Electric Ireland Munster
Tipperary 6-21 Kerry 0-11
No contest! Tipperary’s minor hurlers completely outclassed hapless Kerry at Semple Stadium on Wednesday evening last to book their place in next month’s Munster semi-final, but the management team learned little from this lop-sided encounter.
Anything other than a big Tipperary win would have raised eyebrows, but it must be acknowledged that Tipperary did all that was asked of them in an encounter played in ideal conditions but watched by only a handful of spectators.
Despite a brisk opening by Kerry, which saw them score first inside twenty seconds and reel off five points in the opening ten minutes, Tipperary’s win was never in doubt after Kevin Slattery waltzed through the Kerry defence for Tipperary’s first goal in the second minute to give Tipperary a lead they surrendered only briefly when Kerry drew level 1-2 to 0-5 in the 10th minute.
From there, however, it was all downhill for Kerry as Tipp’s attack ran riot. Two Jack Shelly points restored Tipperary’s lead before John McGrath set up Mark McCarthy for his first goal in the 13th minute.
Three further unanswered Tipp points followed before McCarthy punished poor Kerry defending with his second goal. There was no let-up and at the interval Tipperary were home and dried leading 3-10 to 0-5 with Kerry having failed to raise a flag after their lively start.
Kerry again had the first point of the second half, but once more the Tipperary scoring machine clicked into gear. In the 36th minute John McGrath’s penalty made it to the Kerry net and two minutes later Mark McCarthy completed his hat-trick.
It didn’t stop there as in the 42nd minute, team captain, Bill Maher surged through from midfield for goal number six. Stephen Cahill whipped over three points as Tipp pushed on and to add to Kerry’s woes they had defender Tom McElligott red-carded two minutes from time.
By then it was really of no consequence as Kevin Slattery applied the finishing touch with a pointed free, a minute from time, for a whopping 28-point win for the home county.
Ballingarry’s William Maher was pleased to have started his inter-county managerial career on a winning note, but he knows well that not too much weight attaches to what was a bloodless victory. Sterner tests lie ahead with the visit of Waterford for the semi-final on June 29th with Waterford having come through a severe test against highly-rated Clare which went to extra time last week.
Tipperary would have welcomed a more serious examination of their credentials, but the questions put to them by Kerry were answered emphatically. Encouraging too that the Tipp lads kept pushing forward even when the competitive element had left the game. Clearly, the focus is right, but, as stated, bigger fish will determine if the quality is there to follow through.
In a defence, which was not unduly stretched, Michael Breen, Ronan Maher and Tom Kirwan caught the eye. Centre-back Thomas Hamill picked up an injury which forced his second half withdrawal. Bill Maher and Sean Nally had to be on their toes as they were pitted against a lively Kerry combination Daniel Collins and Brendan O’Leary.
Toomevara’s Mark McCarthy topped the scoring honours with a hat-trick of goals, but all-round the attack shaped well with Stephen Cahill, John McGrath and Kevin Slattery also popping up for well-taken scores.
One had to have sympathy for a Kerry contingent who were simply out of their depth.
To their credit they battled all the way, but the game was well-beyond them by the interval.
Jason Wallace did well in goal despite seeing six pass him. Daniel Collins, Brendan O’Leary, Michael O’Leary, and Ricky Heffernan were always in the thick of things, but fighting a lost cause.
Tipperary: Paul Maher (Moyne-Templetuohy); Luke Mullaly (Mullinahone), Michael Breen (Ballina), Jack Peters (Kilruane MacDonagh’s); Ronan Maher (Thurles Sarsfields), Thomas Hamill (Killea), Tom Kirwan (Ballybacon-Grange); Bill Maher (Kilsheelan-Kilcash, 1-1), Sean Nally (Holycross-Ballycahill); Dylan Fitzell (Cashel King Cormacs, 0-1); Jack Shelly (Mullinahone 0-3), Stephen Cahill (Thurles Sarsfields, 0-4); Mark McCarthy (Toomevara, 3-1), John McGrath (Loughmore-Castleiney, 1-6, 1-3 frees), Kevin Slattery (Gortnahoe-Glengoole, 1-4, 0-2 frees). Subs: Steven O’Brien (Ballina) for Shelly; Jack Loughnane (Kildangan, 0-1) for Hamill; Tadgh Gallagher (Kildangan) for McCarthy; Sean Ryan (Sean Treacy’s) for McGrath; Jason Lonergan (St Mary’s, Clonmel) for B Maher.
Kerry: J Wallace; F Horgan, K Skinner, K Carmody; T McElligott, D Fitzell, T Casey (Causeway); D Collins (0-2), B O’Leary (0-2); M O Leary (0-3), T Casey (Ballyheigue), K Fitzgerald; P McGrath, R Heffernan (0-4), C Hussey. Subs: K Hanafin for Horgan; S Leahy for Casey (C); D Goulding for Skinner; P O Connor for Casey (B); P Lucid for Hussey.
Referee: Jason O’Mahoney (Limerick).