Friday 23 February 2018

Tipp show vigour to see off dogged Antrim side


Jackie Cahill at Semple Stadium

TIPPERARY'S cover is now well and truly blown. The losers of today's Ulster final will tread carefully when they face the Premier County in round 4 of the All-Ireland qualifiers next weekend. Because Tipperary, under the astute guidance of Peter Creedon, are on a roll.

Yesterday they sent Antrim crashing out -- an Antrim side, as manager Liam Bradley admitted afterwards, that had travelled with confidence.

Tipp were worthy winners a week before against a Wexford side that had rattled Dublin in the Leinster semi-final. And they were at it again yesterday in front of 2,563 spectators, the vast majority of them from Antrim. And that's a damning indictment of Tipperary GAA fans, who surely don't need much more convincing about the capabilities of this team.

They're transformed under Creedon and yesterday Tipp scored a third championship victory in the same season for the first time since 1998. Just like the Wexford game, when this one was in the melting pot Tipp stepped forward and got the job done.

The sides were level three times in the second half before sub Brian Mulvihill popped over a lovely point with five minutes remaining to send Tipp 0-9 to 0-8 clear. Two minutes from time, 2011 All-Ireland minor medallist Michael Quinlivan was hauled down and from the resultant free, Alan Maloney tapped over. It was the sixth point of a productive afternoon for Maloney, restored to the starting line-up for yesterday's tie.

But there was still one heart-stopping moment to come as Michael McCann dragged a shot narrowly wide in the final minute as Antrim chased a winning goal. If they had grabbed it, Tipp would have rued a second-half tally of 11 wides.

But Antrim were equally profligate before half-time, notching up seven wides. And they needed a brace of James Loughrey scores late in the half to remain in touch, trailing by 0-4 to 0-6 at the break.

With Antrim sitting deep, scores were at a premium, but Tipp managed to break through the massed ranks to scorch 0-4 to 0-0 clear in the first 15 minutes -- Maloney on target with three points. Antrim's first score arrived courtesy of Tomás McCann in the 18th minute but they wouldn't register another until the 32nd minute.

Scorers -- Tipperary: A Maloney 0-6 (3f), G Hannigan, D Leahy, M Quinlivan (1f), B Mulvihill 0-1 each. Antrim: J Loughrey, T McCann (1 '45) 0-2 each, S McDonagh, M McCann, K Brady, M Magill 0-1 each.

Tipperary: P Fitzgerald; A Morrissey, P Codd, C McDonald; B Fox, R Kiely, A Campbell; G Hannigan, H Coghlan; R Ryan, A Maloney, D Leahy; M Quinlivan, P Acheson, P Austin. Subs: B Mulvihill for Ryan (h-t), C Sweeney for Austin (64).

Antrim: C Kerr; J Crozier, K O'Boyle, R Johnson; T Scullion, M Sweeney, A Healey; S McDonagh, M McCann; J Loughrey, K Brady, C Murray; K Niblock, M Johnson, T McCann. Subs: M Armstrong for Johnson (h-t), M Magill for Niblock (55), R Murray for C Murray (60), O Gallagher for T McCann (69)

Referee: E Kinsella (Laois)

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