Tipperary 0-18 Down 1-14
Resurgent Tipperary sealed a glorious league campaign with triumph in the Division Three final, but they needed extra-time to get the better of Down.
In front of just a few hundred supporters at Pearse Park in Longford, two fiercely committed sides laid on a thriller which saw them go level no less than 12 times.
In the end, John Evans’ side displayed greater stamina and staying power to battle right to the bitter end and deny their courageous opponents, with John Carey fisting the winner in the last minute of added time.
Tipp started smartly with a string of points from James Tierney, Barry Grogan and Brian Mulvihill, but Down struck for a quality goal through Ronan Murtagh in the ninth minute.
Centre back Peter Turley delivered from deep, Cathal Magee fielded superbly and laid off to Murtagh, who applied a cool finish past Paul Fitzgerald.
Down, with Dan Gordon making an unexpected but welcome start and winning some valuable possession in midfield, pressed forward in waves of attack, but on several occasions their finishing let them down.
And it was Gordon who swept over a classy point to end a frustrating period for Ross Carr’s men and regain the lead on 23 minutes.
Tipp spurned a golden opportunity when Grogan blasted a penalty over the bar in the 25th minute, but regained the lead through Brian Coen.
The best move of the half saw Coen fire over another, when he could have had a goal, but late scores from the busy Ronan Murtagh and Aidan Carr sent the sides in at the break level at 1-4 to 0-7.
Scores were traded in an evenly contested third quarter, with Cathal Magee bringing the sides level for the sixth time with a well-worked point.
Coen’s third score came gift-wrapped, courtesy of some reckless Down defending, while Mulvihill’s second of the evening was a delightful effort.
Tipp were beginning to play with confidence and style, and points from substitute Damien O’Brien and Tierney eased them two clear as the game slipped into its final quarter.
Their support play was a delight to watch, typified by wing back Christopher Aylward’s overlap point, and a flagging Down side badly needed a lift.
They did raise their game for Gordon, Daniel Hughes and John Boyle to bring the sides level yet again.
Grogan, by his standards having a quiet game, clipped the lead point between the posts with five to play, but Hughes sent the game to extra-time with the sides locked on 1-10 to 0-13.
Down full back Conor Garvey edged his side ahead by 1-13 to 0-15 midway through extra-time, but Carey emerged as the late, late hero.
Down scorers: R Murtagh 1-1, A Carr 0-5 (4f),D Gordon, D Hughes, 0-2 each, B McArdle, J Boyle, C Magee, C Garvey 0-1 each.
Tipperary scorers: B Grogan 0-5 (4f, 1pen), B Coen 0-4, J Tierney 0-3, 2f), B Mulvihill 0-2, C Aylward, D O’Brien, J Cagney, S Carey 0-1 each
Down: M McAllister, C McGovern, C Garvey (0-1), L Howard, A Carr (0-5, 4f), P Turley, D Rooney, D Gordon (0-2), S Kearney, B McArdle (0-1), J Boyle (0-1), R Murtagh (1-1), C Magee (0-1), D Hughes (0-2), R Sexton.
Subs: J Ireland for McArdle (h-t), D Rafferty for Turley (yellow card, 40), M Cole for Rafferty (yellow card, 53) K Duffin for Boyle (60),
Tipperary: P Fitzgerald, C Morrissey, C McDonald, A Morrissey, B Fox, H Coghlan, C Aylward (0-1), G Hannigan, B Jones, S Carey (0-1), N Fitzgerald, B Mulvihill (0-2), J Tierney (0-3,2f), B Coen (0-4), B Grogan (0-5 4f, 1pen).
Subs: R Costigan for Morrisey (h-t), D O’Brien (0-1) for Fitzgerald (40), C Higgins for C Morrissey, J Cagney (0-1) for Mulvihill (60), K Mulryan for Jones (60), I Barnes for Coen (66), Coen for Barnes (71), E Hanrahan for Aylward (88)
Referee: C Reilly (Meath)