Armagh 1-15 Tipperary 2-8
Tipperary’s heroic bid to avoid relegation ended in failure, but they gave their supporters something to shout about at Crossmaglen, where they came from 12 points behind to draw level with Armagh.
The promotion-cashing Orchard men recovered in the closing stages, however, and sealed the fate of John Evans’ side, who, after winning promotion in successive seasons, go back down to Division Three.
Barry Grogan stunned the home supporters with two second-half goals to spark a sensational comeback, but in the end, the Munster men were unable to sustain their frenetic level of performance to the end.
Philip Austin almost got in for a goal in the early stages, but was denied by Paul Hearty’s smart save.
Soon, Armagh had assumed control in most sectors, and the accuracy of Steven McDonnell from placed balls saw them ease ahead.
They failed to score from play, however, until the 23rd minute, when midfielder James Lavery landed a long-range point.
That score made it 0-4 to 0-0, McDonnell having stroked over three frees.
Aaron Kernan also converted a couple of frees, and thumped over an excellent point from play, and McDonnell made it 0-9 to no score, before Barry Grogan claimed Tipp’s only first-half score from a stoppage time free.
But that was the signal for a big Armagh response. Kernan and Malachy Mackin combined to send Gareth Swift to finish low to the net from close range for a 1-9 to 0-1 interval lead.
Stefan Forker stretched the lead to 12, but suddenly it all started to go wrong for Armagh, as an inspired Tipp side seized control.
Hugh Coghlan, George Hannigan and Kevin Mulryan helped them win primary possession around the midfield, and they swept forward in waves of attack.
Armagh goalkeeper Hearty will have nightmares about the 45th minute goal he conceded by coming to collect the ball on the 20 metre line, and fumbling to allow Grogan to finish to the empty net.
Grogan and substitute Timmy Dalton tagged on points, and it was another sub, Brian Fox, who slipped the ball to Grogan for his second goal on 59 minutes, drawing the sides level on 1-11 to 2-8.
Armagh finally managed to turn the game around to finish with points from Kernan, McDonnell and substitutes Kevin Dyas and Joe Feeney to win in less-than-convincing fashion.
Armagh: P Hearty, A Mallon (0-1), B Donaghy, P Duffy, M Ferris, P Kernan, F Moriarity, J Lavery (0-1), K Toner, M Mackin, A Kernan (0-4, 3f), G Swift (1-0), B Mallon, S McDonnell (0-6, 6f), S Forker (0-1.
Subs: T Kernan for Forker, R Henderson for B Mallon, K Dyas (0-1) for P Kernan, J Feeney (0-1, 1f) for Mackin.
Tipperary: M O’Donnell, C Morrissey, N Curran, P Codd, C Aylward (0-1), R Costigan, D Bourke, G Hannigan, A Rockett, J Cagney, P Austin, H Coghlan, J Tierney, B Coen (0-1), B Grogan (2-4, 0-2 f).
Subs: B Fox for Bourke, T Dalton (0-2, 2f) for Tierney, B Mulvihill for Coen, K Mulryan for Rockett, B Jones for Austin.
Referee: M Higgins (Fermanagh)