Leitrim's Jack Gilheany following the loss to Tipperary at Avantcard Pairc Sean MacDiarmada.
Leitrim's Jack Gilheany following the loss to Tipperary at Avantcard Pairc Sean MacDiarmada.

Allianz FL D3: Leitrim suffer relegation

Alllianz Football League Division Three

Derry 1-12 Offaly 1-10

Louth 3-13 Down 0-16

Tipperary 2-11 Leitrim 0-15

It turned out that Down’s win over Derry on 1 February was the decisive result in Division 3 as their superior head-to-head record was enough to secure promotion for Down – despite their loss against Louth.

With Derry picking up a 1-12 to 1-10 win away to Offaly, both sides finished with nine points – behind the already promoted Cork – but it is Down that will play Division Two football in 2021, while Longford handed a walkover to Cork in the fourth game of the day.

In Dowdallshill, Ryan Johnson and Paul Devlin points got Down off to the perfect start, but the Leinster outfit soon settled with a couple of Sam Mulroy points before Ciaran Keenan struck a goal for Louth, which put them 1-3 to 0-2 clear after 12 minutes.

With Devlin and Johnson continuing to impress up top Down kept in touch and closed the gap to one point in the final ten minutes of the first half, but after a Bevan Duffy point, Mulroy hit a lovely goal for Louth, who led by 2-7 to 0-9 at the break.

With six straight losses to their name Louth could have been forgiven for protecting what they had, but instead John Clutterbuck and Liam Jackson added to their tally after the restart. And when Conall McKeever pounced on a defensive error to score a third Louth goal his side held a 3-10 to 0-11 lead with 20 minutes remaining and they held on for a morale boosting win ahead of the championship.

Meanwhile, in Tullamore, Danny Tallon and Shane McGuigan (twice) were on target early on Derry raced into a 0-3 to 0-1 lead after ten minutes. Ciaran McFaul and McGuigan doubled Derry’s lead by the water break, as John Maughan’s side continued to struggle with the high intensity of the Ulster men.

Danny Talon and Enda Lynn gave Derry a six-point lead as they threatened to race away to a big win, but Offaly gave themselves some hope when Aaron Leavy hit the net three minutes from the break. But there was still time for Derry to hit back and Ethan Doherty goaled, while further points from Derry meant they led by eight points at half time.

Offaly’s challenge was far from over though. Anton Sullivan hit a couple of early points in the half, and although Chrissy McKaigue kicked a good score for Derry, three in a row from Niall McNamee meant Offaly only trailed by four with 13 minutes remaining.

While Offaly had Eoin Carroll sent off after a second yellow card offence, McNamee cut the lead to three points in the 62nd minute, but Ethan Doherty’s late score made sure of the Derry win.

Elsewhere, the Division Three relegation battle was settled at Avantcard Páirc Seán Mac Diarmada, and Tipperary will remain in the third tier next year after goals from Kevin O’Halloran and Liam Casey in each half sealed the win and relegated Leitrim at the same time.

With the wind at their backs in the opening half Leitrim would have been disappointed to fall behind early on with Conal Kennedy and Conor Sweeney finding the target for Tipperary, but the home side kicked three of the next four points to draw level after 11 minutes with Ryan O’Rourke and Darragh Rooney kicking good points.

But the decisive score of the half arrived in the 12th minute when O'Halloran hit the net for Tipperary, before Jack Kennedy stretched their advantage out to four points as half time approached.

Brian Fox added to that Tipperary advantage, but Leitrim finished the half impressively, with three Keith Beirne points cutting their half time deficit to 1-5 to 0-7.

While Michael Quinlivan put Tipp two points up early in the second half, Leitrim had a great reply with three unanswered points to move 0-11 to 1-7 clear. Liam Boland kept Tipp’s hopes alive with a good score, but it was Liam Casey’s goal in the closing stages that finally guaranteed Tipp avoided the drop with a 2-11 to 0-15 victory.