Sweeney fires impressive Tipperary to Division 3 final win over Louth
Tipperary 3-19 Louth 0-19
Conor Sweeney proved himself one of the most lethal inside forwards in the country when firing a goal in each half as Tipperary swept to a comprehensive Division 3 final win over Louth in Croke Park this evening.
The Ballyporeen clubman showed his array of attacking skills when firing 2-5 (three frees) as Liam Kearns' side ensured their promotion to the league's second tier would be sealed on a winning note against a battling Louth side.
Louth had the better of their group encounter last month, but the Premier County, last year's All-Ireland SFC semi-finalists, showed all their class with a nine-point win. Colin Kelly's Louth lost little in defeat, however, and will be dangerous come summer time with an exciting young side growing in confidence.
Louth started like a house on fire with three attacks yielding three points from play via Andy McDonnell, Declan Byrne and Pauric Smith, while Tipp were off target on three occasions and struggled to deal with the strong-running counter-attacking style of the Wee county.
Sweeney got them oft the mark with a 10th minute free before Liam Casey added a fine point and All-Star attacker Michael Quinlivan was unlucky to see his drop-kick go the wrong side of the post when creating a goal chance from nothing.
Ryan Burns (free) and Tommy Durnin, after good work from Anthony Williams, both pointed before Quinlivan (free) and Smith traded scores to leave Colin Kelly's side three points ahead, 0-6 to 0-3.
That was as good as it got for them, however, as the Premier slipped into top gear with Kevin O'Halloran (two frees), Sweeney and Jack Kennedy drawing them level before Sweeney sent over another fine effort and then set up Casey, who blasted past Craig Lynch to the Louth net, 1-9 to 0-7.
Burns got a much-needed Louth score from a placed ball before Sweeney and Derek Maguire traded scores but it was Quinlivan who finished the first-half scoring with an injury-time point to maintain their first-half turnaround, 1-11 to 0-9.
Louth again started the better on the resumption with Burns (two), Durnin and Byrne closing the gap to two but it was a case of deja vu as Tipp surged clear again through Kennedy, Quinlivan (free) and O'Halloran.
Durnin then responded with another point from the middle of the park but Sweeney was on hand to finish after Bevan Duffy was dispossessed following O'Halloran's blocked effort, 2-15 to 0-14.
Louth kept battling and had the gap closed to four, 2-16 to 0-18, with injury time approaching, but subs Liam McGrath, All-Ireland minor-winning captain in 2011, and Liam Boland, restored normal order before Sweeney put the cherry on the Premier cake when left free in front of goal in the dying seconds.
SCORERS – Tipperary: C Sweeney 2-5 (3f), J Kennedy 1-1, M Quinlivan (2f) and K O'Halloran (2f) 0-3 each, J Kennedy 0-2, A Campbell, R Kiely, J Keane, L Boland and L McGrath 0-1 each.
Louth: R Burns 0-5 (4f), T Durnin, J McEneaney (3f) and D Byrne (1f) 0-3 each, P Smith 0-2, D Maguire 0-1, E O'Connor, A McDonnell 0-1 each.
TIPPERARY – E Comerford; A Campbell, P Codd, W Connors; B Maher, R Kiely, S O'Connell; L Casey, J Kennedy; J Keane, K O'Halloran, B Fox; C Sweeney, M Quinlivan, E Moloney. Subs: G Hannigan for Moloney (52), L Boland for O'Halloran (61), C O'Shaughnessy for Connors (64), A Moloney for Kennedy (67), L McGrath for Keane (71), J Hennessy for Quinlivan inj (76).
LOUTH – C Lynch; A Williams, P Reilly, P Rath; J Bingham, J Stewart, D Maguire; T Durnin, A McDonnell; D Byrne, P Smith, B Duffy; A Reid, E O'Connor, R Burns. Subs: K Murphy for Reilly (half-time), R Moore for Reid (45), J McEneaney for O'Connor (48), G McSorley for Burns (57), C McKeever for Durnin (64), J Califf for Byrne (70)
REF – A Nolan (Wicklow)