One-way traffic as Kerry cruise home

Eamonn Fitzmaurice’s team prove far too strong for Premier men

This scuffle during Kerry’s win over Tipperary was about as evenly matched as it got in Killarney. Photograph: Lorraine O’Sullivan/Inpho

This scuffle during Kerry’s win over Tipperary was about as evenly matched as it got in Killarney. Photograph: Lorraine O’Sullivan/Inpho


Kerry 2-19 Tipperary 0-8: Among the many pleasant ways of spending a summer afternoon in Killarney is watching a majestic display of Kerry football, players scoring beautiful points from all sorts of difficult angles, some smashing goals, high-fiving each other in the process and all that jazz.

The only problem is exposing the now great imbalance in Munster football – the reality being there is even more to come back here next Saturday evening when Kerry face off against Waterford in the semi-final. The only mercy is that it doesn’t go out live on TV.

How Tipperary ultimately recover from this defeat remains to be seen, but the fact is they’ve now gone 10 years without any victory in the Munster championship.

They got to within six points of Kerry last year, but this 17-point hammering – coming less than 24 hours after Cork took out Limerick by 18 points – puts a big bold question mark over the nature of football in the province.

“Well, I don’t know about that,” said Eamonn Fitzmaurice, the Kerry manager being typically diplomatic about it.

Difficult game
“In your job you look at the overall picture and assess the quality of the championship. But from our point of view we were just focusing on Tipperary. Last year we found it a very difficult game to win above in Thurles, just got over the line.

“Today we were zoned in on giving a professional display, and did that for most of the game. But I’m not going to judge the Munster championship. We’re happy with the win, and happy to have another game to look forward to next weekend.”

Indeed, Kerry played with consummate professionalism, producing 11 different scores, with 2-15 coming from play.

Anthony Maher and Johnny Buckley lorded midfield, James O’Donoghue helped himself to 1-3, and Colm “Gooch” Cooper’s five points – four from play – at least justified the presence of the television cameras (and were worth watching again in slow motion).

Yet it was all one-way traffic. Tipperary managed only two points from play, and when their only danger man, Barry Grogan, was sent off for a second bookable offence on 48 minutes their entire challenge died with him. Only one further point followed, a free for Conor Sweeney.

Manager Peter Creedon didn’t try to disguise the povertty of their performance: Kerry, he said, were a “different animal” to last year. This wasn’t just some bad day in the office for Tipperary – and Creedon also admitted that five or six counties are simply powering away from the rest. This game provided ample proof.

Actually Kerry never once left cruise-control – and didn’t need to: up seven points at half time, they simply turned on the style a little more as Tipp’s challenge wilted, O’Donoghue finishing off a cracking goal just 30 seconds after the restart, with substitute Darran O’Sullivan finishing off the second goal on 64 minutes. That made it 1-8 without reply after Grogan’s sending off. By then we were all ready to go home.

It’s not like Tipperary didn’t try, setting themselves up to halt Kerry’s charge by dropping midfielder Robbie Costigan back to play as a second centre-back – surrounding Cooper in the process. It didn’t work as Kerry’s range of passing – hand and foot – coupled with a variety of kick outs made it impossible for Tipperary to raise any sort of challenge, let along match Kerry’s.

Everything about Kerry’s attitude was right too. Fitzmaurice spoke afterwards about how the narrowness of the win against Tipp last year seemed to haunt the team for a while and they were determined to express themselves here.

Defensive roles
They certainly did that as Peter Crowley and debutant Fionn Fitzgerald settled perfectly into their defensive roles, while Paul Galvin, Kieran Donaghy and Cooper repeatedly set up scoring chances.

Donnchadh Walsh also saw lots of ball, and while Declan O’Sullivan was quiet he too chipped in with a point, so that all six forwards that started made the score sheet – as did Bryan Sheehan, from a 45, when coming on for Galvin.

Tipperary’s first point from play didn’t come until the 43rd minute from Philip Austin, and they didn’t get a sniff of a goal until the end when Peter Acheson’s shot came off the post.

“We are playing against a quality team and there is no point saying otherwise,” reckoned Creedon. “We are division four, they are division one. It might sound strange but I thought aspects of our football in the first half were better than last year, but Kerry were way superior, so it had as much to do with what Kerry brought to the table as what we brought to the table.”

Kerry are set to bring this to the table again on Saturday, with Fitzmaurice adamant that there will be no experimentation. Waterford have been warned, but the Munster football championship hasn’t looked this imbalanced in a long time.

KERRY: B Kealy; M Ó Sé, A O’Mahony, F Fitzgerald; T Ó Sé (0-1), K Young, P Crowley; A Maher (0-1), J Buckley (0-3, two frees); P Galvin (0-2), C Cooper (0-5, one free), D Walsh (0-1); Declan O’Sullivan (0-1), K Donaghy (0-1), J O’Donoghue (1-3). Subs: Darran O’Sullivan (1-0) for Walsh (50 mins), B Sheehan (0-1, a 45) for Galvin (55 mins), M Griffin for M Ó Sé (60 mins), K O’Leary for Declan O’Sullivan (62 mins). Yellow cards: P Crowley (21 mins), J Buckley (47 mins), K Donaghy (51 mins), P Galvin (54 mins),
TIPPERARY: P Fitzgerald; J Coghlan, P Codd, C McDonald (0-1); R Kiely, D Leahy, A Campbell; G Hannigan, R Costigan; C Sweeney (0-3, all frees), I Fahey, P Acheson; A Maloney, B Grogan (0-3), P Austin (0-1). Subs: B Mulvihill for Maloney , A Matassa for Kiely (both half time), L Egan for Hannigan (58 mins), H Coghlan for Fahey (65 mins). S Leahy for Campbell (34 mins). Yellow cards: B Grogan (21 mins, 48 mins), D Leahy (23 mins), C McDonald (58 mins), J Coghlan (70 mins). Red cards: Grogan (48 mins).
Referee: Maurice Condon (Waterford)