O Se red card dampens Kerry's mood
It might be the dawn of a new championship but a familiar, and unwanted, black cloud has already encamped itself over the Kingdom once more.
While Kerry should be mulling over the positives and negatives -- of which there are many -- of this flattering 11-point victory at Fitzgerald Stadium, Killarney, the now familiar theme of ill-discipline has raised its head once more following Tomas O Se's 33rd-minute dismissal.
Involved in an off-the-ball incident with Tipperary wing-forward Hugh Coughlan, the referee was alerted to O Se's indiscretion by the linesman, with the straight red card that followed now meaning that the talismanic defender faces the prospect of an eight-week suspension.
This would be a major blow to Kerry's hopes of provincial success, and it appears that O Se will be hit with his second championship ban in the space of 48 weeks, as he was also suspended following the Munster final against Limerick last July.
It was little wonder that this latest headline-grabbing act dampened the mood of manager Jack O'Connor, as he reflected on the first-half talking point. "Obviously there was a bit of needle there between the two of them. I didn't see it but the linesman did see something. He said it to the referee and that's the end of it."
Apart from O Se's red card, the scoreline flattered Kerry, especially after a first half that the home side won 0-9 to 0-5, with the advantage of a strong wind. A few flashes of Colm Cooper brilliance aside, along with the work-rate of Eoin Brosnan, Aidan O'Mahony, Declan O'Sullivan and Donnchadh Walsh, Kerry flattered to deceive against a Tipperary side that really put it up to them.
But all Tipperary's hard work was undone just minutes into the second half, when Kerry were awarded a penalty after Kieran Donaghy was hauled down in the square. Up marched Bryan Sheehan, who played in midfield, to arrow the ball into the bottom corner. Quick-fire scores from Sheehan and Darran O'Sullivan soon opened up a nine-point gap.
But Tipperary boss John Evans felt the penalty decision was harsh. "My biggest concern was the penalty. There were three guys standing around him and there was absolutely no foul, no play of the ball."
Still, Tipperary battled hard against 14-man Kerry in that second half, and with Barry Grogan swinging over two frees, as well as scores from Conor Sweeney, Brian Mulvihill and Peter Acheson -- Cooper and Donnchadh Walsh hit the Kerry replies -- it narrowed the gap to six points, 1-13 to 0-10, with 12 minutes left.
Then Barry Grogan's goal was disallowed before Philip Austin's powerful strike cannoned off the post minutes later.
The eye-catching Declan O'Sullivan continued to pull the strings, as Kerry eased home in style, with Sheehan pouncing for their second goal in injury-time.
Man of the Match: Declan O'Sullivan (Kerry)
Scorers -- Kerry: C Cooper 0-5 (2f), B Sheehan 2-1 (1-0 pen, 1f), Darran O'Sullivan, Declan O'Sullivan 0-3 each, K O'Leary, E Brosnan, A O'Mahony, D Walsh 0-1 each. Tipperary: B Grogan (2f) 0-3, C Sweeney (1f), P Austin 0-2 each, B Fox, G Hannigan, B Mulvihill, P Acheson 0-1 each.
Kerry -- B Kealy; 6; K Young 6, M O Se 7, T O'Sullivan 6; T O Se 6, E Brosnan 7, A O'Mahony 7; S Scanlon 6, B Sheehan 7; Darran O'Sullivan 7, Declan O'Sullivan 8, D Walsh 8; C Cooper 7, K Donaghy 7, K O'Leary 7. Subs: P Galvin 6 for K O'Leary (53), BJ Keane 6 for Darran O'Sullivan (60), D Bohan 6 for A O'Mahony (63), S Enright 6 for T O'Sullivan (63), A O'Connell 6 for E Brosnan (69), M Quirke 6 for S Scanlon (blood sub).
Tipperary -- M O'Donnell 7; A Morrissey 7, P Codd 6, C McDonald 6; C Dillon 6, L Egan 6, C Aylward 6; G Hannigan 7, B Jones 7; B Fox 7, P Austen 7, H Coghlan; C Sweeney 6, S Grogan 6, B Grogan 7. Subs: P Mulvihill 7 for S Grogan (43), P Acheson 6 for C Sweeney (56), J Cagney 6 for B Jones (66), S Hahessy 6 for P Austin (70).
REF -- M Condon (Waterford).