Conor Sweeney's penalty goal in the 31st minute proved decisive as Tipperary took a major step to avoid relegation when beating Offaly in Division 3 of the Allianz Football League at Semple Stadium today.

The penalty was awarded after Tipp’s Michael Quinlivan was dragged down as he pounced on the rebound of his shot for goal and Sweeney calmly slotted the resultant penalty to the net to give his side a deserved half-time led of 1-08 to 0-09.

Tipp were the more competitive from the start and with Conor Sweeney and Jack Kennedy starring, they led 0-05 to 0-03 at the first water break.

They could have been further ahead at half-time but Kevin O'Halloran had two attempts at goal charged down from the Offaly kick-out after the penalty incident.

With their chances of staying in the promotion frame in jeopardy, Offaly stepped up their game in the second-half but Tipperary held firm as the sides shared eight points up to the second water break.

Leading 1-12 to 0-13 entering the last quarter, Tipperary, who had lost midfield star Stephen O'Brien to injury after 23 mins, suffered a further setback when Jack Kennedy was black-carded in the 53rd minute. Despite being a man short, they kept their composure and out-pointed Offaly three to one before Kennedy’s return.

Offaly threw everything into attack in the closing minutes but Tipperary controlled possession to deny the Faithful scoring opportunities and finished comfortable winners.

It was a big win for Tipperary who now draw level on points with Offaly with one round to play. For Offaly however, the loss of the points ends their chances of promotion and they could now be dragged into the relegation battle with Louth and Leitrim who are propping up the league table.

Despite his black card Jack Kennedy had a big game for Tipperary and he, with Kevin Fahey, Michael Quinlivan, Conor Sweeney, Jimmy Feehan, and sub Liam Boland were the key men in this victory.

Offaly never really played to their potential and were chasing the game all through. John Moloney, Bernard Allen, Peter Cunningham, Niall Darby and Eoin Rigney were their top performers.

Tipperary: E Comerford; A Campbell, J Feehan, C O Shaughnessy; B Maher, K Fahey, R Kiely; S O Brien (0-01), L Casey(0-02); J Kennedy(0-03), M Quinlivan(0-02), P Austin; K O Halloran(0-01), C Sweeney(1-05,pen, 2fs,)C Ryan

Subs: B Fox for O Brien 23, R Quigley for Ryan ht, L Boland (0-02) for Austin 45 mins, J Lonergan for O Halloran 52, E Moloney for Maher 64mins.

Offaly: P Dunican; D Hogan, E Rigney, N Darby; E Carroll (0-01), J Moloney (0-01),C Donohue; A Leavy, J Hayes; S Horan, R McNamee (0-01),C Mangan (0-01);C Farrell (0-04,4f),P Cunningham (0-03,1f), B Allen (0-02)

Subs: A Sullivan (0-01) for Donohue ht, C Doyle for Leavy ht, N McNamee (0-01) for Farrell 50, C McNamee (0-01) for Mangan 59, R Egan for Moloney 69.

Referee: D Murnane (Cork).