In last Saturday’s Hastings Cup Shield final played at St Patrick’s GAA grounds Limerick, a Kerry goal within thirty seconds after the throw-in followed by two further strikes in the first fifteen minutes of the second half, dashed any hopes Tipp held of retaining the title as Kerry ran out ten point margin winners on a score line of 3-9 to 0-8.
With Sigerson, Fitzgibbon and club fixtures to contend with, the wider Tipp panel was being well tested and having conceded 6-20 in the last two games of the competition, and the nature of the three Kerry goals, it should ertainly set alarm bells ringing for the selectors regarding the whole defensive set-up with our first outing in the Munster Championship just four weeks away.
While Kerry may have got off to a good start with 1-1 after seven minutes, it certainly wasn’t all doom and gloom as Tipp, playing their best football notably in the first half, had Kerry on the back foot in their efforts to keep Tipp at bay.
However it’s the scoring tally that counts and despite all Tipp’s possession it didn’t transfer to the scoreboard with the first period showing five points, four from Josh Keane and one by Bill Maher while Kerry added two points in the last two minutes before the break to lead, 1-4 to 0-5.
Kerry made a blistering start to the second half going seven points clear before Josh Keane brought the deficit back to six with a pointed free to keep Tipp within touching distance.
Despite Tipp’s best efforts which yielded further points each by Josh Keane and Paul Shanahan, there was no denying Kerry’s second half dominance and with five of last year’s Minor All Ireland winning team on the field and under the guidance of Darragh O’Shea and Seamus Moynihan, they proved worthy winners and will provide stern opposition in the Munster Championship.
For Tipp a learning curve and with a hundred per cent training attendance and work rate over the next four weeks they won’t lack motivation come March 18, be it Waterford or Clare.
Tipperary - Evan Comerford, Michael O’Connor, Jimmy Feehan, Colin O’Shaughnessey, Luke Boland, Ross Mulcahy, Kevin Fahey, Paul Shanahan (0-1), Ian Fahey, Bill Maher, Gerry Cronin, Jason Lonergan, Tommy Sweeney, Josh Keane, (0-6, 0-2 frees), Paul Maher.
Subs - Niall McKenna for Paul Maher, Padraig Loorham for Ross Mulcahy, Dominic Walsh for Tommy Sweeney, Pearse Richardson for Paul Shanahan (inj), Ted Lowry for Michael O’Connor.