The ‘Cats’ had only 5 lives, as Tipperary proved with their comprehensive 9 point win over old rivals Kilkenny, in the 2016 All Ireland Senior Hurling Championship held in Croke Park, Dublin, this afternoon.
Today’s event was Tipperary’s first triumph since 2010 and their 27th success over the years. Goals this afternoon came courtesy of John O’Dwyer and John McGrath, while 13 points left the hurl, with the razor sharp accuracy of a determined and focused Seamus Callanan, correctly identified as “Man of the Match”.
Today’s decider saw master-classes in hurling from the full 15 man Tipp outfit and especially from the Premier’s Noel McGrath, Seamus Callanan, John McGrath, Patrick ‘Bonner’ Maher and Padraic Maher; but all demonstrating sheer skill and determined ferocity.
For Michael Ryan, who took over as Tipp’s ‘Commander-in-Chief,’ his first management attempt must surely have given him more than just a little satisfaction, while taking on and defeating the well acknowledged skill and might of Kilkenny’s manager Brian Cody.
In what was a compelling first half match, both teams had levelled their scores 10 times before Munster Champions Tipperary produced two late points, leaving the scoreboard readings Kilkenny 0-12 Tipperary 0-14.
The first score, in what was to be a lively second half, came from a foul by Shane Prendergast on John McGrath and was pointed over by Tipp’s Seamus Callanan. Two points from Kilkenny’s Reid and a goal from Kevin Kelly around the 42 minute appeared to cause little concern to the Tipp side, who were back level by the 46 minute, thanks to points from Seamus Callanan and newly arrived substitute Jason Forde.
Tipperary appeared to show a greater hunger by the 50th minute, and were also demonstrating a freshness not often seen on a Tipperary team coming up to the final 20 minutes of play. Points from John ‘Bubbles’ O’Dwyer and Seamus Callanan saw Tipperary move ahead and then came the goal from ‘Bubbles’, and the scoreboard read Kilkenny 1-16 (19pts) to Tipperary 1-22 (25pts).
Six points in the lead; Tipperary looked a faster team at this stage of the match, but Kilkenny were hanging on as Tipp’s Noel McGrath passes to his younger brother John, who found the back of the net with yet another goal.
But there was life in the ‘Cats’ still and Kilkenny’s Richie Hogan retaliated with a second goal in the 63rd minute. The scoreboard read Kilkenny 2-19 (25pts) to Tipperary’s 2-26 (32pts). Could Kilkenny suddenly retaliate as oft seen before?
Later points from ‘Bonner’ Maher, Seamus Callanan ensured no such last minute Kilkenny resurrection; leading to a full-time score of Kilkenny 2-20 (26 pts) to Tipperary’s 2-29 (35pts).
Tipperary Team: D. Gleeson; C. Barrett; J. Barry; M. Cahill; S. Kennedy; R. Maher; Padraic Maher; B. Maher; M. Breen; D. McCormack; P. Maher; N. McGrath; J. McGrath; S. Callanan and J. O’Dwyer.
Subs: J. Forde for M.Breen; N. O’Meara for D. McCormack, D. Maher for M. Cahill, K. Bergin for N. McGrath, T. Hamill for S. Kennedy.
Referee: B. Gavin, (Co. Offaly).
Congratulations to the Tipperary Senior Team on their well deserved victory.