Tipperary’s brave run in the All Ireland senior football qualifiers came to an end at Mullingar on Saturday with defeat to Down, 1-13 to 0-11.
It was heartbreak for the Premier men as they matched the beaten Ulster finalists for much of the game.
Despite a slow start, and failing to score for the first twenty four minutes, after which they trailed 0-5 to no score, they dominated the last ten minutes of the first half and entering added time had the margin down to two, 0-6 to 0-4, with points from two Michael Quinlivan frees, Peter Acheson and Brian Fox.
The looked in good shape for the second half when they would have the strong breeze behind them but disaster struck deep into added time. A ball that appeared to be going over the bar bounced back off the upright and Down scrambled the ball across the line for a goal totally against the run of play to leave it 1-6 to 0-4 at the break.
Tipperary played some superb football in the second half and despite going six points behind with just eleven minutes left, they had the margin down to just three with five minutes left following two Alan Maloney points and a great score from Brian Mulvihill.
A Tipp goal would have set up a grandstand finish but the Ulster side finished stronger with two late points to win by five.
A four game run in the qualifiers has earned new respect for Tipperary football and given new boss Peter Creedon a firm foundation to build on for the future.