Tipperary 1-8 Kerry 1-19
KERRY saw off the challenge of a disappointing Tipperary in the Munster semi-final clash at Semple Stadium in Thurles on Saturday evening to book a provincial final date with Cork in a fortnight.
Tipperary went into the game as reigning Munster champions but in reality, they never really looked like gaining their first win in the championship over Kerry since 1928.
Sharpshooter Sean O’Shea opened the scoring for Kerry, with a typically well struck pointed free from the deck in the 3rd minute, but Tipperary’s deployment of a double sweeper ensured that Kerry were not to get the barnstorming start they got against Clare in the previous round, and indeed Tipp full-forward Conor Sweeney levelled matters with a free of his own in the 10th minute after a purposeful run upfield by wing-back Bill Maher had forced the foul.
However, O’Shea kicked another placed ball in the 12th minute, and Kerry finally cut loose in the 14th minute when David Clifford crashed a trademark bullet of a left-foot strike past Evan Comerford from 20m after a brilliant penetrating run from deep from wing-back Gavin White, and when Paul Geaney and O’Shea popped over further points to leave Kerry leading 1-4 to 0-1 at the water break, Tipp looked in deep trouble.
Premier centre back Kevin Fahey launched over a superb point in the 19th minute and Jack Kennedy added another in the 21st, but O’Shea kept punishing their indiscipline down the other end, to keep them at arms length.
Kerry corner-back Tom O’Sullivan was a free man in their defence, due to Tipp’s sweeper tactic, and he exploited this freedom to full effect to slot over two fine points in the 23rd and 24th minutes.
Tipp got a lifeline in the 26th minute when midfielder Jack Kennedy was dragged down when bearing down on goal and captain Sweeney slotted the resulting penalty past Shane Ryan for a much-needed goal, although slowly but surely Sean O’Shea cancelled this out with three unanswered points, and Diarmuid O’Connor kicked another stunner with his left, to leave Kerry leading 1-11 to 1-3 at the break.
Sweeney opened the second half account with a pointed free in the 36th minute, but almost immediately David Clifford cancelled the effort with one of his own from play.
Jack Kennedy drilled over a super free in the 41st minute and he had his keeper Comerford to thank for keeping Tipp’s hopes alive a minute later as he turned a Stephen O’Brien goal attempt behind for a 45 which O’Shea duly converted.
Kerry totally dominated the kick-outs at both ends and Clifford, from a free, and Killian Spillane, from play, kept the scoreboard ticking.
Any chance Tipperary had gone up in smoke in the 49th minute when they were reduced to 14 men after key attacker Michael Quinlivan was given a straight red card for a strike on Kerry’s Gavin Crowley, and four minutes later they were down to 13 when Jason Lonergan was black-carded.
The cards seemed to break the rhythm of the game, with no score from either side for ten minutes, until Sweeney eventually registered one from a rare Tipp attack in the 58th minute, only for Paudie Clifford to get on the scoresheet down the other end almost immediately.
Killian Spillane popped over another score in the 65th minute to further cement his reputation as an impact sub for Kerry, and veterans David Moran and Tommy Walsh got in on the scoring act with late efforts to seal Kerry’s Munster Final place.