Kearns takes ref to task as Tipp exit
Armagh 1-17 Tipperary 1-15
Tipperary manager Liam Kearns took referee Paddy Neilan to task following Saturday's All-Ireland SFC Round 3B qualifier defeat to Armagh at Semple Stadium.
This was a poor outing for the Roscommon official whose application of the advantage rule - or lack of it - frustrated both sides.
Armagh's Gavin McParland had the ball in the Tipperary net in the 19th minute and yet Neilan called play back for an Emmet Moloney foul that was borderline at best.
Advantage was the clear option on that occasion and Tipp also suffered late in the second half, when Philip Austin was called back when bursting through on goal.
A black card for Tipperary's Jack Kennedy early in the second half was probably the right call, but Ciaran McKeever should have been punished similarly in stoppage-time, with Neilan opting for yellow instead.
There were other instances where good tackles were deemed to be fouls.
However, what enraged Tipp boss Kearns more than anything was the implication from Neilan that his players were diving in several instances where they looked to have been fouled.
"Look, I'm not going to comment too much on the referee, but I'm very disappointed with the referee," he said.
"All I could see from him was this (diving motion).
"My players don't dive, and he was calling dives all over the pitch. I just could not understand that.
"Also, on the advantage rule, somebody would want to explain the advantage rule to him because he didn't seem to know it. That's all I'm going to say on it.
"He didn't cost us the game, Armagh deserved to win the match, but I would be disappointed with his display."
Kearns was correct in his assertion that Armagh were deserved winners.
Trailing by 0-8 to 0-10 at half-time, the visitors were a much-improved outfit in the second-half, playing with the wind and pressing Tipp successfully.
Michael Quinlivan was called in to start and while Tipp's All-Star was clearly not fully fit, he did bang home a brilliant 38th-minute goal. However, in front of a 6,823 attendance, Tipp wouldn't score for 20 minutes after that and Armagh came on strong.
The Orchard men finally got ahead for the first time with nine minutes left and while Tipp hit back to level, Jamie Clarke's well-taken goal in the final minute of normal time was the clinching score.
Armagh hit Tipp with a brilliant counter-attack and Clarke kept his cool, dropping the ball to the turf before coolly slotting home.
The home side had a couple of late close-in frees which Quinlivan took off the ground and went for goal, but they were blocked as Armagh held on to book a spot in Round 4B.
It was also a sweet revenge mission for Kieran McGeeney's charges, who'd lost to Tipp in a winner-takes-all promotion shoot-out at the Athletic Grounds in April.
Defeat leaves Kearns with some thinking to do as he mulls over whether or not to take charge for a third season. Tipp were All-Ireland semi-finalists last year, but the Kerryman hinted that some things will need to change if he's to continue.
"There were things that I wouldn't be happy with, but they're all stuff to be talked about and I'll have to sit down and talk with all the stakeholders," said Kearns.
"I'll talk to the players, I'll talk to the football board, the county board and, obviously, my own family, and consider what's best for Tipperary football.
"I'll take a couple of weeks off completely and then we'll start the process. Hopefully, in five or six weeks, we'll make a decision."
Kearns will also touch base with former captain Peter Acheson, who was in Dubai this year, to see if he's interested in a return. Colin O'Riordan, in Australia with the Sydney Swans, is another player on his radar, along with Steven O'Brien and Seamus Kennedy, who are with the senior hurlers.
"When I took the job two years ago, I thought I had a load of players, which I didn't have when I went in to do the job," added Kearns.
"If I'm taking it on for another two years, I'm definitely going to find out, prior to taking it, what exactly I have. That's only fair and anybody would do that. You have to see what you're working with."
For Armagh, this was another encouraging outing as Niall Grimley, Brendan Donaghy, Mark Shields and Aidan Forker produced big displays.
Selector Paddy McKeever hailed the character of his players, as they fought back from a four-point deficit to win by two.
He said: "It is borne out of similar losses that they've had, some of the collective criticism they have received from all quarters. They were going to define what their year was about.
"Again, it's only one step, but we have rallied around each other and picked each other up. Game by game we are improving, but again we are going up another level.
"There is improvement there, but we have a lot of work to do."
Grimley kept Armagh ticking over in the first half as Tipp failed to capitalise fully on some good possession. The door remained ajar for the visitors and they took full advantage, outscoring Tipp by 1-9 to 1-5 in the second half.
Scorers - Tipperary: J Keane 0-4 (2f), M Quinlivan 1-0, C Sweeney 0-3f, L Casey, K O'Halloran (1f) & J Kennedy (2f) 0-2 each, B Fox & P Austin 0-1 each. Armagh: N Grimley 0-8 (5f, 1 45), J Clarke 1-1, G McParland & R Grugan (1f) 0-2 each, A Forker, S Sheridan, G McCabe & S Campbell 0-1 each.
Tipperary: C Kenrick 7; A Campbell 6, P Codd 7, E Moloney 7; B Maher 7, R Kiely 6, J Feehan 6; L Casey 7, G Hannigan 6; J Keane 7, K O'Halloran 6, B Fox 6; C Sweeney 6, M Quinlivan 6, J Kennedy 6. Subs: P Austin 6 for Hannigan (h.t.), G Hannigan for Kennedy (b/c 48), L Boland 5 for Moloney (48), D Foley for O'Halloran (70+2), L McGrath for Boland (70+4).
Armagh: B Hughes 6; G McCabe 7, J Morgan 6, C Vernon 6; B Donaghy 7, P Hughes 6, A Forker 7; S Sheridan 7, N Grimley 8; C O'Hanlon 6, M Shields 7, R Grugan 7; G McParland 7, A Murnin 6, J Clarke 7. Subs: J McElroy 6 for McCabe (inj., 28), S Campbell 7 for O'Hanlon (47), C McKeever for Clarke (70+3), E Rafferty for Murnin (70+8).
Ref - P Neilan (Roscommon).