Kerry eventually proved too good for the hosts at a sun drenched Thurles as the All Ireland runners-up won on a scoreline on 0-16 to 0-10.
Kerry never got into fifth gear while Tipperary to their credit battled hard and can consider themselves unlucky not to have finished closer to the 33 times All-Ireland champions. Some wayward shooting and good saves from Brendan Kealy were the major deciding points of the game in the end.
Kerry led by 0-09 to 0-06 at the end of an interesting first half, Colm Cooper led the scoring with three points and Bryan Sheehan (2) accounting for most of their scores. Late white flags from debutant Michael Quinivan and Alan Maloney kept Peter Creedon’s charges in touch at the interval.
Tipperary lost centre back Robbie Costigan who was injured during the first half and they struggled to recover from his influence from there.
Tipperary had raced into an early 0-03 to 0-01 lead through pointed frees from Michael Quinlivan and Alan Maloney as well as one from play from Peter Acheson. Kerry’s score came from a Declan O’Sullivan free but the Premier were playing well with ten minutes played.
Colm Cooper’s first shot at the target drifted wide. The hosts had started well and their hunger was underlined by three excellent blocks inside a minute in their full-back line. Eoin Brosnan showed his quality with a spectacular piece of fielding but the Kingdom were unable to make possession count.
Kerry were looking rusty early doors and Tipperary knew they’d have to take advantage of that.
Footballer of the Year for 2004Tomas O Se sliced over a sublime Kerry point off the outside of his right foot. Kerry’s next attack came to nothing when Patrick Curtin was penalised for two hops but Cooper was on hand to bang over the leveller on 15 minutes.
Darran O’Sullivan, O’Leary and midfielder Anthony Maher all fired over Kerry points to make it 0-7 to 0-4 after 26 minutes. O’Sullivan and O’Leary both had goal chances but opted to take their points.
Tipp didn’t roll over though and nicked the last two points to trail by three at the break.
Maloney pointed an early second half to take his tally 0-04 – and Tipp were within striking distance at 0-10 to 0-8 with Maloney the game’s leading scorer.
Tipperary then had a great goal chance with Hugh Coughlan running through the open chasm that was the Kerry defence. His shot was well saved by Brendan Kealy who managed to divert the ball over his crossbar.
Jack O’Connor reacted by introducing Kieran Donaghy in place of the ineffective Galvin after Sheehan had knocked over a simple free from in front of the posts. At the other end, Quinlivan hit the post with an equally-easy free that he should have converted.
Donaghy won a free and almost lost his jersey with Sheehan again hitting the target to make it a three-point game after 50 minute. When Cooper notched another with 60 seconds, it was a four point game; 0-13 to 0-09.
Declan O’Sullivan stretched Kerry’s lead but Acheson replied with an excellent Tipp score on 57 minutes – 0-14 to 0-10. Ciaran McDonald and Donaghy picked up a yellow card each for wrestling off the ball.
Quinlivan lashed a goal effort wide before O’Donoghue restored the Kingdom’s five point lead with nine minutes to go as the game petered out.
Sheehan notched an injury time free for the winners before Kealy made another save to keep the winning margin to six points with virtually the last play of the game.
Kerry now face ancient rivals Cork in the Munster semi-final in two weeks’ time while Tipperary go into the qualifiers.
Kerry: Brendan Kealy; Shane Enright, Daniel Bohan, Killian Young; Tomas O Se (0-1), Eoin Brosnan, Peter Crowley; Anthony Maher (0-1), Bryan Sheehan (0-6); Paul Galvin, Darran O’Sullivan (0-1), Kieran O’Leary (0-1); Colm Cooper (0-4), Declan O’Sullivan (0-1), Patrick Curtin. Subs: Kieran Donaghy, Brian Maguire, Barry John Keane, James O’Donoghue (0-1), Aidan O’Mahony.
Tipperary: Paul Fitzgerald; Andrew Morrissey, Paddy Codd , Ciaran McDonald; Brian Fox, Robbie Costigan, Alan Campbell ; George Hannigan, Hugh Coghlan (0-1); Lorcan Egan, Peter Acheson (0-2), Shane Scully; Alan Maloney (0-4), Michael Quinlivan (0-2), Philip Austin (0-1). Subs: Donagh Leahy, Richie Ryan, Bernard O’Brien, Aldo Matasa.