By Michael Dundon
Munster Senior Football
Kerry 0-16 Tipperary 0-10
Rank Outsiders Tipperary delivered an encouraging performance in the Munster senior football quarter-final at Semple stadium, on Sunday but it was not enough to stop a below-par Kerry side from securing a semi-final spot against Cork.
Having suffered relegation in the National League for the past two seasons, having lost a number of players to emigration, and having had to change the management team in mid-term, Tipperary’s aspirations reached no further than giving a decent performance.
This they gave, and much more, and the hope of Manager Peter Creedon is that his charges will get a less daunting draw in the All-Ireland qualifiers to enable them to build on the many positives in this outing.
And there were many positives, not least the composure shown by the players who were never over-awed by a Kerry combination with serious national and provincial title ambitions. Indeed it is to Tipp’s credit that Kerry Manager, Jack O Connor, was forced to call All-Star Kieran Donaghy off the bench, in the second half as Tipperary threatened to reel in the opposition, but the introduction of the Austin Stacks man, who was left off for disciplinary reasons, restored the initiative to Kerry who were comfortably six points clear at the finish.
That said too, while there is no disputing the merit of the Kerry win, the margin separating the sides at the end might have been considerably less had Tipperary taken some gilt-edged point chances, including a twenty meter free which came off the upright. Against sides of the calibre of Kerry, you cannot afford such lapses, and though Kerry themselves were erratic in their finishing, one always felt there was another gear in them if it was required.
Tipperary set out their stall early on, working hard to curtail the Kerry forward movements generated by their dominance at midfield, and countering effectively. Ten minutes into the game, the home side were ahead,0-3 to 0-1, Michael Quinlivan(free), Alan Moloney and Peter Acheson registering the points in response to Kerry’s opener from Brian Sheehan.
Kerry’s finishing left something to be desired and by the 22nd minute, after Philip Austin’s fisted point, the sides were left at 0-4 each.
Then came the period which essentially set the tone of the game, as Kerry reeled off five unanswered points between the 22nd and 30th minutes to put them firmly in control. Tipp were now left to chase the game, and a couple of wides did not help the cause, but coming up to the break, Tipperary enjoyed a productive spell, Quinlivan and Moloney pointing to leave the home side three points adrift at the break, 0-6 to 0-9.
Significantly, Tipperary were to have the breeze with them in the second half, and by the 43rd minute the lead was down to two points, Alan Moloney, twice, and Hugh Coghlan pointing in response to Brian Sheehan’s effort for Kerry.
Coghlan’s score might well have been a goal, as, having been set up by Shane Scully, his searing shot in the 43rd minute went over the bar.
The home crowd were getting right behind the Tipp lads and though a Sheehan free edged Kerry further ahead, their concern was reflected in the introduction of Donaghy as one of three subs to be brought on in the space of a few minutes.
Donaghy replaced Paul Galvin and immediately adopted a roving commission, popping up at fullback on one occasion to head off a Tipperary surge. His experience steadied Kerry who shot three points in five minutes to go five clear.
Tipperary were not giving up. Peter Acheson, who had a smashing game, pointed to keep the pressure on but sub, James O Donoghue, and Sheehan added Kerry points to ease them across the line. Philip Austin’s injury time surge for a goal which was stopped, would have been no more than a consolation, but it was indicative of the never-say-die spirit of the team.
So Tipperary face into the qualifiers with morale boosted by this encouraging performance. The quality of their play, and their willingness to work their socks off, won them many admirers with Brian Fox in particular personifying the spirit and determination of the squad. He saw off no less a ”star” than Kerry’s Paul Galvin, withdrawn in the second half, and his penetrating forward runs caused Kerry many problems.
He was not alone. Peter Acheson, Alan Moloney and Philip Austin also worked extremely hard while Hugh Coghlan came right into his own in the second half.
Paddy Codd had a fine outing in defence while Andrew Morrissey had to be happy with holding his man scoreless until the Kerry man was withdrawn.
Kerry will look on this outing as “mission accomplished” , and as they face up to Cork in the Munster semi-final will seek a higher gear for that game.
There is no doubt but that Manager O Connor will make changes, as this level of performance would not be good enough against the Leesiders.
Key men for them were Kieran Donaghy when he came on, Tomas O Se, Bryan Sheehan, Anrthony Maher, Darren O Sullivan and Colm Coopeer, while newcomer Daniel Bohan did well at fullback.
Kerry – B Kealy; S Enright, D Bohan, K Young; T O Se(0-1), E Brosnan, P Crowley; A Maher(0-1), B Sheehan (0-6, 5fs); P Galvin, Darren O Sullivan(0-1), K O Leary(0-1); C Cooper(0-4,2fs), Declan O Sullivan(0-1), P Curtin; Subs- K Donaghy for Galvin; B Maguire for Young; J O DOnoghue(0-1) for O Leary; A O Mahoney for Brosnan;
Tipperary – Paul Fitzgerald; Andrew Morrissey, Paddy Codd, Ciaran McDonald; Brian Fox, Robbie Costigan, Alan Campbell; George Hannigan, Hugh Coghlan(0-1); Lorcan Egan, Peter Acheson(0-2), Shane Scully; Alan Moloney(0-4, 3fs), Michael Quinlivan(0-2, 2fs), Philip Austin (0-1); Subs- Donagh Leahy for Costigan; Richie Ryan for Scully; Donal Lynch for Egan; Bernard O Brien for Quinlivan; Aldo Matassa for Hannigan;
Ref- Marty Duffy, Sligo.