O'Connor's troops run riot
All-Ireland MFC final: Kerry 4-14 Tipperary 0-6
At the final whistle, Tipperary’s players gathered in a huddle to start the healing.
For more than a handful of them, it was an unhappily, familiar feeling with this defeat reopening wounds from the minor hurling final loss. They could only look on as Kerry retained the Tom Markham Cup, becoming the first team to manage the feat since 1997.
They couldn’t have been more deserving winners. Jack O’Connor’s side dominated from pillar to post, turning the pre-match analysis on its head.
Kerry had beaten Tipp in the Munster final in a success that was built largely on an early scoring blitz, but the common consensus was that Tipp, in beating the Connacht and Leinster champions in Galway and Kildare, were a much better team now.
Maybe they were, but so were Kerry. Since the Munster final, Tipp looked to have tightened up their defence. They had conceded just 15 points in their last two games but here they were picked apart by a Kerry side who started better and essentially never looked back.
They didn’t exactly streak off into the distance but instead slowly strangled the life out of Tipperary. This game was over long before the final whistle.
The only glimmer of hope for Charlie McGeever’s side came when hurling, rugby and football starlet Alan Tynan screwed over their second point on 17 minutes. That left them just two points in arrears, a scoreline that didn’t reflect the Kingdom’s superiority, but there was no panic from the young Kerry men.
When Kerry’s first goal chance presented itself, it was clinically taken. A high ball spilled nicely into the hands of Sean O’Shea. The Kenmare youngster might have gone for goal himself but he took the better option and fed Bryan Sweeney. His finish was superb and suddenly they were six points up.
There was only 20 minutes played but it already looked like there would be no way back for Tipp.
They were struggling in almost every aspect. At midfield, Kerry’s Mark O’Connor was giving a performance to underline why there has been so much talk about the Dingle youngster. In winning yesterday’s final, he made a small piece of history by winning
back-to-back Hogan Cup and
All-Ireland minor titles.
And even when Tipp could get the ball past their midfield, the direct ball to the full-forward line was usually cut out by the extra body Kerry deployed in defence.
If the poor return from their forwards was sucking the life out of them, then Kerry’s crisp play in attack left them floundering. Two minutes after the first goal, Kerry got in for a second.
This one came from the penalty spot after Conor Geaney was fouled. He converted himself to put his side almost out of sight.
Tynan responded with another excellent score but it made little difference and Kerry looked to have most of the spade work done by
half-time as they took in a ten-point lead (2-8 to 0-4).
Tipp needed to start strongly on the resumption but they looked a beaten team. By the 40-minute mark, Kerry had the ball in the net again. Michael Foley finished the good approach work by O’Shea and Brandon Barrett.
From there it was a procession. Kerry got their fourth goal when Foley was fouled and Geaney struck again from the spot.
O’Connor had the luxury of running his bench and his replacements revelled in the time and space with James Duggan and Stephen O’Sullivan adding more gloss to the scoreline.
In fact the final score might have been even uglier for Tipp but Brian
O Seanachain’s effort hit the crossbar.
All that was left for Kerry was to collect the Markham Cup for the second year in succession, having previously not won an All-Ireland at the grade since 1994. For Tipp, there was only healing to do.
SCORERS – Kerry: C Geaney 2-4 (2-0 pens, 1f); B Sweeney 1-1; M Foley 1-0; S O’Shea (1f), J Duggan 0-2 each; B Ó Seanacháin, M O’Connor, JM Foley, S O’Sullivan, B Barrett, 0-1 each. Tipperary: A Tynan 0-3; T Nolan 0-2; J Kennedy 0-1 (‘45’).
KERRY – B Courtney 7; D Brosnan 7, J Foley 8, T O’Sullivan 7; G White 7, A Barry 7, J Morgan 7; M O’Connor 8, JM Foley 7; B Ó Seanachain 7, S O’Shea 8, B Barrett 8; M Foley 7, B Sweeney 7, C Geaney 8. Subs: S O’Sullivan 7 for Barrett (40), J Duggan 8 for M Foley (46), M Breen 7 for JM Foley (46), D O’Brien 7 for O’Sullivan (46), Dara O Shea for Brosnan (52), G O’Sullivan for Morgan (52).
TIPPERARY – C Manton 6; T Lowry 6, J Skehan 7, T Fitzgerald 6; E Moloney 7, L Fahy 7, D Owens 7; J Kennedy 6, T Nolan 7; A Buckley 6, A Tynan 8, C English 6; B McGrath 6, S Quirke 6, B Martin 7.
Subs: R Peters 6 for English (ht), J Bergin 6 for Buckley (HT), M Irwin 7 for Fitzgerald (44, bc), M Kehoe 7 for McGrath (45), G Whelan for Moloney (52), C Cashman for Martin (56).
REF – D Gough (Meath).