Down make perfect start to campaign with victory away to Tipperary

Ulster side’s well-organised defence stands up to the task at Semple Stadium

Tipperary 1-11 Down 2-11

Down’s bright start to 2023 continued as they defeated Tipperary in the opening round in Division Three of the National Football League at FBD Semple Stadium on Saturday night.

The visitors took control from the off with Pat Havern kicking the first of his three points from play in the half after five minutes. They were three to the good by the time Tipp opened their account from a Seán O’Connor free after 16 minutes.

The home side struggled to breach a well-organised Down defence, not helped by cheap turnovers, and from one such counterattack, Eamon Brown played in Havern for a 20th-minute goal to help Down into a 1-6 to 0-2 half-time lead.


Tipp were so poor they failed to register a shot at goal from open play in the first half, but captain Conor Sweeney put that right with a 38th-minute point. They were further boosted by the sending off of Niall McParland for a second bookable offence two minutes later.

The hosts reduced the arrears to four but a costly mistake by goalkeeper Michael O’Reilly allowed Conor Francis in for a 61st-minute goal. Teddy Doyle cancelled that out two minutes later, however his sending off for a second yellow card in added time ended Tipp’s hopes of taking something from the game.

TIPPERARY: M O’Reilly; S O’Connell, J Feehan, D Carew; K Fahey, C O’Shaughnessy, E Moloney; L Boland, J Kennedy (0-1, free); M Stokes, M O’Shea (0-1), T Doyle (1-0); L McGrath, C Sweeney (0-4, three frees), S O’Connor (0-1, free).

Subs: C Deeley for Boland (32, inj); S O’Brien for O’Connor (h-t); C Cadell for Stokes (44); M Russell (0-2) for Moloney (51); D Leahy (0-2) for Sweeney (63, inj).

DOWN: J O’Hare; R McEvoy, P Laverty, R Magill; M Rooney, N McParland, C Francis (1-0); N Donnelly, O Murdock (0-1); G Collins, D McAleenan, L Kerr; E Brown (0-2), P Havern (1-4, one free), B O’Hagan (0-2, two frees).

Subs: A Gilmore (0-2, one free) for Brown (45); C Doherty for Rooney (46); C Fitzpatrick for Donnelly (58); D McClements for McAleenan (61); P Branagan for Collins (70).

Referee: C Maguire (Clare).