Cats slip again, but the pledge is that the All-Ireland will be won

Tipperary.............2-14 (20pts) Kilkenny..............1-16 (19pts)

Tipperary.............2-14 (20pts) Kilkenny..............1-16 (19pts)

Scorers: Tipperary - Eoin Ryan (1-7, five points frees); Jamie Bergin (1-1); Tommy Heffernan, Niall O’Meara (0-2 each); Joe Cleary, Thomas Cleary (0-1 each). Kilkenny - Conor Martin (0-6, five frees, one 65); Lee Kinsella (1-1); Jamie Ryan, Conor Walsh (0-3 each); Liam Hickey (0-2); Denis Lennon (0-1).

FOR THE second year running Kilkenny bit the dust in the All-Ireland vocational schools senior hurling championship final, but they are getting there and soon victory will be theirs.

“The All-Ireland win will come,” was the confident prediction form Kilkenny manager, Derek Dooley, after the Cats fell to talented Tipperary again, this time under lights in the wind and rain at Ballyragget. “We pack our bags and go now, but we will be back to drive on again next year. The experience these guys have gained is priceless.”

Three years ago Kilkenny didn’t field in this competition, but Mr Dooley, who is involved with the Kilkenny minor team this season, and some colleagues in the VEC system throughout the county provided the drive to re-launch things.

“It never made sense to me that Kilkenny could not field a hurling team in a hurling competition,” the Thomastown based teacher insisted. “Last year’s group really grabbed the challenge and gave us super commitment. Getting to the All-Ireland final then was fabulous. Again, we could have won.

“The pride of playing in the black and amber is huge with the players. They got the whole inter-county experience between the training set-up, the way they were treated and looked after. They got all the experience an inter-county team would get.

Ryan the hero

“Hopefully they will bring all that experience back to their clubs and they will be the better for it.”

Tipperary took the honours thanks to a last minute point from Offaly minor star, Eoin Ryan, who was the top scorer with 1-7. It may have been a battle against the elements, with the driving rain and wind making life extremely difficult for the players while the underfoot conditions were like a skating rink, but the deciding scoring was simplicity itself.

Niall O’Meara was fouled about 45 metres out in front of the town end goal. It wasn’t a challenging effort for Ryan, even in the conditions, and he duly rose the white. There was barly time for Kilkenny to puck-out the ball and get to the opposing ‘50’ before the last whistle was blown.

Things had started ever so well for the losers. Boosted by an excellent goal in the third minutes from Leo Kinsella, with an assist by Jamie Ryan, they zoomed 1-1 to 0-1 ahead. By the 12th minute they were 1-5 to 0-4 clear with Conor Walsh (2), free taker Conor Martin and Jamie Ryan, a great score from a bad angle after being put into space by Willie Brennan, and things were looking good.

Tipperary rejigged their attack to great effect. Talented corner-forward James Ryan moved to the wing and No. 12 Niall O’Meara to midfield. Slowly they caught hold of the game. By the 17th minute they were level (1-5), the goal coming from Ryan, who first timed a ground ball to the net after being palced by Tommy Heffernan.

By the 22nd minute they were 2-7 to 1-6 clear - an eight point turn around from their worst position - with the second goal being put away by Jamie Bergin. Late score from Martin, Lee Kinsella and Liam Hickey from an awful angle helped the Cats reduce the deficit to 1-9 to 2-8 by the half-way mark.

A sea-saw affair

Things looked really promising for Kilkenny again when they opened the new half with back-to-back points from Liam Hickey and Conor Walsh to draw level before the 32nd minute. It was a sea-saw affair after that - the scores were level five times - until Eoin Ryan had the final, late and deciding say.

Ryan, of course, was the hero for the winners, while Niall O’Meara, James Ryan, Eanna Hogan and Joe Cleary played really well too. Kilkenny had mighty men in Barry Whelan, Willie Brennan, Lactain O Cinneide, Conor Martin, Brian O Murchu, James Ryan and Conor Walsh.

Kilkenny VS - Dylan Walsh (Sc Aireagail/Thomastown), Damien Ahearne (Abbey CC), Lactain O Cinneide (Col Phobail Osrai), Dean Power (Abbey CC), Barry Whelan (Grennan College), Brian O Murchu (Col Pobail Osrai), Niall Madden (Col Cois Suire), Willie Brennan (Scoil Mhuire), Denis Lennon (Scoil Mhuire), Conor Walsh (Gaimscohoile An Aonaigh), Josh Tobin (Abbey CC), Conor Martin (Scoil Mhuire), Liam Hickey (Scoil Mhuire), Lee Kinsella (Duiske College, Graignamangh), Jamie Ryan (Scoil Mhuire). Sub - Ger Malone.

Unused subs - Gary Mason, Anthony Farrell, Bernard Hennessy, Paddy Foran, Luke Blanchfield, James Kenny, Donal Wilson, Benny Quinn, Jack Glendon, Sean Malone, Seamus Burchell, David O’Gorman, Sean Duggan, Kevin McNamara, William Moylan, Anthony Kearney.

Tipperary VS - J. Sampson, A. Conran, C. Bergin, C. O’Riordan, J. Ryan, E. Hogan, M. Collier, S. Dooley, J. Cleary, T. Heffernan, T. Cleary, N. O’Meara, J. Bergin, E. Ryan, J. Ryan. Sub - T. Nolan.

Referee - A. Stapleton (Laois).