/ GAA

Tipperary 2-06 Kerry 2-18

Updated: Monday, 17 May 2010 18:41

Philip Austin of Tipperary scores the Premier County's first goal
Philip Austin of Tipperary scores the Premier County's first goal

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Kieran Donaghy pulled the strings for All-Ireland champions Kerry as they passed this early summer examination against Tipperary, running out 12-point winners in the end.

The 4,965-strong Thurles crowd had hopes of an upset as Tipperary ended the first half just 0-08 to 1-04 in arrears, with Philip Austin scoring a cracking early goal.

But, turning with the wind, the Kingdom hit their stride in the second period to cruise through to a semi-final showdown with Munster title holders Cork on 6 June.

Bryan Sheehan netted twice and Colm Cooper, Donaghy and Barry John Keane all had an influence, putting the game beyond a brave Tipp‘s reach.

John Evans’ young side also finished the game with 14 players as top scorer Barry Grogan was harshly dismissed for his second bookable offence - a mistimed challenge on Kerry substitute Adrian O’Connell.

Kerry started their Championship campaign without five of last year’s All-Ireland winning side, following the retirements of Darragh O Se and Diarmuid Murphy, the departures of Tommy Walsh and Tadhg Kennelly to Australia and Aidan O’Mahony’s recent withdrawal from the panel.

Kerry boss Jack O’Connor still fielded an enviably strong line-up, with goalkeeper Brendan Kealy the only Championship debutant. Tipp, managed by Kerry native Evans, had two newcomers to this level in wing back Ciaran McGrath and wing forward Peter Acheson.

The visitors hit the front after a minute and 20 seconds, Donaghy turning inside two defenders to land the opening point.

But Tipperary, boosted by their Under-21s’ recent win over Kerry, levelled with a ‘45’ from Grogan and took a seventh minute lead when Austin beat Kealy with a measured finish.

Hugh Coghlan played the ball through for the pacy centre-forward to evade Tom O’Sullivan’s challenge and crack a rasping right-footed shot to the bottom left corner of the net.

Acheson landed a point soon after but Kerry were back level at 1-02 to 0-05 by the quarter hour mark, with the returning Mike McCarthy hovering up plenty of kick-outs in an advanced role.

Cooper (0-03) and Paul Galvin got Kerry back on terms, but they should have been in front. Sheehan had a 14th minute goal disallowed for an illegal hand pass from Donaghy, a decision that may well have gone for Kerry on another day.

The sides were level for a third time as Sheehan (free) cancelled out a George Hannigan effort from play, and despite coming under increasing pressure, Tipp were able to hold their own.

Their goalkeeper Paul Fitzgerald blocked a goal-bound effort from Donaghy and the Tralee giant had two wides in quick succession as the Tipp rearguard did their job in frustrating Kerry’s fluent forwards.

Cooper watched a point attempt bounce back off the post, and the Premier County side went back in front when a strong burst in from the left from Austin set up a Brian Mulvihill point.

Kerry continued to have the lion’s share of possession and they were rewarded for their persistence in the closing stages of the half as pointed efforts from Sheehan and Galvin put them ahead - 0-08 to 1-04.

There was a sense that Kerry would go through the gears when the action resumed in the second half and gradually that is the way it played out. Sheehan hit the woodwork with a point attempt, but Cooper traded points with Grogan as O’Connor’s charges kept ahead.

Donaghy, as a target man, played a key role in most of Kerry’s advance. After Declan O’Sullivan had fisted over and Grogan pointed at the other end, Kerry’s full-forward showed his worth when tapping down a high ball for the hard-working Donnacha Walsh to slot over.

Sheehan added a free and then collected his first goal. The Tipp defence was caught out in the 47th minute as Tomas O Se and McCarthy raided forward, the latter’s point attempt failed to find the target but Donaghy scooped the ball over for Sheehan to slip a low shot to the net for a 1-12 to 1-06 scoreline.

Tipp rallied superbly and were unfortunate not to close the gap as Austin went wide from a kickable free and Kealy had to be on his toes to block a snap shot from Acheson.

They did manage to whittle Kerry’s lead down to three points when the Kerry net minder was beaten to a high ball by Grogan for Tipp’s second goal in the 52nd minute.

But Evans’ side failed to score as Kerry tightened their grip on proceedings and the excellent Donaghy gave an exhibition of high fielding.

Sheehan (0-02) and Seamus Scanlon cancelled out the goal and then a terrific catch from Donaghy set up a point for substitute Keane who quickly added his second point as increasing amounts of space appeared in the Tipp defence.

Five minutes from the finish, another top drawer catch and feed by Donaghy teed up Sheehan for a drilled finish to the bottom left corner of Fitzgerald’s net, with Keane involved in the build-up.

Cooper added Kerry’s final point in injury-time as they wrapped up a businesslike performance during which they showed glimpses of their class.

Tipp have a long wait to the first round of the All-Ireland qualifiers on 26 June and their search for a first Munster Championship win since 2003 goes on, but they can be proud of their efforts here and Evans has plenty of potential to build on.

Scorers:

Tipperary: B Grogan 1-03 (0-01 ‘45’), P Austin 1-00, P Acheson, G Hannigan, B Mulvihill 0-01 each

Kerry: B Sheehan 2-05 (0-04f), C Cooper 0-05 (0-01f), P Galvin, BJ Keane 0-02 each, K Donaghy, Declan O’Sullivan, D Walsh, S Scanlon 0-01 each

TIPPERARY: P Fitzgerald; P Codd, N Curran, C McDonald; C Aylward, R Costigan (capt), C McGrath; K Mulryan, G Hannigan; P Acheson, P Austin, H Coghlan; S Carey, B Grogan, B Mulvihill.

Subs used: B Fox for Coghlan (13-20 mins, blood sub), B Fox for Mulvihill (44), B Coen for Carey (55), J Cagney for Austin (61), B Jones for Aylward (66), A Morrisey for McGrath (70).

KERRY: B Kealy; M O Se, T Griffin, T O’Sullivan; T O Se, M McCarthy, K Young; S Scanlon, M Quirke; P Galvin, Declan O’Sullivan, D Walsh; C Cooper, K Donaghy, B Sheehan (capt).

Subs used: P Reidy for T O’Sullivan (45 mins), Darran O’Sullivan for Galvin, A Maher for Quirke (both 56), A O’Connell for Young (61), BJ Keane for Declan O’Sullivan (62).

Referee: David Coldrick (Meath)

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