Walsh turns it on as Kerry book Cork date

TOMMY WALSH underlined his potential with a magnificent display as Kerry defeated Limerick in this Munster U21 football championship quarter-final at Tralee on Saturday.

Named at centre-forward, Walsh went to the edge of the Limerick square and kicked five superb points as Kerry advanced to a semi-final meeting with All-Ireland champions Cork next Saturday.

Kerry, who have lost their last three provincial first round games, looked nervous in the opening half, but after the break were a class apart as Killian Young, David Moran and Walsh showed their class.

Coach Sean Geaney admitted: “I wasn’t happy with our first-half display. Defensively we were all over the place and you have to give the Limerick forwards credit for that. We won a lot of ball around midfield and our attack did well enough but we were unlucky some of our passing was off.

“On another day we could have bagged two goals had the last pass been spot on. Half-time gave us the chance to do some straight talking and credit to the lads they upped the performance in the second half.”

He said of Walsh, son of Kerry All-Ireland winner Sean: “When you have a target man like Tommy Walsh in at full-forward, it was important that we hit him every time we got the chance. Tommy used his height and strength to great effect and made a major contribution to the victory with his five points.”

Stressed Geaney: “I would hate to think we are a one man team. There were others out there who played extremely well on the day. There was no question of under-estimated Limerick. Most of our lads were involved in the defeat by Clare last year and didn’t have to be told about Limerick. All counties are now putting in the work and it shows in the way they play.

“In Kerry the pressure is huge not to just win first round matches but to win titles.”

It was clear that Limerick had a lot of preparation done and they got the dream start when Jimmy Barry-Murphy ran onto Michael Quilligan’s pass to goal after three minutes. The aerial dominance of Moran ensured Kerry won the midfield battle and with Mike O’Donoghue benefiting enormously in a switch with Walsh, the Spa man kicked over three points and only a superb save by ‘keeper Ger Ryan at the expense of a point, denied him a goal.

The Kerry defence was given a torrid time in that opening half by some excellent play from Barry Murphy, James Ryan and Ian Ryan as Limerick enjoyed a 1-6 to 0-7 lead. Moments before the interval Kerry were awarded a dubious penalty for an alleged leg block, but justice was done when Paul O’Connor’s effort went wide and the visitors retained that two point lead at the break.

Kerry upped the tempo on the restart with their outside forwards hitting Walsh at every opportunity, the big O’Rahillys man began to find the target. With Eoin Murphy doing an excellent marking job on Barry Murphy and Killian Young staying closer to his goal, the Limerick threat began to wane. Kerry’s dominance was reflected in 11 points with Walsh and Moran the main marksmen while Limerick’s only second half score came on 34 minutes.

Scorers for Kerry: T. Walsh 0-5; M. O’Donoghue, P. O’Connor (0-3 frees) 0-4 each; D. Moran 0-3 (0-1 free); B. Looney, J. Buckley 0-1 each.

Limerick: J. Barry Murphy 1-1; I. Ryan 0-3 (0-1 free); M. Scannell 0-2; N. Mulvihill, J. Collins 0-1 each.

KERRY: T. Mac an tSaoir; C. O’Mahony, M. Moloney, E. Murphy; Aidan O’Sullivan, K. Young, S. Enright; D. Moran, Alan O’Sullivan; P. Curran, T. Walsh, B. Looney; K. O’Leary, M. O’Donoghue, P. O’Connor.

Subs: J. Buckley for Curran; J. Doolan for Looney; K. Brennan for Alan O’Sullivan; E. O’Neill for Aidan O’Sullivan; G. Sayers for O’Donoghue.

LIMERICK: G. Ryan; L. Martin, M. McCormack, M. Dowling; K. Nolan, E. Joy, G. Collins; L. Kavanagh, P. Corrigan; J. Barry Murphy, J. Ryan, M. Scannell; M. Quilligan, I. Ryan, N. Mulvihill.

Subs: E. Hogan for Quilligan; M. Kelly for Scannell; A. O’Neill for Mulvihill; D. Dalton for M. Kelly; D. Finnerty for Nolan.

Referee: D. O’Mahony (Tipperary)

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