Premier stand up to latest scrutiny

Tipperary overturned a seven-point deficit against Kerry in yesterday’s Gaelic Grounds final to retain their Electric Ireland Munster MFC crown.

The All-Ireland champions were up against it approaching half-time as the Kingdom opened up a 1-9 to 0-5 advantage, before Tipp cut the gap to five at the break.

But as manager David Power pointed out, Tipp have been in worse positions before, most notably when they trailed by 11 points against Kerry in last year’s provincial semi-final before coming from the dead to win.

It’s the first time that Tipp have achieved back-to-back provincial titles in this grade since 1935 — and also the first time Kerry have lost two Munster MFC matches in the same season — both against Tipp. The times they are a-changin’.

Bullish Kingdom boss Mickey Ned O’Sullivan insisted, however, Kerry are “reeling in” Tipperary and is optimistic about their All-Ireland quarter-finals against Mayo or Sligo.

Tipp, meanwhile, march on to a last-eight showdown with the runners-up from the West — and few would back against them.

Ultimately, it was a scoring run of 2-6 without reply that sealed victory yesterday.

Having nabbed the final two points of the first half, they opened up with a run of 2-4 as Kerry went from the 29th to 44th minutes without a score.

Ian Fahey signalled Tipp’s intent with a point 11 seconds after half-time before Colman Kennedy fisted home a brilliant 32nd minute goal.

Their second goal was scored by Tom Kirwan in the 43rd minute as the Ardfinnan corner forward finished a neat move instigated by captain Dylan Fitzelle and taken on by the industrious Greg Henry.

Tipp were now 2-11 to 1-9 clear but Kerry cut the gap back to just two points in the final minute.

The champions also had goalkeeper Evan Comerford to thank for a brilliant save as Kerry’s best forward Niall Sheehy threatened to score his second goal.

Sheehy finished with 1-4 and his 16th minute goal was a superb soccer-style effort from 18m following an error from Tipp full-back James Feehan.

Tipp went close three minutes later when Philip Quirke hit a shot off the post. Ultimately, it was Tipp’s greater levels of intensity that extricated them from a tricky situation.

“They were always going to come back at us,” said Mickey Ned.

“Their physical strength across the middle was the deciding factor. A lot of our lads are very young and they didn’t have the physique. They blew us out of it around the middle. We just couldn’t handle it but we’re getting closer.

“They deserved to win but we hope to [have another go at them]. We’re reeling them in slowly.”

Power, who has worked wonders during his time in charge, said: “In the second half, we played really well. It was very slow in the first half but we kept in there. We were unfortunate in one way but then Kerry had chances as well.

“But the second half was just awesome — they played very well. They know themselves after coming down off this that they can play a lot better.

“Kerry were very good but we have proven now that we are the best minor team in Munster over the last, I don’t know how many years. To do two in a row is an amazing achievement as well. Beating Kerry away, Cork in Cork and here today, beating Kerry — it’s just fantastic.”

Scorers for Tipperary: C Kennedy (1f), T Kirwan 1-2 each, I Fahey 0-4 (1f), S O’Brien 0-2, B Maher, J Lonergan, J Martin, P Quirke 0-1 each.

Scorers for Kerry: N Sheehy 1-4 (1f), J Savage 0-5 (4fs), C Keane 0-3, K Murphy, C Fitzgerald 0-1 each.

TIPPERARY: E Comerford; L Egan, J Feehan, D Cass; K Fahey, D Fitzelle, B Maher; S O’Brien, I Fahey; J Lonergan, J Martin, G Henry; C Kennedy, P Quirke, T Kirwan.

Subs: J Loughnane for Cass (27), C O’Riordan for Egan (ht), TJ Ryan for Lonergan (53), T Meagher for Martin (55), J Shelly for Kirwan (60+3).

KERRY: G Curran; C Ó’Lúing, G Crowley, S O’Connor; B Crowley, J Barry, G Horan; E Ó’Conchúir, K Murphy; D Foran, J Savage, C Fitzgerald; G O’Shea, N Sheehy, C Keane.

Subs: S Moloney for O’Shea (43), G O’Sullivan for Ó’Conchúir (49), E Doyle for Murphy (55), A Spillane for Foran (56), P O’Connor for Horan (59).

Referee: C Lane (Cork).

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