Tipperary junior footballers scored a famous win against Kerry in the Munster quarter final curtain raiser tie at Fitzgerald Stadium, Killarney to set up a semi-final clash with Waterford on Saturday evening next.
A great win this for Tipperary and one fashioned from good old values of hard work, dedication to the cause and chance taking.
Tipperary, although they could have had three more goals in the game, were far more efficient in front of goal and had just five wides in the hour as opposed to Kerry’s whopping 15.
The win was the perfect start to the big championship outing in Killarney and while Tipperary laid the foundations in the first half, they had plenty to do thereafter to secure what was a rare and wonderful win in The Kingdom.
Tipperary played with the aid of the breeze in the first half and they made the advantage count. The visitors took the game to Kerry and were more accurate in front of goal with the Kingdom managing seven wides in the half as opposed to just two for Tipp.
Although Kerry had the opening score thanks to a Gavin O’Grady effort in the 4th minute from a placed ball, Tipp hit back with five unanswered scores to place themselves in a very good position by the end of the first quarter.
Benny Hickey was the scorer in chief with four of those efforts while Thomas Hanley kicked another to mirror Tipp’s dominance in play with that on the scoreboard.
Indeed, Tipp could well have had a goal in the 6th minute when Gavin Ryan availed of a rebound off the upright and seemed destined to see green, only for Ambrose Lanigan to block brilliantly.
Kerry came more into the game as the half wore onwards and they began to match Tipp on the scoreboard.
Alan Fitzgerald traded with Tommy Ryan while Aidan Walsh and Alan Fitzgerald (2) swopped scores with Tommy Ryan banging over another having come forward from half back, and Adrian Walsh also getting on the scoresheet.
And when Benny Hickey shot a fine goal, soccer style, in the 29th minute after Brian Quinn had created the chance, Tipp’s lead was doubled as the half time whistle loomed. By the interval, Tipp were 1-9 to 0-5 to the good – Laurence Coskeran finishing off the half in style and giving Tipp a very decent lead to build on for the second half.
Tipperary built upon that advantage immediately after the restart with Benny Hickey and Gavin Ryan pointing to extend the lead.
And they could have had goals had Paidi O’Se not intervened to deny Adrian Walsh in the 3rd minute.
Paddy Dalton too had a goal chance while Tommy Ryan had an effort blocked also - all chances coming inside 7 minutes of the restart.
Had Tipp goalled with any of these efforts it would probably have been game over – instead they were made to battle hard and sweat it out.
Kerry came back at Tipp with points from Philip O’Connor (2) and Alan Fitzgerald bringing them back into contention.
O’Connor fisted over another and Niall Sheehy found a score to leave four in it with a quarter to go.
Tipp were under pressure in the midfield sector and needed to get on the ball a bit more.
It happened and thanks to the experience of players such as Paddy Dalton, Colin Morrissey and of course Benny Hickey, they managed to slow things down and prevent Kerry from gaining any real momentum.
Michael O’Sullivan, just on as a sub, had a point with his first touch and it was just as well, because a moment later Kerry raided on goal and saw a Niall Fitzgerald effort deflected just wide by Aaron Kelly.
Gavin O’Grady pointed for Kerry to cut the deficit to four, but Tipp finished the stronger with Benny Hickey pointing from a free in the 26th and then he found two from play to round off a fabulous personal outing with 1-8 to his credit.
This was a very fine win for Tipp who showed no fear whatsoever of the opposition.
To travel to Killarney and come away with a win is a big achievement and it was down to hard work and application to the cause.
Benny Hickey gets the plaudits for his scoring prowess but others to the fore were Paddy Dalton, Colin Morrissey and Tommy Ryan in the half back line who were excellent in defence and in the attack.
Gavin Ryan proved a good target man at full forward while Aaron Kelly, Eoin Ryan and Thomas Hanley were also prominent.
Kerry, who had Aidan Walsh straight red carded right at the very death, were disappointed not to come up to the mark on the day.
But they were the first to acknowledge that Tipperary brought more fight to the battle and more imagination to the performance. Kerry’s best on the day were Alan Fitzgerald, Gavin O’Grady, Padraig O’Se, Brendan O’Sullivan and Aidan Walsh.
Tipperary: J English, C Higgins, A Kelly, G Mulhaire, P Dalton, C Morrissey, T Ryan 0-2, C McGrath, E Ryan, A Walsh 0-1, T Hanley 0-1, B Hickey 1-8, L Coskeran 0-1, G Ryan 0-1, B Quinn. Subs: D Heffernan for B Quinn; M O’Sullivan 0-1 for L Coskeran; D Butler for O Ryan.
Kerry:S Dee, P O’Shea, A Lanigan, E Kiely, P Kilkenny, B O’Sullivan, N Fitzgerald, C McGillicuddy, A Walsh 0-1, G Sayers, A Fitzgerald 0-4, A Breen, G O’Grady 0-2, C Keating, P O’Connor 0-3. Subs: N Sheehy 0-1 for G Sayers; J Hickson for C Keating; D Somers for A Breen; G crowley for N Fitzgerald; D Daly for G O’Grady
Referee: M Condon (Waterford)