The home outfit had edged three of the last four minor meetings between the counties and while Kerry bore the tag of favourites entering this latest instalment, 816 spectators filed through the turnstiles in expectation of a nip-and-tuck semi-final affair. It would prove anything but.
Indeed, the visitors asserted their dominance as early as the 15th second — Tomás Ó Sé pouncing on a Matthew Flaherty delivery to fist home the leather. Kerry attempted to kick on from this positive opening and while a second goal arrived on 12 minutes, Jordan Kiely the provider, the interval difference of five points (2-3 to 0-4) failed to reflect their superiority.
Failure to drive home their advantage during the first 30 stemmed largely from a strong determination to raise a green rather than a white flag. Two goals were pilfered and although five more could have been added, a succession of points would surely have killed off the Tipperary challenge.
Manager Jack O’Connor accepted as much: “We could have clipped over a couple of points at times,” he said. “Maybe we were trying to force goals. We got two and could have got one or two more.”
Nonetheless, O’Connor said a solid platform had been laid by the break, singling out keeper Jack Brady who pulled off two quality saves — Padraig White and Jamie Bergin the disappointed pair.
“We have not conceded any goals in either game and we are happy with that. We had to take this game very seriously as Tipperary have a very good minor record. They turned over a very good Kerry team here three years ago, they turned Cork over here last year so we were under no illusions.
“What pleased me most is that we are showing a good hunger and a good attitude.”
Said attributes boiled to the surface at the change of ends as the Kingdom ran amok in every department. Barry O’Sullivan and Mark O’Connor strengthened their hold at midfield, with the half-forward line, in particular Matthew Flaherty, exhausting every blade of grass at the town end.
Not to forget full-forward Killian Spillane of course, the contributor of 0-10 and ably cast as chief tormentor for the evening.
Shane Ryan, Spillane (0-2) and Micheál Burns tallied early second-half minors to fasten the noose around Tipperary’s neck. Tommy Nolan and Jack Kennedy replied to sustain their presence in this contest, but only one more score would be added in the remaining 20 minutes — the second-half verdict 0-15 to 0-3 in favour of the winners.
Tomás Ó Sé, Brian Rayle and two Spillane efforts stretched the gap to 2-12 to 0-6 subsequently. Padraig White offered momentary resistance, but there would be no easing off on the throttle from O’Connor’s side.
This was a statement of intent.
Flaherty, along with substitutes Stephen O’Sullivan and Cormac Coffey, swelled their tally and Spillane, fittingly, would have the final say.
“We are very happy with the forwards, even the lads that aren’t scoring that much,” continued O’Connor. “There are other lads who have to come back into us so that will only strengthen competition for places ahead of the final.”
Scorers for Kerry: K Spillane 0-10 (4f); T Ó Sé 1-1; J Kiely 1-0; M Flaherty 0-2; B Rayle, S Ryan (1 ’45), S O’Sullivan, C Coffey, M Burns 0-1 each.
Scorers for Tipperary: W Connors, A Tynan, P Maher, J Bergin, J Kennedy, P White (1f), T Nolan 0-1 each.
KERRY: S Ryan; J Morgan, B Begley, T O’Sullivan; D Donoghue, A Barry, B Sugrue; B O’Sullivan, M O’Connor; M Flaherty, B Rayle, M Burns; J Kiely, K Spillane, T Ó Sé.
Subs: S O’Sullivan for Burns (46), C Coffey for Sugrue (46), S Cronin for Morgan (54), L Kearney for M O’Connor (54), P Clifford for Kiely (54).
TIPPERARY: J Brady; D Owens, P Murphy, C O’Shaughnessy; W Connors, L Fahy, J Skehan; T Nolan, S Quirke; E Maloney, P White, A Tynan; J Bergin, J Kennedy, P Maher.
Subs: R Peters for Bergin (40 mins), C O’Mahony for Skehan (40), T Lowry for Murphy (48), D McGrath for Quirke (50), J Delahunty for White (60).
Referee: K Murphy (Cork).