Longford will play Division 3 football for the seventh successive year in 2022 after they outclassed a lacklustre Tipperary side at Glennon Brothers Pearse Park.
The game was finely poised at 0-08 each in the 49th minute, with the strong breeze now favouring the Munster champions, when the game swung decisively in favour of Padraic Davis' side.
Tipperary had just drawn level thanks to consecutive scores from half-backs Kevin Fahey and Padraic Looram, and momentum was on their side.
Tipp had controlled the aerial battle at midfield, winning a series of excellent marks, but David McGivney found a pocket of space on the left wing and Paddy Collum placed the ball right onto the Mullinalaghta man's hands.
The ball was worked down to Rian Brady, who played a sublime pass into the hands of Dessie Reynolds, and a low shot later, Longford were three points to the good.
They could have added another goal when Reynolds set up Robbie Smyth, but crucially they added the next point and from then on, Tipperary had no answer.
Tipperary’s high-profile forwards were kept completely in check – no Premier forward scored from play all day – and Longford monopolised possession for the final 20 minutes, gradually adding scores and increasing the gap between the sides to the point of no return.
There was no stage in the contest when Tipp were the better team, but they stayed in contention throughout the first half through strong play at midfield and good game management.
Michael Quinlivan returned to the side for his first start of the year but neither he nor Conor Sweeney got any leeway from an excellent Longford full-back line, so it fell to Sweeney to kick four of their five first-half points from dead balls.
Longford were far more potent up front, though they too struggled close to goal. Brady’s opening score was the only one that their full forward line kicked from play, though two each from Joseph Hagan, Reynolds and Darren Gallagher gave them a 0-07 to 0-05 interval lead.
For five minutes either side of half time, Quinlivan was in the sin bin for Tipperary and it looked as if Longford might live to regret their failure to take advantage of their extra man during this period.
Paudie Feehan showed the value of the breeze when he split the posts from distance for the first score of the second half while Robbie Smyth’s lack of form and uncharacteristic inaccuracy up front meant that the home side failed to push on, despite enjoying plenty of possession.
Fahey and Looram’s scores, both from close range, suggested that Tipperary were poised and ready to make their experience and their scoring power tell.
Instead, we got a masterclass from Longford in how to play clever, simple football that took the elements and Tipperary’s strengths out of the game, resulting in a vital win for the Leinster county and a lot of soul searching down in the heart of Munster.
Longford: Paddy Collum; Patrick Fox, Andrew Farrell, CP Smyth; Iarla O’Sullivan, Mickey Quinn, Dessie Reynolds (1-02); David McGivney (0-01), Darren Gallagher (0-03, 2f, 1 '45); Joseph Hagan (0-02), Kevin Diffley, Enda Macken; Robbie Smyth, Larry Moran, Rian Brady (0-03, 2f).
Subs: Darragh Doherty (0-01) for Moran (ht), Oran Kenny (0-01) for R Smyth (53), Donal McElligott for Reynolds (66), Peter Lynn for Hagan (70).
Tipperary: Evan Comerford; Shane O’Connell, Alan Campbell, Colm O’Shaughnessy; Padraic Looram (0-01), Kevin Fahey (0-01), Daire Brennan; Steven O’Brien (0-01), Paudie Feehan (0-01); Conor Bowe, Jack Kennedy, Emmet Maloney; Michael Quinlivan, Conor Sweeney (0-04, 4f), Philip Ryan.
Subs: Jimmy Feehan for Campbell (12), Brian Fox for Ryan (43mins), Shane Foley for O’Brien (54), Colman Kennedy for Brennan (55), Jason Lonergan for Moloney (57), Seán O’Connor (0-01f) for Bowe (62), Mark O’Meara for Looram (62), Liam Boland for Quinlivan (67).
Referee: Seamus Mulhare (Laois).