Down rue early defeats as Tipp victory is too little, too late
Down 2-11 Tipperary 1-11
Poor home form and a lack of ruthlessness up front had led Down to a place where they weren't in control of their own destiny, and despite beating a makeshift Tipp side on Saturday, Meath's win over Louth relegated them for the second time in three years.
Losing to Cavan the previous weekend meant this was a meaningless fixture for Tipperary, and they travelled north lacking in interest and minus a raft of regular starters.
"We got our noses in front at one stage but we never really looked like winning the game," admitted manager Liam Kearns afterwards.
"It was hard to get the players up for a match that didn't mean anything so it was a pretty ordinary game."
After losing Division 1 status in 2016, Down staged a last-day revival in Cork last year with an injury-time free keeping them up with just five league points. This year they finished with six, and still went down.
"That's the sad thing about it, but we weren't ruthless enough when we needed to be," said Mourne goalkeeping coach Neil Collins.
"It was a decent performance today, but obviously the damage was done earlier on, in the Clare game in particular, or we wouldn't be in the position we're in now.
"Fifteen wides against Clare, and five goal chances against Cavan. That's what cost us at the end of the day."
Sean Dornan's goal after 14 seconds gave Down a dream start.
They deserved to lead by more than 1-7 to 0-6 at half-time, with Caolan Mooney and Donal O'Hare causing Tipp lots of problems.
With Louth also beating Meath in Drogheda at that stage, the door was slightly ajar for Down, but once news of the Royals' second-half comeback started to spread, it sucked the life out of the Down crowd and the team.
The introduction of Conor Sweeney and Steven O'Brien led to a good third quarter for Tipp and the visitors briefly took the lead when Michael Quinlivan hit the net on 48 minutes.
Tipp's Robbie Kiely was sent off for two yellow cards late on while O'Hare's penalty gave Down a first home win of the campaign. Too little too late.
scorers - Down: D O'Hare 1-2 (1-0 pen, 2f); S Dornan 1-1; C Mooney 0-3; C Maginn 0-2; P Turley, A Doherty (45'), R Johnston 0-1 each. Tipperary: M Quinlivan 1-1; J Kennedy (2f); C Sweeney (1f) 0-3 each; K O'Halloran 0-2 (1f); K Fahey, J Keane 0-1 (f).
Down - S Harrison 6; C Flanagan 7, B McArdle 7, A Doherty 7; D McKibbin 7, N McParland 6, C Mooney 8; P Turley 7, N Donnelly 6; K McKernan 7, C Maginn 7, S Millar 6; A Morgan 6, D O'Hare 8, S Dornan 7.Subs: R Johnston 6 for Maginn (54), D O'Hanlon 6 for Maginn (55), C Harrison 6 for Dornan (57), C Poland 6 for Donnelly (63), D O'Hagan NR for Millar (70).
Tipperary - C Kenrick 6; C O'Shaughnessy 7, P Codd 6, E Moloney 7; Luke Boland 6, R Kiely 6, K Fahey 7; G Hannigan 6, J Kennedy 7; J Keane 7, S Murray 6, B Fox 6; K O'Halloran 7, M Quinlivan 7, Liam Boland 7. Subs: C Sweeney 7 for Murray (h-t), S O'Brien 7 for Hannigan (h-t), S Carey 6 for Keane (50), J Feehan 6 for Luke Boland (55), D McGrath 6 for Moloney (55), I Fahey 6 for Carey (63).
Ref - Barry Cassidy (Derry).