Sunday 20 August 2017

Quinlivan keeps Tipp on course for promotion

Tipperary 2-11 Offaly 0-12

Tipperary's Alan Campbell in action against Offaly's Joey O'Connor during their Allianz NFL Division 3 clash in Tipperary town Photo: Matt Browne / SPORTSFILE
Tipperary's Alan Campbell in action against Offaly's Joey O'Connor during their Allianz NFL Division 3 clash in Tipperary town Photo: Matt Browne / SPORTSFILE
Offaly's Conor McEamee in action against Tipperary's Jason Lonergan Photo: Matt Browne / SPORTSFILE
Tipperary's Jimmy Feehan tries to evade the approaching Joey O'Connor of Offaly Photo: Matt Browne / SPORTSFILE

Jackie Cahill

Tipperary manager Liam Kearns has promotion in his sights following yesterday's impressive victory over Offaly at Sean Treacy Park.

With three rounds of fixtures remaining, Tipp are joint second in the Division 3 standings alongside Clare, with both sides two points behind pacesetters Kildare.

Tipp travel to Longford next Sunday for a crucial clash and Kearns now believes that anything is possible after the Premier County collected a second win from four outings, to remain unbeaten - they also have two draws.

It was a profitable afternoon for inside forwards Michael Quinlivan and Conor Sweeney, who bagged 1-10 between them against a disappointing Offaly side.

"We played some good football in the first half and got our scores. It was a slog in the second half but we got the job done and that's the most important thing," said Kearns.

"In the circumstances, we're very happy, now secure in Division 3. We'll have a look at promotion now and see what we can do. We have to go to Longford next Sunday and win that.

Free-ridden

"Will eight points will be enough to get you up? I'd say we'd probably need another point from our last two matches then."

With Quinlivan and Martin Dunne netting first half goals, Tipp were 2-8 to 0-5 clear at half-time in a free-ridden encounter, while Brian Fox also struck an effort off outside of the post and wide.

Defeat is a dent to Offaly's promotion hopes and boss Pat Flanagan reflected: "To be truthful about it, it's the most disappointing performance since we came together.

"We had an awful lot of possession but the amount of ball we gave away absolutely crucified us.

"We're not giving up on it by any means. It was always going to be tough to come down here. The disappointing thing for us is that we didn't perform to anywhere near the levels that we can.

"The boys never gave up but our quality wasn't what it should have been and we suffered for it."

Tipp were content to sit back in the second half and protect their interval lead, as Fox provided extra cover.

The damage was done in that opening half as Kearns and his players recognised that Offaly were playing without a sweeper from the start, and capitalised.

Offaly did lead by 0-2 to 0-1 early on but Quinlivan's goal in the 11th minute opened the floodgates.

As Offaly went 17 minutes without a score, Tipp took advantage to build a match-winning lead, 2-5 to 0-2.

Dunne's goal, in the 21st minute, was well finished after Sweeney turned provider but Offaly will wonder how the midfielder was allowed so much time and space to run a straight line through their defence and find the net.

Offaly did briefly rally approaching half-time but Tipp had the hard work done and the second half petered out to an inevitable conclusion.

Afterwards, Kearns batted away questions about possible returns for dual players Seamus Kennedy and Steven O'Brien, who were not part of the 26-man hurling squad yesterday.

Scorers - Tipperary: M Quinlivan 1-4 (0-1f, 0-1 '45'), C Sweeney 0-6 (3fs), M Dunne 1-0, P Austin 0-1. Offaly: N Dunne 0-4 (3fs), N McNamee, S Doyle (2fs) 0-3 each, S Pender, B Allen (f) 0-1 each.

Tipperary - E Comerford 7; K Fahey 7, A Campbell 8, C McDonald 8; J Feehan 8, R Kiely 7, S Leahy 7; A Moloney 7, M Dunne 7; J Lonergan 7, P Acheson 8, B Fox 8; C Sweeney 8, M Quinlivan 8, P Austin 7. Subs: D Leahy 6 for Feehan (50), D Butler 5 for S Leahy (58), B Hewitt 5 for Austin (62), M Hanley NR for Fahey (65), J O'Callaghan NR for Lonergan (70+2).

Offaly - A Mulhall 6; D Brady 5, E Rigney 4, S Pender 6; J Moloney 6, B Darby 7, J O'Connor 6; G Guilfoyle 7, C McNamee 6; A Sullivan 6, M Brazil 5, R Allen 4; N Dunne 6, S Doyle 7, N McNamee 7. Subs: N Darby 6 for Brady (h.t.), P Cunningham 6 for Allen (h.t.), C Donoghue 6 for Rigney (44), E Carroll 6 for Brazil (53), B Allen 6 for Doyle (61), J Gethings 6 for C McNamee (61).

Ref - J Molloy (Galway)

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