Kennedy kick-starts Tipp comeback
Reigning All-Ireland champions Tipperary turned in a sparkling second-half performance to retain their provincial title at the Gaelic Grounds yesterday.
Kerry led 1-9 to 0-7 at half-time and an upset looked likely as Mickey Ned O'Sullivan's side had dominated the opening period.
But a Tipperary point within seconds of the restart by Ian Fahy was followed after two minutes by a superb goal by Colman Kennedy, who punched to the far corner of the Kerry goal from an acute angle.
Steven O'Brien put over the equalising point and from there Tipp never looked back. Points by Fahy and Kennedy put them in front in a great spell. A clinically taken goal by Tom Kirwan after 42 minutes meant that Tipperary had scored 2-4 without reply as Kerry suddenly began to look vulnerable in defence.
The Tipperary rearguard had been very shaky in the opening period, and by half-time both of their corner-backs had been replaced.
The sides were level at 0-2 each and again at 0-4 apiece before Niall Sheehy nudged Kerry in front again.
Kerry had a lucky break when the ball bounced off a Tipperary defender and fell to the feet of Sheehy who hit a strong ground-shot to the net to make it 1-5 to 0-4.
David Foran, Sheehy, Conor Keane and Jack Savage pushed the score to 1-9 to 0-5, but in the last minute of the half Jason Lonergan and Tom Kirwan pulled back points for Tipp.
Inspired by that finish, Tipp were transformed after the break. Bill Maher had an outstanding game at wing-back and he scored one of the best points of the contest. Dylan Fitzelle and James Feehan did well in defence and up front Colman Kennedy and Tom Kirwan were a constant threat. Kerry will improve on this performance and in Jack Barry, Kieran Murphy, Niall Sheehy and Keane they have players to keep an eye on for the future.
Scorers -- Tipperary: C Kennedy 1-3 (1f), T Kirwan 1-1, I Fahy 0-4 (1f), S O'Brien 0-2, B Maher, J Lonergan, J Martin, P Quirke 0-1 each. Kerry: N Sheehy 1-4, J Savage 0-4 (3f), C Keane 0-3, K Murphy, D Foran, C Fitzgerald 0-1 each.
Tipperary -- E Comerford; D Cass, J Feehan, L Egan; 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 (h-t), TJ Ryan for Lonergan (51), M O'Meara for Martin (54), J Shelly for Kirwan (60).
Kerry -- G Curran; C O Luing, G Crowley, S O'Connor; B Crowley, J Barry, G Horan; E O Conchuir, 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 E O'Connor (48), E Doyle for Murphy (52), A Spillane for Foran (55).
Ref -- C Lane (Cork)