Sweeney shines as Tipp move into second
Tipperary 3-17 Longford 0-18
Conor Sweeney collected 2-7 as Tipperary moved into second place in Division 3 of the Allianz Football League.
The Ballyporeen man, an All-Star nominee last year, was in red-hot form as the Premier County saw off Longford at Semple Stadium, to make it three wins from four league outings.
Tipp are now two points behind pace-setters Louth in the race for promotion - and sit second on their own. Tipp led by 2-10 to 0-12 at the break, but it could have been better for the hosts, who led by nine on three separate occasions.
The hosts got off to a whirlwind start, Josh Keane landing a free before Sweeney, all alone and in oceans of space, was left one-on-one with Paddy Collum and duly converted the opening goal of the game in the third minute.
Three minutes later, Tipp were in again and Longford were punished for more slack defending as Jimmy Feehan pounced for the home side's second goal.
Michael Quinn, operating in the half-forward line for Longford, was a beacon of hope for the visitors, who gradually worked their way back into contention as the half wore on.
But in the 22nd minute, Tipp were nine points clear, 2-9 to 0-6, before Longford reeled off six unanswered points to boost their challenge.
Tipp closed out the half with a point from Liam Casey, but were facing into a battle after the interval.
So it proved as Longford provided dogged opposition and were within three points of Tipp on as many occasions.
That was before Tipp pulled away with a run of 1-4 without reply, Sweeney palming home from close range eight minutes from time to reward the approach play of Michael Quinlivan and Robbie Kiely.
Tipp's next outing sees them away to Offaly next weekend, before last year's beaten All-Ireland semi-finalists welcome Louth on March 26, a game that could prove pivotal in the promotion race.
Scorers - Tipperary: C Sweeney 2-7 (0-3f), J Feehan 1-0, K O'Halloran 0-3 (2f), P Austin 0-2, L Casey, J Keane (f), B Fox, M Quinlivan (f) & L Boland 0-1 each. Longford: R Smyth 0-7 (6f), M Quinn & S McCormack (2f) 0-3 each, J Keegan, D Masterson, L Moran, R McEntire & B Farrell 0-1 each.
Tipperary: E Comerford; A Campbell, P Codd, W Connors; E Moloney, R Kiely, J Feehan; L Casey, G Hannigan; J Keane, K O'Halloran, B Fox; C Sweeney, M Quinlivan, P Austin. Subs: L Boland for Hannigan (46), S O'Connell for Connors (49), K Fahey for Moloney (60), A Moloney for Casey (64), L McGrath for O'Halloran (66), J Hennessy for Kiely (70+3).
Longford: P Collum; D McGelligott, D Brady, P McCormack; B O'Farrell, B Gilleran, B McKeon; D Gallagher, J Keegan; J McGivney, D Masterson, M Quinn; L Connerton, S McCormack, R Smyth. Subs: A Farrell for McGelligott (b/c 21), L Moran for O'Farrell (26), B Farrell for McGivney (h-t), D Mimnagh for Masterson (51), R McEntire for Gallagher (57).
Referee: M McNally (Monaghan).
Sunday Indo Sport