Kilkenny’s winding championship road

KILKENNY have gone down a winding route to get to the All-Ireland final replay. Here, taken from the pages of the Kilkenny People, is their path to Dublin, charting the five stops they’ve taken on the championship road:

KILKENNY have gone down a winding route to get to the All-Ireland final replay. Here, taken from the pages of the Kilkenny People, is their path to Dublin, charting the five stops they’ve taken on the championship road:

“Classy Cats destroy Dublin and silence critics of their style”

(Leinster SHC semi-final, June 23 in Portlaoise)

Kilkenny 2-21

Dublin 0-9

FANS HAD been warned about an impending ferocious storm, but it turned out to be no more than a squall. And after well walked and well-versed Kilkenny coped with the mild enough buffeting they simply let rip.

It was all over by half-time really, the place in the Leinster senior hurling championship final against Galway on July 8 virtually sealed and in the bag.

This tasty performance left no room for talk of Kilkenny’s power, physical hurling. This was classy hurling by classy players! Those who suggest Kilkenny all but bully opponents through their physicality had their arguments rendered redundant here. Hurling won the day, nothing else!

“That was a good performance, strong in all departments,” was the summary from Brian Cody. “We played well. The focus was good, the effort was good and the intensity was good.”

Kilkenny - David Herity, Paul Murphy, J.J. Delaney, Jackie Tyrrell, Tommy Walsh, Brian Hogan, Richie Doyle, Cillian Buckley, Paddy Hogan (0-2), Henry Shefflin (0-10, 0-9 frees, 0-1 65), T.J. Reid (1-2), Eoin Larkin (0-2), Colin Fennelly, Richie Power (1-3), Richie Hogan (0-2). Subs: Noel Hickey for Delaney (inj), 47 mins; Aidan Fogarty for Buckley, 53 mins; Matthew Ruth for Fennelly, 56 mins; Kieran Joyce for Walsh, 61 mins; John Tennyson for B. Hogan, 68 mins.

Dublin - Gary Maguire, Niall Corcoran, Peter Kelly, Tomas Brady, Stephen Hiney, Joseph Boland, Michael Carton, John McCaffrey, Shane Durkin, Conor McCormack, Danny Sutcliffe (0-1), Conal Keaney, Paul Ryan (0-4, 0-3 frees), Liam Rushe, Ryan O’Dwyer (0-1). Subs: David Treacy (0-1) for Keaney (inj), 14 mins; Rory Trainor for Corcoran, 28 mins; Alan McCrabbe (0-1, free) for McCormack, 34 mins; Ross O’Carroll for Durkin, 36 mins; David O’Callaghan (0-1) for Ryan, 49 mins.

Referee - Barry Kelly (Westmeath). Attendance - 12,446.

“Champs left stunned as O’Keeffe heads West”

(Leinster SHC final, July 8 in Croke Park)

Galway 2-21

Kilkenny 2-11

SPORT, like life, can often throw forward a surprise or two. In that context Sunday’s Leinster final could be considered as the shock of the season as Kilkenny surrendered their Leinster senior hurling crown to a fired-up Galway.

Although they went into the game as raging favourites the Cats struggled to get into rhythm. Try as the might, they couldn’t impose themselves on the opposition. Further proof that Kilkenny were out of sorts in the opening stages of the game came via the scoreboard. It took 20 minutes before they registered their first score, a free from Henry Shefflin. Incidentally, the resulting puck-out was also the first time Galway’s netminder James Skehill had the sliotar in his grasp....

Kilkenny - David Herity, Paul Murphy, Noel Hickey, Jackie Tyrrell, Tommy Walsh, Brian Hogan, Richie Doyle, Cillian Buckley, Paddy Hogan, Henry Shefflin (1-8, 0-7 frees), T.J. Reid, Eoin Larkin, Colin Fennelly, Richie Power (0-2), Richie Hogan (1-0). Subs: Aidan Fogarty for Fennelly, 23 mins; Michael Rice (0-1) for P. Hogan, 27 mins; Matthew Ruth for Reid, 57 mins.

Galway - James Skehill, David Collins (0-1), Kevin Hynes, Fergal Moore, Niall Donoghue, Tony Og Regan, Johnny Coen, Iarla Tannian, Andy Smith, David Burke (1-2), Niall Burke (0-2), Cyril Donnellan (0-5), Conor Cooney, Joe Canning (1-10, 0-7 frees), Damien Hayes (0-1). Subs: Jonathan Glynn for Cooney, 53 mins; James Regan for Tannian, 57 mins; Tadhg Haran for N. Burke, 61 mins; Joseph Cooney for Donnellan, 70 mins.

Referee - James McGrath (Westmeath).

Attendance - 22,171.

“Average Kilkenny, excellent Kilkenny, but crowd-pulling semi against Tipp is booked”

(All-Ireland SHC quarter-final, July 29 in Semple Stadium)

Kilkenny 4-16

Limerick 1-16

THERE was a tale of two sides of the Kilkenny character to be told following this concern prompting and yet impressive victory in the All-Ireland senior hurling quarter-final in Thurles.

The concern centred around an edgy, unsure opening half during which the defending All-Ireland champions looked ill at ease, prompting thoughts that maybe they had been scarred by the recent collapse in the Leinster final against Galway. However, for all the ills and shortcoming of their opening half play on Sunday, the Kilkenny hurling during the second period was compelling, full of fire and brimstone, slick and clever movement of ball and personnel; deadly in the execution of the game plan, plus the opposition. This was the prowling Cats of old as they clinched a place in their 16th consecutive All-Ireland semi-final!

Kilkenny - David Herity, Paul Murphy, J.J. Delaney, Jackie Tyrrell, Tommy Walsh (0-1), Kieran Joyce, Richie Doyle, Michael Rice, Michael Fennelly (0-1), Eoin Larkin (0-1), Richie Power (0-1, free), Henry Shefflin (2-6, 0-4 frees), Colin Fennelly (1-3), Richie Hogan (0-1), Aidan Fogarty (1-2). Subs - T.J. Reid for Power (inj), 35 mins; Cillian Buckley for Fogarty, 65 mins; Matthew Ruth for Larkin, 65 mins.

Limerick - Nickie Quaid, Stephen Walsh, Richie McCarthy, Tom Condon, Wayne McNamara, Donal O’Grady, Gavin O’Mahony, James Ryan, Paudie O’Brien (0-1), Shane Dowling (0-4, 0-3 frees), David Breen, Declan Hannon (0-4, 0-1 free), Graeme Mulcahy (0-2), Niall Moran (0-1), Seanie Tobin (0-1). Subs: Seamus Hickey for Condon (inj), 36 mins; Kevin Downes (0-1) for Breen, 53 mins; Paul Browne for S. Dowling, 59 mins; Tommy Quaid (0-1) for Tobin, 63 mins.

Referee - Michael Wadding (Waterford). Attendance - 38,116.

“Super Cats blast Tipp into oblivion”

(All-Ireland SHC semi-final, August 18 in Croke Park)

Kilkenny 4-24

Tipperary 1-15

BE IT via the main highway, the byway, the laneway or whatever, it makes no different to sure firing Kilkenny!

The Cats, derailed after a shock Leinster final defeat by Galway, arrived in Croke Park on Sunday by a circuitous route that took in the All-Ireland quarter-finals, but in the most difficult of semi-finals they detonated a hurling bomb and simply blasted Tipperary into oblivion. No one expected this, a double scores win, by either side in an All-Ireland senior hurling semi-final between supposed equals. No one saw it coming, not even at half-time when Tipperary led by 1-10 to 1-9. The scoring returns afterwards shouted a story of nothing but a rout - Kilkenny 3-15; Tipperary 0-5. Kilkenny were stupendous. Tipp were beaten out the door, out of championship 2012. And, wait for it, the Cats qualified for a crack at what could be an incredible 9th MacCarthy Cup win in the 13 season reign of manager, Brian Cody. And it could be the completion of another National League/Championship double, it should be remembered. Oh yes, and Henry (Shefflin) could end up being crowned the official ‘King’ at last because he will be chasing a never before achieved ninth winners medal along with Noel Hickey.

Kilkenny - David Herity, Paul Murphy, J.J. Delaney, Jackie Tyrrell, Tommy Walsh, Brian Hogan (0-1), Kieran Joyce, Michael Fennelly (0-1), Michael Rice (0-1), Henry Shefflin (0-11, 0-9 frees, 0-1 65), T.J. Reid (2-2), Eoin Larkin (1-0), Colin Fennelly (0-1), Richie Power (0-3, 0-1 free, 0-1 65), Aidan Fogarty (1-3). Subs: Cillian Buckley (0-1) for Rice (inj), 17 mins; Matthew Ruth for C. Fennelly, 63 mins; Noel Hickey for Murphy, 63 mins; Richie Doyle for Joyce, 63 mins; Conor Fogarty for A. Fogarty, 66 mins.

Tipperary - Brendan Cummins, Conor O’Brien, Paul Curran, Michael Cahill, Thomas Stapleton, Conor O’Mahony (0-1), Padraic Maher, Brendan Maher, Shane McGrath (0-1), Pa Bourke (1-8, 0-4 frees, 0-4 65), Patrick Maher, Lar Corbett, Brian O’Meara, John O’Brien (0-1), Noel McGrath (0-2). Subs: Shane Bourke for B. O’Meara, 45 mins; Paddy Stapleton for T. Stapleton, 46 mins; Donagh Maher for P. Curran, 60 mins; John O’Neill (0-2) for J. O’Brien, 62 mins; James Woodlock for B. Maher, 65 mins.

Referee - Cathal McAllister (Cork). Attendance - 50,220.

“Cat-atomic, nerve tingling, thunderous and we get to do it all over again”

(All-Ireland SHC final, September 9 in Croke Park)

Kilkenny 0-19

Galway 2-13

THE finger pointing and blame game began even before the final whistle sounded, but that matters not a jot. Now is the time to get priorities right!

The All-Ireland hurling final replay between defending champions and National League/Championship double chasers, Kilkenny and Galway on Sunday, September 30 has to be dealt with. That is the only thing that matters. Whether referee, Barry Kelly, got the late call right or wrong that led to Galway being awarded a free from which Joe Canning shot the equalising point with 72 minutes and 39 seconds showing on the clock doesn’t matter. Round II of this intriguing tale awaits and must be dealt with. There is nothing to be served by the county tearing itself asunder arguing about ‘being robbed’ or otherwise. Move on!

“There has to be more in the team, “ Kilkenny manager, Brian Cody suggested when we spoke in the dressing-room after Sunday’s Cat-atomic, thunderous, heart-stopping All-Ireland final. “To win we will have to have more. If we play the same the next day we won’t win the game. “We are going to have to play better than we played today. The players have to look for more. They have to look for more, “ he repeated.

Kilkenny - David Herity, Paul Murphy, J.J. Delaney, Jackie Tyrrell, Tommy Walsh, Brian Hogan, Kieran Joyce, Michael Fennelly, Richie Hogan (0-1), Henry Shefflin (0-12, 0-10 frees, 0-1 pen), T.J. Reid (0-2), Eoin Larkin (0-2), Colin Fennelly, Richie Power (0-1), Aidan Fogarty (0-1). Sub: Matthew Ruth for C. Fennelly, 62 mins.

Galway - James Skehill, Johnny Coen, Kevin Hynes, Fergal Moore, Niall Donoghue (0-1), Tony Og Regan, David Collins, Iarla Tannian, Andrew Smith (0-1), David Burke, Niall Burke (1-2), Cyril Donnellan, Damien Hayes, Joe Canning (1-9, 0-8 frees), James Regan. Subs: Conor Cooney for J. Regan, 51 mins; Jonathan Glynn for C. Cooney, 60 mins; Joseph Cooney for N. Burke, 62 mins; Davy Glennon for D. Hayes, 67 mins.

Referee - Barry Kelly (Westmeath). Attendance - 81,932.