Down banish qualifier hoodoo
DOWN smashed the qualifier jinx to book their place in the All-Ireland SFC quarter-finals yesterday. The Mournemen recovered from an Ulster final mauling at the hands of Donegal six days previous to see off dogged Tipp resistance.
But they needed a late surge to get the job done as closing points from Mark Poland and man of the match Ambrose Rodgers made the game safe.
Tipp had come from seven points down in the second half to trail by just three in the closing stages before Down added the insurance scores.
And boss James McCartan will have been pleased with the attitude of his players as they dug deep to advance to the last eight.
They had good support too in a crowd of 3,620, although many of those onlookers were left puzzled by some of match referee Cormac Reilly's decisions.
Tipp looked dead and buried in the second half as Down led by 1-11 to 0-7 but responded with a run of four unanswered points, including three from corner-forward Alan Maloney.
Down were in trouble but Poland's point settled their nerves before Rodgers bombed forward from midfield for his fourth point of the game, to send them five clear.
The pre-match favourites dominated midfield while Conor Laverty dropped deep to help orchestrate attacks from the middle third.
With 23 minutes on the watch, Down led by 0-5 to 0-0 and were motoring well, with Dan Gordon plucking a couple of early Tipperary frees on his own goal-line.
Tipperary finally got off the mark with their opening score in the 24th minute, when Michael Quinlivan tapped over a close-range free.
But Down were close to an opening goal when the impressive Poland's palmed effort flicked off the top of the crossbar and over seven minutes before the break.
Approaching half-time, Tipp were back to within two points of the Mourne men, trailing by 0-4 to 0-6, before Down struck for a crucial goal.
Kevin Duffin's long ball struck an upright and bounced back into the square, with Laverty almost converting the rebound before Benny Coulter pounced from close range.
That score handed Down a five-point interval lead and was a real sucker punch for Tipp, who had been in a good position ahead and preparing for the second half with wind advantage.
Ultimately, Coulter's strike would prove the difference between the two sides.
Scorers -- Down: B Coulter 1-2, M Poland (1f), A Rogers 0-4 each (1f), D Gordon, B McArdle, K Duffin (f) 0-1 each. Tipperary: M Quinlivan (2f), A Maloney (1f) 0-3 each, P Austin 0-2, B Fox, P Acheson, B Mulvihill 0-1 each.
Down: B McVeigh; N McParland, D Gordon, D O'Hagan; A Carr, C Garvey, B McArdle; A Rogers, K King; C Maginn, M Poland, K Duffin; E McCartan, B Coulter, C Laverty. Subs: K McKernan for Carr (48), L Doyle for McParland (52), D O'Hare for McCartan (55), A Brannigan for Duffin (60).
Tipperary: P Fitzgerald; A Morrissey, P Codd, C McDonald; A Campbell, R Kiely, B Fox; G Hannigan, H Coghlan; R Ryan, P Austin, D Leahy; A Maloney, P Acheson, M Quinlivan. Subs: B O'Brien for Ryan (h-t), B Mulvihill for Austin (54), R Costigan for Hannigan (55), M Dunne for Coghlan (61), J O'Callaghan for Kiely (62).
Referee: C Reilly (Meath)
Sunday Indo Sport