Coulter's goal proves pivotal as eager Down bounce back


Down 1-13 Tipperary 0-11:A SCRAMBLED goal four minutes into added-time at the end of the first half ultimately proved to be the decisive score as Down qualified for the All-Ireland quarter-final with a somewhat flattering five-point win over Tipperary in a well-contested fourth round qualifier tie in Mullingar on Saturday.

“Everybody was tipping this as the shock of the weekend and we were determined that wasn’t going to be the case, even if it wasn’t pretty at times,” said Down manager James McCartan.

“I have been in a lot of Down dressingrooms where we have been beaten in far off fields in the ‘back door’ – we didn’t want this to be the place that we were put out of the championship.”

Trailing by just two points after 38 minutes, having played against the wind, Tipperary looked well poised to extend their noteworthy campaign into August. The referee had stipulated three minutes’ injury-time, but a further delay saw an extra minute correctly added, during which Kevin Duffin’s shot came back off the upright. In the ensuing scramble, Conor Laverty attempted to poke the ball towards goal before Benny Coulter got the vital touch to send the Mournemen into the dressingrooms with a five-point lead (1-6 to 0-4).

There had been very little between the sides up to Coulter’s goal, despite Tipperary’s failure to score until the 23rd minute, by which stage Down had five points on the board, the latter two both coming from defenders – Dan Gordon and Brendan McArdle.

Gordon’s impressive fetching close to his own goal area had been important in his side’s clean sheet for 22 minutes, while Alan Maloney spurned a glorious goal chance for Tipperary in the 13th minute, trying to place his shot from close range rather than opting for power. This opportunity followed a half-chance of a goal at the other end following good approach play from the always-lively Mark Poland, whose two early points (a free and play) had settled his side.

On the change of ends, Philip Austin narrowed the gap with a point within 30 seconds of the resumption of play.

Centre half forward Austin was later withdrawn, as were both midfielders and centre half back, Robbie Kiely, an indicator the team was not performing in key areas.

Points from man-of-the-match Ambrose Rogers, Kevin Duffin (a terrific free from the ground) and Benny Coulter had Down seven points ahead by the 41st minute.

The sides then traded two points apiece before Tipperary rallied well with points from Alan Maloney (three – including one free) and a great score from substitute Brian Mulvihill, to leave them within a goal of Down with six minutes of normal time remaining.

However, Down responded well to the challenge and Mark Poland rounded off a patient move with a point, quickly followed by a fisted score from Rogers, after a tremendous run into the heart of the Tipperary defence.

The Munster men, whose recent underage heroics would suggest they will be back in the closing stages of the senior championship in the years ahead, almost conjured up the goal they craved in the dying moments via Mulvihill, but it is Down who deservedly advance to the last eight.

“We’re out of the championship. We’re disappointed. But listen I’m proud of the team, I think they gave everything on the field.

“That’s all we ask for really. We can’t complain,” said Tipp manager Peter Creedon.

DOWN:B McVeigh; N McParland, D Gordon (0-1), D O’Hagan; A Carr, C Garvey, B McArdle (0-1); A Rogers (0-4, 0-1 free), K King; C Maginn, M Poland (0-4, 0-1 free), K Duffin (0-1, free); E McCartan, B Coulter (1-2), C Laverty. Subs: K McKernan for Carr (48 mins), L Doyle for McParland (52 mins), D O’Hare for McCartan (55 mins), A Brannigan for Duffin (60 mins).

TIPPERARY:P Fitzgerald; A Morrissey, P Codd, C McDonald; A Campbell, R Kiely, B Fox (0-1); G Hannigan, H Coghlan; R Ryan, P Austin (0-2), D Leahy; A Maloney (0-3, 0-1 free), P Acheson (0-1), M Quinlivan (0-3, 0-2 frees). Subs: B O’Brien for Ryan (half-time), B Mulvihill (0-1) for Austin (54 mins), R Costigan for Hannigan (55 mins), M Dunne for Coghlan (61 mins), J O’Callaghan for Kiely (62 mins).

Referee: C Reilly (Meath).

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