By Jackie Cahill at Sean Treacy Park, Tipperary Town
TIPPERARY senior football team manager Peter Creedon admitted that Kerry fully deserved to win last Saturday’s McGrath Cup final at Sean Treacy Park in Tipperary town.
The Kingdom claimed the McGrath cup for the third time in four seasons with a comfortable seven-point victory.
Tipp’s bid to win this competition for the first time since 2003 fell short in front of 839 spectators.
Creedon reflected: “It was a very difficult game in difficult conditions. Kerry were better than us. We can’t have any complaints about that.
“We missed a good few good chances in the second half.
“We could have got to within three, that was our aim, with five minutes to go but we didn’t.
“We played very well for the first quarter of an hour but then they got a goal on the breakaway. But the McGrath Cup has been good to us and we’re happy enough with the three games.
“We found out a lot about players – we had a good campaign, two good wins and there were reasonable parts about today as well.”
Creedon insisted that Tipp’s opening two League fixtures, against Carlow next Sunday and Waterford six days later, are “way more important” than the McGrath Cup final.
And he stated: “We have to get promotion, that’s it, win all seven games.
“The next two games are way more important.”
This was Tipp’s second successive McGrath Cup final defeat but Creedon is correct to state that this defeat pales into insignificance when compared with next Sunday’s Allianz National Football League Division 4 opener against Carlow.
It would have been nice to win the McGrath Cup, of course, but Tipp have to get out of Division 4.
And to achieve that, Tipp need to get off to a good start against Carlow, before the trip to Waterford on Saturday week.
The League campaign will prepare Creedon’s men for the Munster SFC quarter-final against Kerry at Fitzgerald Stadium, Killarney, on May 26.
And maybe last Saturday’s early season reality check might be just what Tipp needed.
A shock McGrath Cup quarter-final victory over Cork was followed by a hard-fought semi-final win against Waterford but Tipp were brought back down to earth by classy Kerry.
Admittedly, Tipp fielded a youthful attack, with 2011 All-Ireland minor medallists Steven O’Brien, Philip Quirke, Bill Maher and Liam McGrath all named in the starting line-up.
Overall, Creedon would have hoped for a better performance from his side but weather conditions made life difficult too.
Kerry won the toss and elected to play with the breeze but Tipp were doing ok for the first quarter of an hour.
Barry Grogan, who had scored 2-12 in his previous two matches, kicked the hosts ahead in the first minute but the Kingdom responded to lead by 0-3 to 0-1 by the 14th minute.
Eamonn Fitzmaurice’s charges broke through for a crucial goal two minutes later as man of the match and former Allstar Darran O’Sullivan finished clinically after Anthony Maher and Paul Geaney had created the chance.
Grogan responded with a 22nd minute free but all through the game, Tipp struggled badly for scores.
They failed to score from play in the first half and almost 47 minutes had elapsed before Grogan scored Tipp’s first point from play.
Another followed soon after from 2011 minor captain McGrath but that was the sum total of Tipp’s contribution from play.
In contrast, Kerry had eight players on the scoresheet and at half-time, they had the game effectively won.
The Kingdom led by 1-7 to 0-2 at the break and the pick of the first half scores was a quite superb point from O’Sullivan in the 27th minute from the stand side touchline.
In defence, the Ó’Sé brothers Marc and Tomás ensured that the door remained firmly locked as Tipp struggled to break through, while midfielders Anthony Maher and Bryan Sheehan reigned supreme.
Marc Ó’Sé was doing a fine man-marking job on Tipp dangerman Grogan and overall, Kerry’s greater craft and experience was telling.
After half-time, they continued to pile on the pressure, despite the fact that they were now playing into the breeze.
The impressive Paul Geaney, Patrick Curtin and O’Sullivan hit three points without reply to kickstart the second half for Kerry, before Grogan pointed in the 47th minute.
McGrath added another point for Tipp as they enjoyed their best spell of the game.
Grogan pulled a free that he would normally convert wide in the 55th minute and a minute later, Hugh Coghlan forced a fine save from Kerry goalkeeper Brendan Kealy.
But Kealy erred from the resultant 45 as Barry Grogan’s effort somehow ended up in the back of the Kerry net.
It was a freakish goal to bring Tipp to within six points – 1-4 to 1-10 – but Kerry’s response was immediate as Geaney and Curtin exchanged a one-two before Geaney popped over a lovely score.
The final ten minutes of the game yielded just two points as Grogan and Geaney traded frees, before referee James Bermingham blew for full-time to confirm Kerry’s win.
Scorers for Kerry: D O’Sullivan (1-3, 0-1f), P Geaney 0-3 (1f), T Ó’Sé, A Maher, B Sheehan (f), M Geaney, M O’Donoghue & P Curtin 0-1 each.
Scorers for Tipperary: B Grogan 1-4 (1-0 45, 0-3f), L McGrath 0-1.
Kerry: B Kealy; M Ó’Sé, A O’Mahony, S Enright; J Lyne, J Sherwood, T Ó’Sé; A Maher, B Sheehan; M Geaney, D O’Sullivan, M O’Donoghue; B.J. Keane, P Curtin, P Geaney. Subs: D Culhane for Sherwood (47), A Garnett for Sheehan (57), B.J. Walsh for Keane (57), P Murphy for Lyne (58), B Kelliher for O’Donoghue (59).
Tipperary: Paul Fitzgerald (Fethard); Andrew Morrissey (Galtee Rovers), Paddy Codd (Killenaule), John Coghlan (Moyne-Templetuohy); Brian Fox (Éire Óg Annacarty), Seamus Kennedy (Clonmel Commercials), Ciarán McDonald (Aherlow); George Hannigan (Shannon Rovers), Lorcan Egan (JK Brackens); Steven O’Brien (Ballina), Philip Quirke (Moyle Rovers), Bill Maher (Kilsheelan-Kilcash); Liam McGrath (Loughmore-Castleiney), Barry Grogan (Aherlow), Conor Sweeney (Ballyporeen). Subs: Hugh Coghlan (Portlaoise, Laois) for Egan (h.t.), Alan Campbell (Moyle Rovers) for Kennedy (h.t.), Bernard O’Brien (Aherlow) for S O’Brien (53), Brian Jones (Arravale Rovers) for Hannigan (59), Aldo Matassa (Clonmel Commercials) for Sweeney (67).
Referee: James Bermingham (Cork).