-3 (2f), Conor Sweeney 0-3 (1f), Kevin O’Halloran 0-2 (1f), Kevin Fahey 0-1, Josh Keane 0-1 (f).
S Harrison; C Flanagan, B McArdle, A Doherty; D McKibbin, N McParland, C Mooney; P Turley, N Donnelly; K McKernan, C Maginn, S Millar; A Morgan, D O’Hare, S Dornan.
R Johnston for Maginn (54), D O’Hanlon for Maginn (55), C Harrison for Dornan (57), C Poland for Donnelly (63).
C Kenrick; C O’Shaughnessy, P Codd, E Moloney; Luke Boland, R Kiely, K Fahey; G Hannigan, J Kennedy; J Keane, S Murray, B Fox; K O’Halloran, M Quinlivan, Liam Boland.
C Sweeney for Murray (HT), S O’Brien for Hannigan (HT), S Carey for Keane (50), J Feehan for Luke Boland (55), D McGrath for Moloney (55), I Fahey for Carey (63).
Barry Cassidy (Derry)