By Jackie Cahill
Tipperary failed in their bid to win the McGrath Cup for the first time since 2003, as the Kingdom proved too good at Sean Treacy Park in Tipperary Town.
Kerry won the toss and elected to play with the breeze but Tipp were doing ok for the first quarter of an hour.
Barry Grogan, who had scored 2-12 in his previous two matches, kicked the hosts ahead in the first minute but the Kingdom responded to lead by 0-3 to 0-1 by the 14th minute
Eamonn Fitzmaurice’s charges broke through for a crucial goal two minutes later as man of the match and former Allstar Darran O’Sullivan finished clinically after Anthony Maher and Paul Geaney had created the chance.
Grogan responded with a 22nd minute free but all through the game, Tipp struggled badly for scores.
They failed to score from play in the first half and almost 47 minutes had elapsed before Grogan scored Tipp’s first point from play.
Another followed soon after from 2011 minor captain McGrath but that was the sum total of Tipp’s contribution from play.
In contrast, Kerry had eight players on the scoresheet and at half-time, they had the game effectively won.
The Kingdom led by 1-7 to 0-2 at the break and the pick of the first half scores was a quite superb point from O’Sullivan in the 27th minute from the stand side touchline.
In defence, the Ó’Sé brothers Marc and Tomás ensured that the door remained firmly locked as Tipp struggled to break through, while midfielders Anthony Maher and Bryan Sheehan reigned supreme.
Marc Ó’Sé was doing a fine man-marking job on Tipp dangerman Grogan and overall, Kerry’s greater craft and experience was telling.
After half-time, they continued to pile on the pressure, despite the fact that they were now playing into the breeze.
The impressive Paul Geaney, Patrick Curtin and O’Sullivan hit three points without reply to kickstart the second half for Kerry, before Grogan pointed in the 47th minute.
McGrath added another point for Tipp as they enjoyed their best spell of the game.
Grogan pulled a free that he would normally convert wide in the 55th minute and a minute later, Hugh Coghlan forced a fine save from Kerry goalkeeper Brendan Kealy.
But Kealy erred from the resultant 45 as Barry Grogan’s effort somehow ended up in the back of the Kerry net.
It was a freakish goal to bring Tipp to within six points – 1-4 to 1-10 – but Kerry’s response was immediate as Geaney and Curtin exchanged a one-two before Geaney popped over a lovely score.
The final ten minutes of the game yielded just two points as Grogan and Geaney traded frees, before referee James Bermingham blew for full-time to confirm Kerry’s third McGrath Cup success in four seasons.
Scorers for Kerry: D O’Sullivan (1-3, 0-1f), P Geaney 0-3 (1f), T Ó’Sé, A Maher, B Sheehan (f), M Geaney, M O’Donoghue AND P Curtin 0-1 each.
Scorers for Tipperary: B Grogan 1-4 (1-0 45, 0-3f), L McGrath 0-1.
KERRY: B Kealy; M Ó’Sé, A O’Mahony, S Enright; J Lyne, J Sherwood, T Ó’Sé; A Maher, B Sheehan; M Geaney, D O’Sullivan, M O’Donoghue; B.J. Keane, P Curtin, P Geaney.
Subs: D Culhane for Sherwood (47), A Garnett for Sheehan (57), B.J. Walsh for Keane (57), P Murphy for Lyne (58), B Kelliher for O’Donoghue (59).
TIPPERARY: Paul Fitzgerald (Fethard); Andrew Morrissey (Galtee Rovers), Paddy Codd (Killenaule), John Coghlan (Moyne-Templetuohy); Brian Fox (Éire Óg Annacarty), Seamus Kennedy (Clonmel Commercials), Ciarán McDonald (Aherlow); George Hannigan (Shannon Rovers), Lorcan Egan (JK Brackens); Steven O’Brien (Ballina), Philip Quirke (Moyle Rovers), Bill Maher (Kilsheelan-Kilcash); Liam McGrath (Loughmore-Castleiney), Barry Grogan (Aherlow), Conor Sweeney (Ballyporeen).
Subs: Hugh Coghlan (Portlaoise, Laois) for Egan (h.t.), Alan Campbell (Moyle Rovers) for Kennedy (h.t.), Bernard O’Brien (Aherlow) for S O’Brien (53), Brian Jones (Arravale Rovers) for Hannigan (59), Aldo Matassa (Clonmel Commercials) for Sweeney (67).
Referee: James Bermingham (Cork).