Tipperary’s senior footballers got their Allianz National Football League campaign off to a great start when they comprehensively dealt with a poor Carlow challenge in Dr Cullen Park, Carlow on Sunday.
Peter Creedon’s men handed out a severe hiding to the host team and looked fresh, eager and hungry as they went about their business in a very sprightly fashion indeed.
Perhaps their withdrawl from the McGrath Cup has been of benefit to Tipp in the sense that they have had all players to call on in pre-season challenge games - they certainly looked the part on Sunday, but will be the first to admit that Carlow were well below par on the day too.
Still, Tipp boasted twelve men on the scoresheet and hit the target on a whopping 26 times out of 32 efforts - not bad going for summer football, never mind winter fare.
Tipperary enjoyed a very solid first half showing which laid the foundations for victory from the off.Even allowing for the fact that Carlow lost corner forward Paul Broderick who was dismissed in the 11th minute, the Premier men showed plenty of industry and creativity when on the ball.
They racked up 0-12 in the half could have had a goal too when a Conor Sweeney effort rattled the crossbar in the 24th minute after Quinlivan and Austin combined to create the opening.
Tipperary’s point scoring though was impressive and while Carlow’s defence can be accused of being generous in the space they allowed, the ball still had to be put over. Playing only a two man full forward line, even when having an extra man, Tipp led from the off with wing back Donagh Leahy getting the first of his two points after only 20 seconds of play.
Tipp took the game to Carlow and though guilty of giving away some easy ball, they worked hard to win it back when they had to. Conor Sweeney had a very productive half as he emerged with 0-5 to his name, just one coming from a free.
And, Tipp had scores too from Barry Grogan (2), Conal McCollough and corner back Andrew Morrissey to open up a 0-12 to 0-4 interval lead.
Carlow, short a few regulars, and then down to fourteen men looked a disjoined bunch and they offered little resistence in the half, or suggestion that they could improve in the second half. Their scores came from Brendan Murphy, Darragh Foley, Daniel St Ledger and Graham Power - an effort which could so easily have been a goal had he kept his effort on the ground.
Carlow needed to up the ante considerably and Tipp needed to capitulate for there to be any other result other than a Tipperary victory at the half way mark. Neither happened.
Though sub Jordon Lowry had a point for Carlow within 10 seconds of the re-start, Tipp added on Conor Sweeney and Barry Grogan points, before a well taken Carlow penalty goal from Seamus Kinsella brought a temporary lift to proceedings. It was short lived though and Sweeney and Grogan points again, followed by a Philip Austin goal after he had combined with Sweeney, put the game beyond the reach of Carlow and beyond doubt.
Tipp didn’t let up mind and scores were to follow for Michael Quinlivan, Peter Acheson, Ian Fahey, Adlo Matassa, Ger Hally and Paddy Codd, with Sweeney adding a 17th minute goal following a pass and set-up from Barry Grogan.
It was a stroll in the park for Tipp in the closing stages, but perhaps the manner in which they drove on gives a level of indication as to the kind of attitude that exists in the camp.
The players grew in confidence as the game progressed and the win is the perfect start for them as they launch their assault on the promotion bid. Sterner tests lies ahead though.
Sweeney was the star of the show bagging 1-7 with just 0-2 from frees, while Barry Grogan, Peter Acheson, Donagh Leahy, Andrew Morrissey, Stephen O’Brien and Ger Mulhaire were prominent.
Teams and Scorers:
Tipperary: P Fitzgerald, J Coughlan, P Codd 0-1, A Morrissey 0-1, G Mulhaire, R Kiely, D Leahy 0-2, G Hannigan, P Acheson 0-1, B Fox, B Grogan 0-5, C McCullough 0-1, C Sweeney 1-7, M Quinlivan 0-1, P Austin 0-1. Subs: S O’Brien for R Kiely; I Fahey 0-1 for C McCullough; A Campbell for Mulhaire; A Matassa 0-1 for B Fox; B O’Brien for Quinlivan; G Halley 0-1 for Acheson.
Carlow: A O’Brien, B J Molloy, M Curry, J O’Donoghue, K Nolan, B Kavanagh, G Power 0-2, H Gahan, D Foley 0-1, P Reid, D St. Ledger 0-1, D Banbrick, P Broderick, B Murphy 0-1, S Kinsella 1-0. Subs: J Lowry 0-2 for K Nolan; C Moran for St Ledger; S McGrath 0-1 for P Reid; M Brennan for H Gahan; M Meaney for M Curry; W Minchin for Kinsella.
Referee: D Gough (Meath)