Thursday 9 February 2023 Dublin: 2°C
Cathal Noonan/INPHO Paul Geaney struck home Kerry's third goal this afternoon
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5 talking points after Kerry reign again in Munster and Tipperary head to qualifiers
Ten points separated the sides in Fitzgerald Stadium today.

1. O’Donoghue returns but as Kerry concern for Cooper

The issue of injured Kerry attackers cropped up again here. On the plus side for Kerry, they ushered James O’Donoghue back into action for the first time since last year’s All-Ireland final. He shot 0-4 after coming on, got some valuable game time and is now firmly back in the frame for the bigger challenges looming ahead.

But there was concern for Kerry with the enforced first half departure of Colm Cooper. The coming days will reveal the nature of his collarbone injury yet it is a definite worry as Kerry get set to plot their assault on the All-Ireland series.

2. Tipperary defeated but pride intact

After their seismic win over Cork, a first Munster final appearance since 2002 guaranteed this was a major occasion for Tipperary football. Despite stunning the home support with a goal after 35 seconds, Kerry asserted their authority as the first half progressed and there was never truly a sense that Tipperary were threatening a momentous upset.

Tipperary suffered from some basic handling errors and they needed to take every scoring chance that came their way. But Tipperary still chased Kerry all the way and the champions superior strength off the bench was pivotal to them pulling clear. Yet this was no humbling defeat for the Premier despite ten points separating the sides at the final whistle.

3. The Paul influence in the Kerry attack

After shipping the blow of that early Tipperary goal, Kerry needed some attacking inspiration. The call was answered by Paul Geaney (1-2) and Paul Murphy (1-1) in that opening half. After the break Geaney drilled home a brilliant second goal, finished with 2-3 to his name and just like last year’s Munster final replay against Cork, he showed his eye for a goal.

Murphy has seamlessly switched to perform an attacking role for Kerry this season, his energy and ball-playing providing his team with a key outlet in the half-forward line. Inside Geaney again offered evidence of the threat he possesses.

Eamonn Fitzmaurice was fulsome in his praise of the duo after and knows they will be instrumental for the potential August and September battles.

4. Tipperary’s qualifier challenge

For the first time, this current Tipperary team face into the qualifiers on the back of a provincial final loss instead of an early Munster exit. How they respond now will be telling but the scheduling will assist them. They have almost three weeks to clear their heads before being in action in Round 4A on 23 July.

That break should ensure the hangover from this loss has left their system by then. It’s vital Tipperary pick themselves up now and attempt to break the last 12 barrier that proved impenetrable in 2012 against Down and in 2014 against Galway.

A victory at the next stage will put them in an All-Ireland quarter-final and that will ensure 2016 has seen real progress.

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5. Fitzmaurice’s Munster four-in-a-row

Éamonn Fitzmaurice continues to reign supreme in Munster senior football. He’s the first manager since Mick O’Dwyer to achieve a provincial senior four-in-a-row with Kerry after the latest triumph arrived today. This success over Tipperary means Fitzmaurice’s record stands at nine wins and one draw from ten Munster games.

After conquering his local area, the attention now turns for Fitzmaurice to the national stage. There was clearly good facets to Kerry’s showing today but the worry about their rearguard being prised apart remains after the manner in which Tipperary plundered two goals.

Kerry have defeated a pair of Division 3 sides to date in the championship. The next engagements will tell where they truly stand.

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