After a dismal start to the campaign, Tipperary finally â€œbroke their duckâ€ in the Allianz National Football League, Division Four, when at Semple stadium on Sunday they were full value for their seven points win over London.
Defeats by Carlow and Waterford in the earlier rounds left Tipperaryâ€™s promotional hopes hanging by a thread, but this win, albeit against a London team which has yet to register a victory, keeps the door open for the Premier County lads, with next weekâ€™s away clash with Clare now a crucial fixture.
Tipperary are without five or six key players due to injury but it is not clear when they will return. Certainly their re-appearance now would be a big boost to the campaign as the team seeks to make up ground lost in the opening rounds.
The merit of this win cannot be disputed but the home side were made to fight all the way by a London outfit which included in its ranks, goalkeeper Evan Byrne of J K Brackens. Two goal chances were spurned in the first half which could have made life a lot easier later on, but against that, Londonâ€™s Lloyd Colfer settled for a point in a one-on-one situation with Tipperary goalie Paul Fitzgerald in the first half when a goal would have made a huge difference to their challenge.
Late changes to the Tipperary line-up saw Brian Jones and Conor Sweeney in for Robbie Costigan and Michael Quinlivan, and with the fresh breeze in their favour, Tipperary were early on the offensive. Despite having the breeze, Tipperaryâ€™s half-forwards were dropping back to build up their attacks from deep in their own half, a strategy that was paying dividends, enabling them to retain possession.
After fifteen minutes Tipp led 0-5 to 0-2, thanks to points from Barry Grogan (2), Alan Moloney (2) and George Hannigan. Grogan had a goal-bound shot well-stopped by London goalie Byrne after four minutes, while Brian Fox had a shot charged down in the eleventh minute, again with a goal a distinct possibility.
Tipperaryâ€™s three point lead looked in jeopardy when Lloyd Colfer got inside the defence but with Paul Fitzgerald advancing quickly from the Tipp goal, the Londoner opted for a point in the eighteenth minute.
After Peter Acheson pointed six minutes later, Tipperary got a vital break in the 28th minute when Conor Sweeney slotted home from an acute angle, after good approach work by George Hanningan, a score which gave Tipperary an interval lead of 1-6 to 0-3.
Hugh Coghlan came on at half-time for Alan Campbell and while a six point advantage seemed reasonable, London quickly registered two points. Game on in earnest.
Hugh Coghlan steadied things with a Tipp point in the 40th minute, after an excellent six man move, but Colfer quickly cancelled it out. A Barry Grogan free in the 47th minute had Tipp five clear but points from Colfer and McGoldrick had London only three adrift with 19 minutes to play.
That was as good as it got for London as Tipperary hit the next three points through Darren Lowry, Conor Sweeney and Brian Fox to open a six point lead with five minutes to play.
It wasnâ€™t over yet as London were awarded a penalty two minutes from time which McGoldrick put away with aplomb.
No panic from Tipperary, and in a break upfield, Hugh Coghlanâ€™s well-placed delivery was turned into the London net by George Hannigan in the 70th minute. In injury time, Peter Acheson extended the lead to clinch a most comprehensive win.
Only 251 people attended the fixture but such detail will matter little to Tipperary team management who were relieved to get the campaignâ€™s first win, and who will be hoping to build on this result in the coming weeks. However, there are some very difficult games ahead, not least the next outing against Clare, who defeated Offaly last week-end, and with such as Limerick, Offaly, and Leitrim also to be played, claiming a promotion spot is going to be a tall order.
The positive thing is that this was a much improved showing on previous outings and while there is plenty of room for improvement, the boost to morale should also be considerable. Significantly, the more established players in the squad led the way with team captain, Paddy Codd, leading by example, ably assisted by George Hannigan, Peter Acheson, and Barry Grogan. Brian Fox came more into the game as it progressed while Conor Sweeney showed his flare for taking a score with two valuable contributions. Hugh Coghlan also did well when introduced.
London showed plenty of spirit and enthusiasm but a reluctance to shoot near goal reduced their effectiveness. They lost both midfielders just before half-time, which did not help their cause. Evan Byrne did all that was asked of him in goal while David McGreevy, Seamus Hannon, Lloyd Colfer, Padraig McGoldrick and Gregory Crowley were others to impress.
Tipperary â€“ Paul Fitzgerald; John Coghlan, Paddy Codd, Andrew Morrissey; Donagh Leahy, Ciaran McDonald, Alan Campbell; George Hannigan(1-1), Peter Acheson(0-2); Brian Fox(0-1), Brian Jones, AldoMatassa; Alan Moloney(0-2, 2f), Barry Grogan(0-3( 2fs), Conor Sweeney (1-1); Subs- Hugh Coghlan(0-1) for Campbell; Darren Lowry(0-1) for Jones; Lorcan Egan for Moloney; Donal Lynch for Matassa;
London- Evan Byrne; Stephen Curran, Kevin Lynam, David McGreevy; Seamus Hannon, Graham Carr, Danny Ryan; Jared Monaghan, Martin Carroll; Gregory Crowley(0-1), Lloyd Colfer(0-4, 2fs), Ciaran McAlllion; Padraig McGoldrick(1-3, 1-2,fs), Peter Atkinson, Mark Gottsche; Subs- Edward Finnegan for Monaghan; Peter Finn for Carroll; Aidan McTigue for Atkinson; Eamon McConville for Ryan; Mark Cahalane for Carr;
Ref â€“ Michael Meade, Limerick.