Kelly finds range as Tipp see off Kerry
Tipperary 2-16 Kerry 0-8
While this David v Goliath clash between hurling aristocrats and youthful outsiders did not have a biblical ending, the rains that came down certainly were approaching biblical proportions as Tipperary's experienced hands came to fore late in this entertaining semi final at Austin Stack Park.
It was only in the final 15 minutes that Tipperary's class told, albeit in near impossible conditions, with Noel McGrath and Padraic Maher coming off the bench to make an impact.
It also took a 50th minute goal from the impressive Michael Cahill and 1-2 in injury-time, with top gun Eoin Kelly rifling a second goal that flattered the visitors on the day, though a shock result was never on.
Kerry tactically got it right in the opening half, with corner-forward Paul McGrath playing as a third midfielder and Daniel Collins dropping back as cover and the Tipperary attack just could not break the Kingdom defence down.
Tipperary assistant manager Mick Ryan admitted after the match that they were just happy to leave with the victory.
"We are delighted to come out of here with a win, because that is what we came down to do, to get through to the next round," said Ryan.
"It was very difficult out there and we were under no illusions, but that it was going to be difficult. I thought Kerry were very game and I thought they had a very good game plan in the first half.
"The half-time scoreline was not flattering in the least now. But our boys finished very strong and we were delighted to be able use the bench and that really brought us over the finishing line."
For new Kerry boss Eamonn Kelly, a Tipperary native, there was much to admire about the way his inexperienced side battled all the way against a superior force.
"It was a good start, a lot of young lads who made their debuts today played well today I felt," he said.
"Our two corner-backs, Dougie Fitzell and Kevin Orpen, were very strong, while wing-back Sean Weir never stopped attacking and working.
"We had seven guys making their debuts and I thought they wanted to be there. You could see that and their attitude was good. They battled hard and we're pleased with what we saw."
Kerry actually took the lead, with points from Shane Nolan and Padraig Boyle, before four Kelly points saw Tipperary take a 0-4 to 0-3 lead in the 21st minute.
And while they were never to lose that lead, they required a brace of Michael Cahill points to move 0-9 to 0-3 clear by half-time.
Three unanswered points after the break from Kerry closed the gap to three and the Tipp management decided it was time for the big guns, with McGrath and Maher coming off the bench.
Then came the Cahill goal in the 50th minute and the late flurry that ensured there would be no slip-up.
SCORERS -- Tipperary: E Kelly 1-8 (0-4fs), M Cahill 1-2, D Collins 0-2, D Maher, N McGrath, R Maher, C O Riordan 0-1 each. Kerry: S Nolan 0-5 (5fs), P Lucid, M Boyle, P Boyle 0-1 each.
TIPPERARY -- D Egan; C Bartlett, C O'Mahony, J Peters; S McGrath, B Maher, C O Brien; M Cahill, J Woodlock; D Maher, D Collins, Patrick Maher; E Kelly, P Murphy, C Kenny. Subs: N McGrath for P Murphy (h-t), Padraic Maher for J Woodlock (48), R Maher for Patrick Maher (52), C O' Riordan for D Collins (69)
KERRY -- T Flynn; D Fitzelle, T Casey, K Orpen; S Weir, J Leahy, Brendan O'Leary; P Lucid, D Collins; M Boyle, S Nolan, C O'Brien; PJ Connolly, P Boyle, P McGrath. Subs: D Dineen for T Casey (29), R Heffernan for P McGrath (35), P O'Connor for C O'Brien ( 48), K Dineen for R Heffernan ( 50), Brian O'Leary for P Lucid ( 65)
REF -- D O'Driscoll (Limerick).