Michael Quinlivan is challenged by Lee Keegan. Quinlivan scored Tipperary's first half goal against the Connacht side in this evening's game in Thurles.
All-Ireland Senior Football Championship Qualifiers (Round 2)
TIPPERARY 1-11 :: 1-19 MAYO
Tipperary senior footballers bowed out of this year’s championship against Mayo at Semple Stadium, Thurles, on Saturday evening but only after a brave and battling display.
Defeat may ultimately have been Tipperary’s lot at the end of an enthralling encounter, but Liam Kearns’ team left nothing behind them in a performance that for a long time had the second best team in the country in all sorts of trouble.
But at the end of the day, the craft, guile and experience of the Westerners, aided by a somewhat fortuitous goal, saw them finish the stronger over the last 20 minutes for a eight points win that was a little flattering for Stephen Rochford’s side.
On an evening made in heaven and in front of a magnificent attendance of 11,257 for a football game in Thurles, those present were served up a cracker that had Tipp dreaming of a sensational shock well into the second half. Three points in a row for Tipperary (from Michael Quinlivan, Liam McGrath and Conor Sweeney) in a four-minute spell early in the second half put them three clear and in the ascendancy, and it could have been four but for a disappointing miss by Jack Kennedy in the 49th minute.
But in an almost mirror image of the All-Ireland semi-final two years ago between the same sides, Mayo responded with a softish-enough James Durcan goal in the 52nd minute – an effort for a point that looped in over Evan Comerford - to equalise. From that moment on the whole dynamic and momentum of the game changed in favour of the Connacht side and they finished like a locomotive scoring the last eight points of the game without reply as Tipperary heads and hearts wilted in the sizzling sunshine.
Few would have foreseen a Tipperary victory before the game, but no one could have seen Mayo run out such comfortable winners by 1-19 to 1-11 in the end, having been three down with just over 20 minutes to play.
It is a disappointing end to Tipp’s year when many hoped they might make the Super 8’s but they had little luck in being drawn against such a superb side as Mayo in the qualifiers. Many feel they could have "taken care of" a good few of the other counties still in the draw but such is the luck of the lottery qualifiers. Tipperary can take heart though from the fact that once again they demonstrated that they are a fine footballing side with an attractive style of play. Saturday's performance also exorcised the lethargic display that they produced in the Munster semi-final against Cork a month ago.
There is no team on earth that has suffered as much as Mayo footballers and yet admirably and somewhat stoically season after season they come back to try again. Liam Kearns’ team will have to take that lesson also from this evening’s game and go again next year. Tipperary are not far off the top mark, but perseverance and belief, can never be dismissed.
And the real winner last Saturday was football. The Mayo supporters travelled in their thousands to the ‘Home of Hurling’ to support their side, and a greater number of Tipp followers than usual were in Semple Stadium to enjoy a superb game. Hopefully there will be more days like these. And hopefully too Mayo might go all the way to lift the Sam Maguire on the first Sunday in September. If ever a team of supporters deserved it, Mayo do.
Mayo shot out of the blocks in the opening six minutes with four points without reply, two Cillian O'Connor frees followed by a point apiece for the O'Shea brothers, Aidan and Seamus. At this stage it looked like it might be a long day in the sun for Tipp - some wondered might Tramore have been a better option - but they eventually got on the scoreboard after eight minutes with a Philip Austin point - the Borrisokane man a late replacement for Liam Casey.
In the ninth minute Tipp were level with a well-taken goal. A long ball played in from the Old Stand side by Josh Keane saw Michael Quinlivan get ahead of his marker and Mayo keeper David Clarke to flick the ball to the net. Once again the 2016 All-Star demonstrating what a top-class goalscorer he is. Soon afterwards the pacey Philip Austin got in to fist over a point to put Tipp ahead for the first time.
Kevin McLoughlin, one of Mayo's stars throughout, levelled in the 16th minute with a left legged point from 40 metres out.
And then after Philip Austin was fouled, Liam McGrath pointed the free in the 19th minute, and a minute later Conor Sweeney added another to see Tipp lead by 1-4 to 0-5 after 20 minutes.
Always dangerous on the counter-attack Mayo put a delightful length-of-the-field move together which saw the ever-dangerous James Durcan reduce the leeway in the 22nd minute and three minutes later, after Jason Doherty was fouled, Cillian O'Connor kicked his third free of the evening to level matters for the third time.
Michael Quinlivan, playing advantage, had a shot at goal superbly saved, before Liam McGrath tagged on the free, awarded in lieu, to edge Tipp ahead. This was followed by a superb Jack Kennedy point which originated from Evan Comerford's kick out and was worked through to Kennedy by Liam McGrath.
Cillian O'Connor's fourth free of the first half reduced the deficit to the minimum but, with the aid of a "Tá" from Hawkeye, Michael Quinlivan sent Tipp to the interval leading by two points at 1-7 to 0-8.
Mayo had the first two points after the re-start from Jason Doherty and another free from Cillian O'Connor to draw level two minutes in. If the Westerners thought Tipp would capitulate easily at this juncture, they got their answer very soon and very emphatically with three excellent points in quick succession from Quinlivan, McGrath and Sweeney, for a deserved three points lead in the 46th minute.
Significantly the opportunity for Jack Kennedy to stretch that to a statement-making four points advantage was badly missed, knowing that every score Tipp could muster against this Mayo side was essential to take.
A warning sign arrived in the 49th minute from Mayo when James Durcan blasted over when he might have goaled, but with Michael Quinlivan pointing soon afterwards for Tipp into the Killinan end, the home side's three points lead remained intact.
But not for long however, James Durcan's effort at a point looped over the head of Evan Comerford and into the Tipp net to give the Connacht side a huge boost and an equaliser - for the fifth time. It was a massive massive blow for Tipp to concede so much, so easily, on a day in a sun-baked cauldron when every score was vitally important. From there on in there was only going to be one winner.
In a powerful last quarter Mayo, despite having the older age profile, finished like the proverbial train with eight more points without reply from Kevin McLoughlin, Jason Doherty (2), Paddy Durcan (a twin brother of the goalscorer), Andy Moran, Lee Keegan, Conor Loftus (free) and finally McLoughlin again in the 75th minute - almost like a who's who of top class footballers.
Tipp had given the game their best shot but, no doubt, the better team had deservedly come up trumps at the end of the day.
Scorers for Tipperary: Michael Quinlivan 1-2, Liam McGrath 0-4 (0-2f), Conor Sweeney and Philip Austin 0-2 each, Jack Kennedy 0-1.
Scorers for Mayo: Cillian O’Connor 0-5 (0-5f), James Durcan 1-2, Jason Doherty and Kevin McLoughlin 0-3 each, Andy Moran, Paddy Durcan, Seamie O’Shea, Aidan O’Shea and Conor Loftus (0-1f) 0-1 each.
Evan Comerford (Kilsheelan-Kilcash), Shane O’Connell (Golden-Kilfeacle), Alan Campbell (Moyle Rovers), John Meagher (Loughmore-Castleiney), Brian Fox (Éire Óg Annacarty-Donohill), Jimmy Feehan (Killenaule), Robbie Kiely (Carbery Rangers, captain), Bill Maher (Kilsheelan-Kilcash), Jack Kennedy (Clonmel Commercials), Steven O’Brien (Ballina), Josh Keane (Golden-Kilfeacle), Liam McGrath (Loughmore-Castleiney), Philip Austin (Borrisokane), Conor Sweeney (Ballyporeen), Michael Quinlivan (Clonmel Commercials).
Liam Boland (Moyle Rovers) for Austin (59); Liam Casey (Cahir) for Kennedy (60); Kevin O’Halloran (Portroe) for McGrath (64); Kevin Fahey (Clonmel Commercials) for Feehan (65); Jason Lonergan (Clonmel Commercials) for Keane (67); George Hannigan (Shannon Rovers) for O’Brien (71).
David Clarke (Ballina Stephenites), Patrick Durcan (Castlebar Mitchels), Ger Cafferkey (Ballina Stephenites), Colm Boyle (Davitts), Chris Barrett (Belmullet), Keith Higgins (Ballyhaunis), Lee Keegan (Westport), Stephen Coen (Hollymount/Carramore), Seamus O’Shea (Breaffy), Kevin McLoughlin (Knockmore), Aidan O’Shea (Breaffy), Jason Doherty (Burrishoole), Cillian O’Connor (Ballintubber – captain), James Durcan (Castlebar Mitchels), Andy Moran (Ballaghaderreen)
Diarmuid O’Connor for Seamus O’Shea (30); Cian Hanley (Ballaghadereen) for Boyle (35+4 black-card); Evan Regan (Ballina Stephenites) for McLoughlin (blood sub, 39 – 45); Eoin O’Donoghue (Belmullet) for Barrett (55); Evan Regan for Cillian O’Connor (67); Conor Loftus (Crossmolina) for Moran (69); Danny Kirby (Castlebar Mitchels) for Diarmuid O’Connor (71)
Referee: Maurice Deegan (Laois)