Cathal Sheerin has all the action from this years Hurling final replay.
Once again, ambulance for the third year in a row, salve the cobbles of Jones’ Road were trod by eager hurling fans, mind salivating at the prospect of another immense sporting spectacle in Croke Park. This year Kilkenny and Tipperary came up even on the first September weekend and had to do it all again for the right to the Liam McCarthy.
There was reason to suspect a different type of game this time around. For one the teams had played each other and had a sense of the other’s strengths. Secondly, the changes made by Kilkenny manager Brian Cody hinted at a different approach, where as Eamon O’Shea stuck to his guns.
And so it was that a different tactical war ensued. Tipperary started with the lovely, fast moving forward play they have championed all summer and it seemed to work with fine opening scores from Shane McGrath and Noel McGrath. 8 minutes ticked by until Richie Hogan registered a score for the black and amber.
The new defensive Kilkenny showed their resolve, as Tiperrary full forward Seamus Callinan was bearing down on goal, JJ Delaney tracked him back and put in a magnificent hook to deny Tipperary a goal. The response from the Kilkenny fans was electric as they cheered their full back for his effort. Shortly after however, Lar Corbett was on the ball after it broke and running for goal a selfless hand pass to Callinan who was free, saw the ball end up in tbe back of the net. Tipp looked good. But in all of this Kilkenny only ever trailed by a point or two.
The second half started and with immediacy a new verve and energy was present in Kilkenny. Colin Fennelly opened his scoring record with two fine points one of which was set up by Kilkenny wingback and UCD student Cillian Buckley.
A mesmirising phase of play occurred with all the skill and style of a Tipperary v Kilkenny final. There were blocks, hooks, hassling and harrying – an exhibition of defending. Bonner Maher hassled for the ball spilled it out towards Seamus Callinan who was blocked, then Bubbles O’Dwyer claimed it only to be blocked then Noel McGrath tried to make space but was pressurised by 3 Kilkenny backs and ultimately Jackie Tyrrel came up with the ball and launched it into the path of corner forward John Power. The UCD hurler was able to put it over the bar and seize the momentum for the Cats.
It wasn’t long until Power was crushing Tipp harts again. Following a messy scramble inside their box and a fine save from Darren Gleeson, the ball was somehow gathered by Michael Fennelly who let rip at the sliotar only to be denied by Gleeson, but again Power pounced and the ball hit the netting almost sealing the deal for Brian Cody’s men.
A late retaliation by Tipp and a goal from Seamus Callinan was not enough and Kilkenny ran out convincing winners after a sterling display at GAA Headquarters. Their doggedness, determination and work ethic from 1 to 15 including their tactical decision to play man to man helped ensure Liam McCarthy will be resting in the marble city over the winter. The full time score Kilkenny 2-17 Tipperary 2-14
Photo Credit: RTE.ie