Kilkenny’s numbers came up big time in Croke Park this afternoon when they won an incredible All-Ireland senior hurling final replay.
The Cats beat Tipperary to win their 35th MacCarthy Cup. Into the bargain Henry Shefflin won a never before achieved 10th All-Ireland senior medal, and manager, Brian Cody, claimed a 10th victory in his role too.
“It was a superb win for a superb group of men,” Cody insisted after Tipp were beaten by 2-17 to 2-14.
This was some game. The drawn match three weeks ago was hailed as one of the best of all time. The replay was possibly better, as two hugely talented teams produced another thrill a minute clash during which fortunes swayed to and fro.
Kilkenny had slightly the better of things early on and led by 0-4 to 0-2 after 11 minutes. The big score of the opening half was Tipperary’s goal in the 28th minute from Seamus Callanan. That put them 1-5 to 0-6 ahead and carried them into a slim interval lead of 1-7 to 0-8.
Kilkenny burst out of traps from the start of the new half. They reeled off five points in-a-row through the magnificent Richie Power and Colin Fennelly (3) before T.J. Reid scored a free to jump 0-13 to 1-7 in front.
If Tipp had been the more threatening in terms of goal chances during the first half, the Cats were the more dangerous looking team this time. Power was wonderful up front. Michael Fennelly was superb in midfield, but the entire defence was superb in the closing half, with Kieran Joyce in a class of his own.
The game looked to be edging away from Tipp when Richie Power got to the end of a sideline cut from Michael Fennelly in the 59th minute before lashing home a goal at the Hill 16 end (1-15 to 1-11). That wasn’t the case.
Eamon O’Shea’s men stormed back. They were hit for a second goal in the 62nd minute, this time by John Power, after the initial shot by Michael Fennelly had been blocked out (2-15 to 1-12).
Again Tipp charged back. They had a goal from Seamus Callanan in the 69th minute, and the Cats had to battle through three minutes of additional time before celebrating their latest success.
Scorers: Kilkenny - T.J. Reid (0-5); John Power, Richie Power (1-1 each); Colin Fennelly (0-4); Eoin Larkin, Richie Hogan (0-2 each); Padraig Walsh, Michael Fennelly (0-1 each). Tipperary - Seamus Callanan (2-5); John O’Dwyer, Shane McGrath (0-3 each); Noel McGrath (0-2); B. Maher (0-1).
Attendance - 81,753.