Two second half goals helped condemn Louth to defeat in today’s Allianz National Football League Division Three final – as Tipperary won by a scoreline of 3-19 to 0-19 at Croke Park.
Whilst the main objective of the league campaign – that being promotion – has already been secured by both sides but its the Premier County who can look ahead to the summer with silverware on the mantel, thanks to what was in the end a comfortable victory.
There was sizeable Ardee representation in the Louth XV, with Ardee St Marys John Bingham, Westerns midfielder Tommy Durnin and Ryan Burns of Hunterstown Rovers all named in the starting line up for Louth’s second straight league final at GAA headquarters.
Durnin and Burns both started last year’s Division Four showpiece victory over Antrim while Marys club captain Bingham was introduced as a substitute in that game.
Today, only Bingham played the full match but while on the pitch, Burns and Durnin made major contributions – scoring 0-05 and 0-03 respectively as Louth raced out of the traps and then latterly tried to keep pace with their fellow promoted side.
Colin Kelly’s team raced into a three point lead and in fact held a three point advantage at the midway point of the first half before a Tipp blitz, one which included Liam Casey’s goal, sent them in five points to the good at the break.
That was despite Ryan Burns’ two first half scores, both from frees. They bookended the spell in the game where Tipperary took command. The Hunterstown man’s first effort from a free sent Louth into a 0-04 to 0-02 lead. His second came 18 minutes later and by that stage Louth trailed by five. His free made it 0-08 to 1-09.
In that period, Durnin kicked over with a left footed attempt after breaking from midfield whilst Bingham was unlucky not to register a score himself. His point effort was high and close but Hawkeye determined the ball had sailed just the wrong side of the post.
The half time score of 0-09 to 1-11 in Tipperary’s favour meant that Louth had to fly out of the traps in the second half and they started well, scoring four points to hone in on the lead. Burns scored his first from play and then Durnin ended a fine Louth attack by puting over.
Moments later, Durnin was taken down as he advanced with the ball and Burns obliged to score his third free. At that stage, it was 0-13 to 1-12. It was as good as it got. After Liam Kearns side’ reestablished their five point advantage, Mattock Rangers’ Adrian Reid was withdrawn as Kelly looked to wrestle some kind of control back.
Louth huffed and puffed, but whether scores were taken or not, they struggled to keep Tipperary quiet. Durnin gave a display of his strength to hold off a number of challenges before splitting the sticks with his left foot and after Conor Sweeney got Tipp’s second goal, Burns scored his fourth and final free of the match.
Gerard McSorely replaced him and Conall McKeever came on for Durnin late on – two surprising enough changes as Louth chased but it was in vain. A goal in the seventh minute of six added on from Sweeney handed Tipp a nine point win.
The winning margin will deflate Louth players and in truth the match was more closer run than that. Still, their win at Semple Stadium last month was of significantly more importance in earning promotion. Today was an occasion.
The Next Generation
There was even more Ardee action on the Croke Park field at half-time of today’s Division Three showpiece. Well done to Joe O’Brien from Ardee St Marys and Cillian Taaffe from Hunterstown Rovers who took part in the exhibition game at the interval out on the hallowed turf.