Friday 24 March 2017

Tipp record biggest qualifier success in steamrolling of Louth

TIPPERARY 3-21 LOUTH 0-7

Declan Byrne, Louth, in action against Liam Casey, Tipperary.
Declan Byrne, Louth, in action against Liam Casey, Tipperary.
Declan Byrne, Louth, in action against Liam Casey, Tipperary.

Damian Lawor

Such has been the rate of Tipperary football's development that they now fully expect to beat teams like Louth.

But they surely didn't conceive that they would prevail so easily yesterday afternoon, romping to a 23-point win in Thurles to record their most comprehensive ever victory in the qualifier system.

Louth, who gave Westmeath plenty of trouble early on in their Leinster clash, were just so poor. They managed only one point in the second half - from Ryan Burns - in the 67th minute. Before that, their last score had come in the 25th minute.

The early exchanges had seen them show some glimpses of light with the fine shooting of their stylish half-back Declan Byrne most impressive. But their defence was breached all too easily, too often by the home side at Semple Stadium.

The road was so smooth that they had 10 different scorers and switched from defence to attack with ease. The diagonal ball into their full-forward line worked well, but they found many avenues forward as the game unfolded.

The contest was as good as over by the break with Tipp leading 2-10 to 0-6. A soft goal after half-time negated those concerns and completely killed off the Wee County.

The visitors lacked intensity and Tipp pierced holes in their defence quite easily. In addition they were well able to shoot from far out as well as evidenced by some fine scores from Robbie Kiely and Peter Acheson.

Two goals from Ger Mulhair, a late call-up to the side, and one from the penalty spot by Conor Sweeney after Tommy Durning made a foot block on him edged the Tipp side further ahead in a half that was pretty one-sided from start to finish.

Tipp fielded Jimmy Feehan, Ian Fahey, Colin O'Riordan, Liam Casey and Kevin O'Halloran - all graduates from the under 21 side that lost the All-Ireland final to Tyrone recently. That's a fair step up for so many of that side. They had a couple more on the bench too.

Next time around they will have to lift their intensity levels and take the pressure off the younger members of the squad because they will not have it so easy.

Two points from Quinlivan and Liam Casey after the restart enhanced the lead but a mistake from Craig Lynch seven minutes in left Louth with their heads hanging even further. Colin O'Riordan aimed for a point for distance, the Louth 'keeper was unfortunate enough to mishandle and the ball spilled into the net to leave it 3-13 to 0-6.

That ended the game as a spectacle and the remainder of this affair was played out at a listless pace.

While they were wholly impressive at Thurles, this game will be of little use to the Premier County as they gear up for another next game weekend.

As good as they were they would be foolish to read too much into this win.

Scorers - Tipperary: K O'Halloran 0-7 (6f), C Sweeney 1-2 (1-0 pen, 0-1f), C O'Riordan 1-1, G Mulhair 1-0, P Acheson, P Austin, M Quinlivan 0-2 each, B Grogan, L Casey, S Kennedy, J Lonergan, B Fox 0-1 each. Louth: R Burns (1f), D Byrne 0-2 each, R Holdcroft, P Smith, C Judge (1f) 0-1 each.

Tipperary: E Comerford, C McDonald, P Codd, J Feehan, S Kennedy, P Acheson, A Campbell, C O'Rioran, R Kiely, G Mulhair, B Fox, C Sweeney, L Casey, K O'Halloran, M Quinlivan, P Austin. Subs: B Fox for G Mulhair (43), C O'Shaughnessy for S Kennedy (45) J Lonergan for L Casey (45), B Grogan for P Austin (52), A Morrissey for P Acheson (60), B Mulvihill for R Kiely (61)

Louth: C Lynch, P Rath, D Finnegan, A Williams, D Byrne, D O'Hanlon, A Reid, T Durnin, J Califf, B Duffy, P Smith, C McKeever, R Burns, C Judge, R Holdcroft. Subs: E O'Connor for C McKeever (30), C Grimes for C Judge (32), E Lafferty for D O'Hanlon (h/t), J McEneany for J Califf (43), D Maguire for R Holdcroft (46), D McComish for E Lafferty (black card (55)

Referee: R Hickey (Clare)

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