Tipperary 2-08 Kerry 2-14

Kerry beat Tipperary by six points in the Munster SFC semi-final in Thurles.

The hosts put up a spirited showing against the Munster and All-Ireland champions but paid the price for a tally of 13 wides, including eight in the second half. 

On a day when Colm 'Gooch' Cooper marked his return to championship action, the Kingdom turned up the heat in the second half to set up a Munster final with old rivals Cork on 5 July. 

Kerry led by just two points at the break but reeled off five unanswered scores to effectively kill the game, before Tipp scored their first point of the second half in the 51st minute.

Kerry won the second half by 0-08 to 0-04 and that was good enough on a day when ‘Gooch’ scored 0-03, including two from play.

And the depth of Kerry’s panel was illustrated by the subs they brought on in the second half, with Fitzmaurice introducing the likes of James O’Donoghue, Darren O’Sullivan, Donnchadh Walsh and former AFL star Tommy Walsh.

But Tipp will look back on this one with regrets after racking up a total of 13 wides, compared to just five from Kerry.

The winners led by 2-06 to 2-04 at half-time, in front of a bumper 11,248 attendance.

Throw-in was delayed by 15 minutes as just the New Stand side of the pitch was open, with fans making their way across to the Old Stand by the Town End terrace.

When the game eventually got under way, Kerry found themselves 0-00 to 1-01 behind within four minutes, as Tipp got the start they craved.

Colin O’Riordan, who was clearly struggling later in the game with a hip injury, popped over the opening point before Michael Quinlivan brilliantly slipped a fourth-minute goal past Brendan Kealy, with Conor Sweeney providing a defence-splitting pass.

Kerry’s first score arrived in the fifth minute, courtesy of Bryan Sheehan, and a feature of their first-half play was the economy of shooting.

Tipp finished the half with five wides, four of those within the opening four minutes, but Kerry didn’t register a wide until the 35th minute.

The Kingdom took the lead for the first time in the 18th minute when Evan Comerford’s kickout, intended for Steven O’Brien, went awry.

Kerry were quick to exploit the opening and a slick exchange of passes presented Barry John Keane with the goal in his first ever senior championship start, despite 18 previous substitute appearances.

O’Brien was lucky to escape a black card before Cooper scored a point from play in the 20th minute, a score greeted with a huge roar by the travelling Kerry hordes.

Sheehan added a point to put Kerry 1-05 to 1-02 clear and they were six ahead when 2014 All-Ireland final goal hero Paul Geaney netted on the half-hour mark.

Jonathan Lyne’s diagonal ball from the right touchline caused panic in the Tipp full-back line and Geaney was on hand to provide a delicate, close-range finish.

Tipp could have folded then but instead replied in kind at the other end, Austin feeding Quinlivan for his second goal of the game.

Sweeney and Cooper traded frees before Jason Lonergan’s fisted point kept Tipp very much in touch at the midway point.

But Kerry took over in the second half, although Tipp had a great goal chance in the 57th minute.

Ger Mulhaire found himself one-on-one with Brendan Kealy but the Kerry netminder pulled off a superb save.

TIPPERARY: E Comerford; P Codd, C McDonald, R Kiely; S Kennedy, P Acheson, A Campbell; S O’Brien, G Hannigan; C O’Riordan (0-01), P Austin, G Mulhaire (0-01); C Sweeney (0-02f), M Quinlivan (2-00), B Fox (0-01).

Subs: J Lonergan (0-01) for Kiely (31), B Grogan (0-1f) for Hannigan (h.t.), K O’Halloran (0-01, 45) for Austin (54), L Casey for Fox (65), B Mulvihill for Sweeney (65), A Morrissey for Kennedy (70).

KERRY: B Kealy; M Ó’Sé, M Griffin, S Enright; J Lyne, P Crowley, K Young; A Maher (0-01), B Sheehan (0-05, 3f); M Geaney (0-01), C Cooper (0-3, 1f), J Buckley; P Geaney (1-02), K Donaghy, B.J. Keane (1-01).

Subs: S O’Brien (0-01) for Buckley (33), J O’Donoghue for Keane (48), A O’Mahony for Crowley (49), D O’Sullivan for M Geaney (53), D Walsh for Sheehan (62), T Walsh for Maher (67).

Referee: Ciaran Branagan (Down)