A SUPERB second half, which saw them out-score the opposition by a whopping 3-15 to 0-5, shot champions Kilkenny through to another All-Ireland senior hurling final, winning by 4-24 to 1-15, writes John Knox.
On September 9 at Croke Park against Leinster champions, Galway, the Cats will be chasing their 33rd McCarthy Cup success and an incredible ninth title during the reign of manager, Brian Cody.
During a tough, sometimes bitter semi-final against Tipperary in Croke Park yesterday the Cats simply turned up the heat during the second half to burn off the opposition after being led by 1-10 to 1-9 at the break.
There was an explosive start to the match when players tangled with each other all over the park, as both sides set out their stall. Kilkenny adopted a close man marking system, with Jackie Tyrrell reassigned from corner to wing back to mark Lar Corbett, as in last year’s All-Ireland final, with Kieran Joyce moving to No. 4.
The game was no more than one minute and 47 seconds old when Tommy Walsh was booked, and for some reason Corbett chased him around for the rest of the match as if trying to provoke a reaction that might lead to another booking, which would have ended his involvement in the match.
Walsh just played away and turned in a star performance as his might be tormentor turned in a showing that amounted to nothing.
The hurling was top class, fast and tough, during the opening 20 minutes or so and four times parity was shared, the last time at 0-7 each. Kilkenny hit a purple patch after that and with the aid of a terrific goal from T.J. Reid, with an assist by Henry Shefflin, they dashed 1-9 to 0-7 clear.
Tipp hit back for a goal through Pa Bourke following the winners’ big score, and with some lovely points from the same player and Noel McGrath they drew level for the fifth time. At half time a point from a 65 by Bourke separated the teams as Tipp led by 1-10 to 1-9.
Within a minute of the restart the Cats drew level when Henry Shefflin, who will be chasing a record 9th All-Ireland winners medal in the final with colleague Noel Hickey, converted a free. Twice during the following six minutes the scores were level, but once Richie Power pointed Kilkenny in front from a huge 80 metre free in the 42nd minute they simply took over the game (1-13 to 1-12).
Power extended the lead when he converted a 65. A brilliant goal from a deadly Aidan Fogarty followed, the Emeralds (Urlingford) man latching on to a ball broken on the ‘40’ by a defender before bursting towards the target and unleashing a sizzling drive at full pace from 20 metres. This was some strike!
Tipp hit back for a minor from Pa Bourke, which was to be their only score during a barren 19 minute spell. Before the losers scored again, Cillian Buckley, Shefflin (3) and T.J. Reid all pointed and Eoin Larkin and T.J. Reid plundered great goals, the first after Larkin won a yard of space when an opponent stumbled and the second after the Shamrocks man danced between two opponents to make space.
This was Kilkenny in blinding form, out-playing and out-working the opposition to an alarming degree.
With the difference out to a massive 4-19 to 1-13 it was all over for Tipperary, even with 10 minutes remaining.
“That was a very good performance,” was the summary from Kilkenny manager, Brian Cody. “The final will be something different, but we are looking forward to it.”
Scorers: Kilkenny – Henry Shefflin (0-11, nine frees, one 65); T.J. Reid (2-2); Aidan Fogarty (1-3); Richie Power (0-3, one free, one 65); Eoin Larkin (1-0); Brian Hogan, Michael Fennelly, Michael Rice, Colin Fennelly, Cillian Buckley (0-1 each). Tipperary – Pa Bourke (1-8, four frees, four 65s’); Noel Maher, John O’Neill (0-2 each); Conor O’Mahony, Shane McGrath, John O’Brien (0-1 each).
Kilkenny – David Herity, Paul Murphy, J.J. Delaney, Jackie Tyrrell, Tommy Walsh, Brian Hogan, Kieran Joyce, Michael Fennelly, Michael Rice, Henry Shefflin, T.J. Reid, Eoin Larkin, Colin Fennelly, Richie Power, Aidan Fogarty. Subs – Cillian Buckley for Rice (inj) 17th min; Matthew Ruth for C. Fennelly 63rd min; Noel Hickey for Murphy 63rd min; Richie Doyle for Joyce 63rd min; Conor Fogarty for A. Fogarty 66th min.
Tipperary – Brendan Cummins, Conor O’Brien, Paul Curran, Michael Cahill, Thomas Stapleton, Conor O’Mahony, Padraic Maher, Brendan Maher, Shane McGrath, Pa Bourke, Patrick Maher, Lar Corbett, Brian O’Meara, John O’Brien, Noel McGrath. Subs – Shane Bourke for B. O’Meara 45th min; Paddy Stapleton for T. Stapleton 46th min; Donagh Maher for P. Curran 60th min; John O’Neill for J. O’Brien 62nd min; James Woodlock for B. Maher 65th min.
Referee – Cathal McAllister (Cork).