Some 21,447 bodies packed into Nowlan Park, Kilkenny this afternoon for the Allianz Hurling League final clash between old & serious rivals Tipperary & Kilkenny.
Kilkenny, playing with the wind, opening the scoring with a point from Lester Ryan. A second point came from Kilkenny’s Eoin Larkin, following a foul on Cillian Buckley by Tipperary’s Kieran Bergin. Within the first two minutes the scoreboard showed Kilkenny are 1-02 to Tipperary 0-00, after Michael Fennelly bursts through and rifled the ball into the Tipperary net.
Tipperary opened their scoring with a point from Eoin Kelly in the third minute, followed by a point from Patrick Maher from 50 yards out in the 5th min. The Premier County begin to settle and following an exchange of points between Michael Fennelly & Brendan Maher the scoreboard read Kilkenny 1-03 (6 Pts) – Tipperary 0-03 (3 Pts).
By the 15th minute Tipperary began to regain some composure. Two points from Noel McGrath & Seamus Callanan left just a point between the sides, but then Michael Fennelly cuts in from the right hand side of the goalmouth to rifle the Tipperary net. Kilkenny were now boasting 2-03 (9 Pts) to Tipperary’s 0-05 (5 Pts).
Following points from Tipperary’s Eoin Kelly, Brendan Maher, Noel McGrath and Kilkenny’s Michael Fennelly, both sides levelled, with 10 points apiece.
Come the period ending the first half, however, points from Kilkenny’s Colin Fennelly, Lester Ryan & Michael Fennelly, answered with just a point from Tipp goalkeeper Darren Gleeson, saw Kilkenny leave the pitch with a 2 point lead.
The second half saw Kilkenny’s Eoin Larkin & Tipperary’s Eoin Kelly & Noel McGrath open the scoring within the first three minutes. However what appeared to perhaps demonstrate some upping of Tipperary’s game was met with stiff resistance from Kilkenny.
Lar Corbett (Tipp) & J.J. Delaney (Kilkenny) both got red carded to the sideline while Tipperary’s Eoin Kelly was replaced by John O’Dwyer.
Point from Seamus Callanan & Brendan Maher in the 48th minute made it anyone’s game with the scoreboard reading 16 points apiece. But Tipperary badly needed to reclaim a goal to make any impact on their game, and alas this was not to materialise.
Points from Eoin Larkin, Cillian Buckley, Lester Ryan & Michael Rice however saw Kilkenny take the lead again despite the best efforts of Tipperary point scorers John O’Brien, Paudie Maher and Pa Bourke, leaving a full-time result reading Kilkenny 2-17 (23 Pts) to Tipperary’s 0-20 (20 Pts).
All in all the game between both rivals could hardly be described as a classic meeting, with Tipperary’s inside forward line failing to function to its usual high standard.
Overall performance on the day showed Kilkenny truly deserved to win their 16th league title this time out.
Tipperary: Darren Gleeson, Michael Cahill, Conor O’Mahony, Paul Curran, Kieran Bergin, Padriac Maher, Conor O’Bruen, Brendan Maher, Shane McGrath (Capt), Seamus Callanan, Lar Corbett, Patrick Maher, Shane Bourke, Eoin Kelly, Noel McGrath.
Kilkenny: Eoin Murphy, Paul Murphy, J.J. Delaney, Jackie Tyrrell, Tommy Walsh, Brian Hogan, Kieran Joyce, Lester Ryan, Michael Fennelly, Cillian Buckley, Michael Rice, Eoin Larkin, Colin Fennelly, Richie Hogan, Aidan Fogarty.
Man of the Match: Michael Fennelly (Kilkenny)
Yellow Cards: (Kilkenny) Brian Hogan, Shane Bourke & Paul Curran.
Red Cards: Lar Corbett (Tipperary) J.J. Delaney (Kilkenny)
Referee: Barry Kelly ( Westmeath.)