Geaney fires Kerry to victory over dogged Tipp
KERRY 3-17 TIPPERARY 2-10
Paul Geaney produced a superb individual display as Kerry eventually eased their way to victory over Tipperary in Killarney.
Yet, underdogs Tipp threatened to tear up the script when they stunned their hosts with a goal in the first minute.
Jimmy Feehan burst through the Kerry defence unopposed and beat Brian Kelly with his shot as Liam Kearns' men suggested they weren't here to simply make up the numbers.
Geaney kicked Kerry's first two scores of the match, either side of a Michael Quinlivan free for Tipperary.
The Kingdom began to wake up as defender Killian Young's long-range effort was followed by a Bryan Sheehan free to draw them level.
Two frees from Kevin O'Halloran put Tipp back in front but Kerry responded in typical fashion by finding the net for the first time when wing forward Paul Murphy slipped the ball into the bottom corner of the net.
Kerry never looked back from that goal and the gulf in class between the two teams gradually became evident.
Darren O'Sullivan stretched their lead to two points before Geaney landed a killer blow, rifling the ball into the bottom corner to put daylight between the sides.
Further points from Murphy and Sheehan followed before O'Halloran finally ended a 17-minute spell without a score for Tipp with a close-range free on the stroke of half time.
Kerry led 2-7 to 1-4 at the end off a half that saw them lose key marksman Gooch Cooper with a suspected shoulder injury.
Tipperary needed a fast start to the second half but, to the dismay of their travelling supporters, they kicked three wides in the opening two minutes.
Kerry made no mistake at the other end with another Sheehan free and a Stephen O'Brien point pushing them eight points clear.
Tipp responded with a 45 from O'Halloran and they almost grabbed a second goal when a Quinlivan shot produced a fine save from Kelly.
The visitors were made to pay for that missed opportunity as the following five minutes saw Dingle man Geaney end the game as a contest and nail down the man-of-the-match award.
Geaney kicked a fine point before grabbing his second goal of the game, taking on the Tipp defence and cooly slotting the ball into the bottom corner to the delight of the home crowd.
To their credit, Tipperary fought back bravely and they reduced the gap to six points again through a Robbie Kiely goal and two points from the impressive O'Halloran.
Quinlivan, who set up the second goal, caused the Kerry full-back line serious problems time and again and he helped himself to three points.
Ultimately, though, Kerry had too much firepower for the Premier County and their subs added gloss to the final scoreline, with James O'Donoghue kicking three points on his return and Barry John Keane also getting himself on the scoresheet.
Kerry ran out comfortable ten-point winners in the end but their overall performance was below par and Eamonn Fitzmaurice will be particularly concerned that his side conceded 2-10 against a Division 3 side who missed several other opportunities to add to their tally.
Clearly, Kerry have plenty to work on ahead of a potential All-Ireland semi-final meeting with Dublin.