REIGNING ALL-IRELAND champions Tipperary produced a brilliant second-half performance to overturn Kerry and claim the county’s second successive Munster minor football title with a 2-14 to 1-14 victory this afternoon in the Gaelic Grounds.
Second-half goals by Colman Kennedy and Tom Kirwan proved vital in shaping the Premier county’s triumph but they had to withstand a nervy finale as Kerry poured forward in search of leveling scores.
The success sees Tipperary claim their 7th title in the grade and it is the first time since 1935 that they have managed to claim back-to-back grades in the competition.
They were forced to work extremely hard for this success as they recovered from the seven-point deficit that they faced approaching half-time and the fact that they were five points down, 1-9 to 0-7, at the interval.
However a couple of shrewd positional switches by manager David Power helped turn the game in Tipperary’s favour as they dominated the second-half exchanges.
In a tightly-contested opening quarter it was Kerry who made the early breakthrough with John Mitchels clubman Niall Sheehy finding the net in the 16th minute to push them into a 1-5 to 0-4 lead.
Kerry built on that advantage with Sheehy finding his range in front of goal and getting assistance from Legion’s Conor Keane and Kerins O’Rahilly’s Jack Savage as the Mickey Ned O’Sullivan trained side moved into a commanding 1-9 to 0-7 lead.
Tipperary were struggling to withstand Kerry’s attacks but they grabbed two vital points before the break courtesy of Jason Lonergan and Tom Kirwan to keep them in touch as they were only five points adrift heading for the dressing-rooms.
Tipperary emerged in determined fashion and were helped by switches that saw Philip Quirke move to midfield, Stephen O’Brien go to centre-forward and Ian Fahey positioned inside at the edge of the square. Fahey kicked an early point before Colman Kennedy, the goal-scoring hero in last September’s All-Ireland decider, found the net for a vital Tipperary goal.
Fahey and Kennedy continued to cause havoc up front for Tipperary and they then kicked three points between them, before Ballybacon-Grange player Tom Kirwan fired the ball to the net for Tipperary’s second goal.
Suddenly the complexion of the game had changed and entering the finale Tipperary were still in control as they held a 2-13 to 1-11 advantage.
Kerry mounted a late charge with Sheehy firing over two frees and Keane notching another point to trim the gap to two points. Tipperary were grateful during that hectic period for an outstanding save by goalkeeper Evan Comerford and a late Ian Fahey pointed free ensured they ran out winners by a three-point margin.
Tipperary 2-14 Kerry 1-14, Ian Fahey free.