Kerry defeated Tipperary by 2-18 to 2-6 in the Munster Senior Football Championship on Sunday at Semple Stadium Thurles.
Good, but it needs to get better
Tipperary 2-6 Kerry 2-18
By Tony Leen for the Irish Examiner newspaper
Monday, May 17, 2010
IN James L. Brooks’ feted romcom, As Good As It Gets, Jack Nicholson offends his date Helen Hunt so grievously that she’s walking out of the restaurant unless he pays her an immediate compliment. Nicholson tells her she makes him want to be a better man, a compliment so thoughtful that the swooned Hunt believes it’s the nicest she’s ever received. “Well then I overshot the runway,” admits Jack, “‘cos I was hoping just to say enough to get you to sit down.” Kerry’s own Jack watched his charges overshoot the runway in Thurles yesterday, a 12-point win against a game and physical opposition arguably more than the All-Ireland champions needed, or deserved.
Occasionally the modest crowd of just under 5,000 swooned like a Helen Hunt as Kieran Donaghy did a passable impression of an acrobatic tree climber, but it was only in the last third of the game that he finally freed himself from the barnacle-like efforts of Tipperary U21, Ciarán McDonald. Tipp coach John Evans likened Donaghy to a gazelle, and there is scarcely a finer sight than the Austin Stacks man hanging, momentarily suspended, under the aerial supply of his colleagues. If there is a purist’s debate about Donaghy’s preeminence, it might be with the slaloming skill-set of Colm Cooper. Together they are a fearful force, but Donaghy’s gift is bringing all comers into the game. His corner forward Bryan Sheehan hoovered up 2-5 in total yesterday. Yes it’s being churlish, but the only downside is that when Donaghy is fit and in this kind of form, Kerry tend to go too quickly, and too often, to their full forward. He might have made a third goal for Sheehan at Semple Stadium yesterday, but his fisted pass was ruled illegal under the third set of guidelines for hand-passing in the past year.
It proved an irksome intruder on an otherwise routine Munster Championship first-round afternoon, but the sense lingers that it won’t be the last words we’ll hear on the issue this summer. “Somewhere, down the line, there’s going to be a critical call that will cost a team a match,” reasoned a less-than-impressed Jack O’Connor afterwards. “All hell is going to break loose. Somebody, somewhere, seems determined to get that rule through by hook or by crook. There’s no other game in the world where you would change a fundamental skill and give the players a crash course a week before a big game. These players have been passing the ball one way for 15 years.”
When the Kerry management get around to reviewing this one, the kerfuffle over the handpass won’t be the most bothersome topic, though. Neither Tom O’Sullivan or Tommy Griffin looks too comfortable in the full back line, especially in the first half when Philip Austin and Hugh Coghlan carried the ball from deep. The pay-off for Tipp’s tactics of lying deep, however, was the amount of unchallenged possession afforded to a ball-playing centre half back like Mike McCarthy. The Kilcummin Rolls Royce was the starting point for most of Kerry’s first-half attacks and the All-Ireland champions monopolised possession far more than their 0-8 to 1-4 half time lead suggested, even into the stiffish breeze. Austin’s seventh minute goal for Tipperary, allied to their in-your-face approach, kept things interesting, and when Seamus Scanlon’s pass was intercepted in the early minutes of the second half to give Barry Grogan a levelling point, we momentarily sensed a gritty second period. Alas, for the neutrals, Sheehan’s close range finish in the 43rd minute allowed Kerry harvest a 1-12 to 1-6 lead that even Grogan’s fisted goal did little to threaten.
THE rest was window dressing for most of us, but there were others with points to prove. Barry John Keane, whose grandfather John Dowling captained Kerry to All-Ireland success 55 years ago, was introduced to Championship fare and snaffled a couple of points. Anthony Maher got some Championship minutes into his legs and Donncha Walsh put in an impressive shift which temporarily quells the debate over Kerry’s No 12 jersey. With 2-5, Sheehan looks to have franked his name on the No 15 jersey too, so the watching Conor Counihan can start plotting immediately for the side he will face in Killarney on June 6.
A year ago, Kerry discovered they weren’t ready for the power and purpose of Cork, but the management have taken steps to remedy their build up this time. “We have a better idea of what we’re at,” agreed O’Connor with a first-round game under his belt. “We can play better than this. At least lads know now they have to up the ante. Last year we coasted through the league and fellas had a false sense of security. We were well off the pace when we played Cork. At the moment, they look the team to beat. We’re going to have to up it big time in the next three weeks.” This time they’ll have a fit Donaghy, and Cork have a decision to make on who dislodges the ball from Kerry’s great oak. “It’s my favourite game, playing Cork in Killarney,” gushed Donaghy afterwards. “I can’t wait.” Nor can we.
Kerry: Brendan Kealy; Marc O Sé, Tommy Griffin, Tom O’Sullivan; Tomás O Sé, Mike McCarthy, Killian Young; Seamus Scanlon (0-1), Micheál Quirke; Paul Galvin (0-2), Declan O’Sullivan (0-1), Donnacha Walsh (0-1); Colm Cooper (0-4), Kieran Donaghy (0-1), Bryan Sheehan (2-5).
Subs: Padraig Reidy, Darran O’Sullivan, Anthony Maher, Adrian O’Connell, Barry John Keane (0-2).
Tipperary: Paul Fitzgerald; Paddy Codd, Niall Curran, Ciaran McDonald; Chris Aylward, Robbie Costigan, Ciaran McGrath; Kevin Mulryan, George Hannigan (0-1); Peter Acheson (0-1), Philip Austin (1-0), Hugh Coghlan; Sean Carey, Barry Grogan (1-3), Brian Mulvihill (0-1).
Subs: Brian Fox, Brian Coen, John Cagney, Brian Jones, Andrew Morrissey.
Referee: D Coldrick (Meath)
The Kerry Senior Football Team to play Tipperary on Sunday 16th May is as follows:
1. Brendan Kealy Kilcummin, 2. Marc Ó Sé An Ghaeltacht ,3. Tommy Griffin Dingle 4. Tom O’ Sullivan Rathmore 5. Tomás Ó Sé An Ghaeltacht, 6. Mike McCarthy Kilcummin, 7. Killan Young Renard 8. Seamus Scanlon Currow , 9. Micheál Quirke Kerins O’Rahillys 10. Paul Galvin Finuge , 11. Declan O’ Sullivan Piarsaigh Na Dromada ,12. Donnacha Walsh Cromane 13. Colm Cooper Dr Crokes, 14. Kieran Donaghy Austin Stacks 15. Bryan Sheehan St. Mary’s
Substitutes: 16 David Hennessey Kerins O’Rahillys, 17. Darran O’ Sullivan Glenbeigh /Glencar 18 Padraig Reidy Scartaglin ,19. Anthony Maher Duagh 20. Adrian O’Connell St Michael’s Foilmore 21. Kieran O’Leary Dr. Crokes Ciarán Ó Laoire 22. Barry John Keane Kerins O’Rahillys 23. Niall O’Mahony Spa 24. Pat Corridan Finuge,25. Brendan Guiney Listowel Emmett’s 26. David Moran Kerins O’Rahillys
Bainisteóir: Jack O’Connor (Piarsaigh Na Dromada)
Traenálaí: Alan O’Sullivan (Kerins O’Rahillys)
Roghnóirí: Ger O’Keeffe (Austin Stacks) Eamon Fitzmaurice (Finuge)
The Tipperary Senior Football team to play Kerry in the Munster Senior Football Quarter Final at Semple Stadium on Sunday May 16th is:
1. Paul Fitzgerald (Fethard)
2. Paddy Codd (Killenaule)
3. Niall Curran (Mullinahone)
4. Ciaran McDonald (Aherlow)
5. Christopher Aylward (Clonmel Óg)
6. Robbie Costigan (Cahir) Captain
7. Ciaran McGrath (Loughmore Castleiney)
8. Kevin Mulryan (J. K. Brackens)
9. George Hannigan (Shannon Rovers)
10. Peter Acheson (Moyle Rovers)
11. Philip Austin (Borrisokane)
12. Hugh Coghlan (St. Vincents, Dublin)
13. Sean Carey (Moyle Rovers)
14. Barry Grogan (Aherlow)
15. Brian Mulvihill (Moyle Rovers)