Tipperary’s three in-a-row minor football title bid comes undone in Killarney

Electric Ireland Munster Minor Football Final Tipperary 0-10 Kerry 0-15

Electric Ireland Munster Minor Football Final

Tipperary 0-10 Kerry 0-15

Although Tipperary’s bid to win an historic third Munster minor final football title in-a-row at Fitzgerald Stadium in Killarney on Sunday afternoon came undone there is a sense that we have not seen the last of Charlie McKeever’s men. Indeed, this Tipperary team could have a huge say in the 2013 All-Ireland series.

Ultimately Kerry were deserving winners of this provincial final, but there were several caveats to this result - most notably the dismissal of Josh Keane for two bookable offences late in the opening half. Ross Mulcahy, Liam Casey, Colin O’Riordan and second half substitute Stephen Quirke were all outstanding for Tipperary. A talented Tipperary forward unit, however, failed to make a significant impression on a hard-working and well-populated Kerry defence.

In a frantic opening minute Tipperary’s Colin O’Riordan was fouled twice in quick succession and Josh Keane was presented with an opportunity to give his side the lead from a placed ball.

Jack Savage responded with a free for Kerry, but Tipperary had settled well and franked their dominance in the middle of the field when Colin O’Riordan kicked a fine point from forty-five yards in the third minute.

Two minutes later Kerry were level thanks to a fine Shane O’Connor effort while Jack Savage (free) forced the home side into the lead in the seventh minute.

Tipperary responded with three wides while points from Jack Savage (free) and Killian Spillane handed Kerry a three-point advantage in the 15th minute (0-2 to 0-5).

With Kerry funnelling huge numbers back into their defence Tipperary were forced to shoot from distance and Liam Casey landed a mighty effort in the 17th minute. Casey was on hand a minute later to accept a clever pass from Colin O’Riordan and the Cahir man struck once more from distance to leave one between them (0-4 to 0-5).

A Jack Savage free settled Kerry down once more before superb points from Michéal Burns and Conor Keane left the Kingdom nursing a 0-8 to 0-4 lead by the 22nd minute.

All the Kerry full-forward line had now registered scores. Unfortunately only Alan Tynan could manage the same feat for Tipperary during the course of the entire game.

Significantly Tipperary’s Josh Keane picked up a harsh caution in the 23rd minute and seven minutes later Keane mistimed a challenge on Mathew Flaherty and was sent off for a second bookable offence. Given the sporting nature of the contest it was bizarre to see the defending champions reduced to fourteen men. Indeed, it is incredible to note that this provincial final featured forty frees in all (Tipperary twenty-one, Kerry nineteen).

Tipperary desperately required a score prior to the half-time break and found it when Colin O’Riordan landed a fine effort from distance - half-time: Tipperary 0-5 Kerry 0-8.

No Tipperary forward had managed a point from play in the opening half and the management elected to take remedial action by introducing both Pádraig Louram and Stephen Quirke at the break.

Quirke made a significant impression at centre-forward thereafter. Indeed, in the 31st and 32nd minutes Quirke sparked the moves which ultimately drew fouls from the Kerry defence and Alan Tynan gladly converted to leave one between the sides.

A minute later Quirke was on the ball once more. This time a driving run from the Moyle Rovers man culminated when Liam Casey landed his third point from play (0-8 apiece).

Since the dismissal of Josh Keane Tipperary had fired an encouraging four points without reply, but Jack Savage soothed the nerves of the home support with converted frees in the 35th, 41st and 43rd minutes.

Kerry now led by three (0-11 to 0-8). Tipperary were certainly piecing together good moves, but struggled to finish. Indeed, Tipperary would conclude the game with eight wides (Kerry two). Nevertheless the Premier worked tirelessly and were rewarded with an Alan Tynan point in the 45th minute. That effort represented the sole score from play for the forward unit during the entire course of the game.

Jack Savage and Colin O’Riordan then traded frees and we entered the final ten minutes with just two points between the teams (0-10 to 0-12).

Tipperary coughed up three vital scores in the 52nd, 55th and 56th minutes - Conor Keane landed the first, Jack Savage (free) the second and Jack Savage the third. And, suddenly there were five between them with time fast running out.

An exhausted Tipperary desperately tried to respond and in the 61st minute Colin O’Riordan won a terrific ball at full-forward, but Kerry ‘keeper Shane Ryan denied the JK Bracken’s man with a fine save. Corner-back Pádraig Ó Conchúir fouled the ball in his attempt to clear and Tipperary were presented with a penalty. Tipperary goalkeeper Jack Brady took responsibility for the effort, but was denied when Shane Ryan got down well to his left to make a fine save.

Tipperary: Jack Brady (Ballina), Willie Connors (Kildangan), Jimmy Feehan (Killenaule), Danny Owens (Moyle Rovers), Kevin Fahey (Clonmel Commercials), Ross Mulcahy (Moyle Rovers), Luke Boland (Moyle Rovers), Liam Casey (Cahir, 0-3), Colin O’Riordan (JK Bracken’s, captain, 0-3, 0-1 free), Paul Shanahan (Upperchurch-Drombane), Josh Keane (Golden-Kilfeacle, 0-1, 0-1 free), Ciarán Lowry (Arravale Rovers), Alan Tynan (Inane Rovers, 0-3, 0-2 frees), Tom Kirwan (Ardfinnan), Paul Maher (Kilsheelan). Subs: (HT) Pádraig Louram (Clonmel Commericals) for Paul Shanahan, (HT) Stephen Quirke (Moyle Rovers) for Luke Boland, (42nd) Pádraig White (Clonmel Commercials) for Tom Kirwan, (55th) Michael Connolly (Clonmel Commericals) for Kevin Fahey, (58th) Tommy Nolan (Drom & Inch) for Danny Owens.

Kerry: Shane Ryan, Fionán Clifford, Cathal Ó Lúing, Pádraig Ó Conchúir, Mathew Flaherty, David Foran, Robert Wharton, Greg Horan, Conor Jordan, Michéal Burns (0-1), Jack Savage (0-10, 0-8 frees), Kevin Shanahan, Conor Keane (0-2), Shane O’Connor (0-1), Killian Spillane (0-1). Subs: (23rd) Éanna Ó Conchúir for Kevin Shanahan, (HT) Brian Sugrue for Mathew Flaherty, (53rd) Tomás Ó Sé for Shane O’Connor, (60th) Tony Brosnan for Éanna Ó Conchúir.

Referee: James Bermingham (Cork).