Corner back Paddy Deegan was the star man for Kilkenny
Kilkenny 2-23 Tipperary 2-17
Kilkenny, the early strugglers and apparently no hopers in the National Hurling League, turned on the style big time at Nowlan Park today when they roared to a terrific victory over Tipperary in a top class final.
Tipp were slightly the better team during the first half, but when they conceded a goal to Walter Walsh within 30 seconds of the restart the match turned violently against them. The home side charged away to score their fifth win in the final over their great rivals since 2003.
The victory was Kilkenny's 18th in the League. They now stand just one behind Tipp in the roll of honour.
The Cats have put an unbeaten run together since losing to Clare in February. This performances was their best by some distance, and the crowd loved it; flocking on to the pitch to celebrate with enthusiasm at the finish.
"Now the work begins for the Leinster championship," was the response from pleased manager, Brian Cody afterwards.
After Walsh scored that early second half goal, leaving his marker apparently flat footed after fielding a high ball from Conor Delaney, the game turned. The score was level at 1-12 each in the 38th minute, but Walsh's goal worked wonders for Kilkenny.
It was as if a switched had been flicked, and the team effort simply took off.
John Donnelly blasted over the lead point in the 39th minute as Tipp were hit for six points against one reply before Jason Forde shot their second point of the half in the 58th minute (1-18 to 1-14).
Back roared Kilkenny, with Liam Blanchfield and Reid at the double helping to tighten their grip on things as they opened out a 1-21 to 1-14 lead.
The winners were simply flying; Paddy Deegan the star man at corner-back. Reid was also in top form as were James Maher, Cillian Buckley, Enda Morrissey and Walsh while subs Luke Scanlon, Conor Fogarty and Liam Blanchfield also made big things happen when they came on.
When Conor Fogarty raced on to a breaking ball in the 63rd minute to race through for Kilkenny's second goal (2-23 to 1-17) the home fans in the crowd of 17,608 nearly blew the roof off the stands as they celebrated wildly. The title went from Tipp in that moment.
Tipperary opened backed by the fresh wind and they led for all but two minutes of the first half as they produced slightly the better hurling. A big score of 1-6 by flying full-forward and free taker, Jason Forde played a huge part in getting Tipp into an interval lead of 1-10 to 0-11.
The visitors opened with a brace of points from Forde, one a free when a Kilkenny player over-carried the ball around midfield. The home side eventually caught up in the 17th minute, T.J. Reid shooting the equaliser following a foul on Richie Leahy (0-4 each).
The next two points were exchanged before Kilkenny hit the front for the one and only time in the half when Reid, who shot two wonderful points during the half after claiming the ball from the sky, edged them 0-6 to 0-5 clear in the 22nd minute.
Within two minutes Tipp had turned the tables big time. First Forde blasted to the net from 14 metres on the left when placed in space by a lovely pass from John McGrath. Within seconds Michael Breen placed Sean Curran for a score to up the divide to 1-6 to 0-6.
T.J. Reid (free) stopped the rot as Kilkenny found it had to cope with Tipp's free flowing play. On the half hour Reid shot his first super point after fielding the ball over the head of an opponent to cut the gap to the minimum, 0-9 to 1-7.
Tipp, with Forde always a threat, kept their sure and steady play going and they were worthy leaders at the break. Kilkenny were about to rev up, however, and when they began to motor they simply drove away from the opposition.
SCORERS: Kilkenny - T.J. Reid (0-15, 11 frees); W. Walsh (1-2); C. Fogarty (1-0); J. Donnelly (0-2); E. Murphy (0-1, free); R. Leahy, M. Keoghan, L. Blanchfield (0-1 each). Tipperary - J. Forde (2-12, 1-10 frees); J. McGrath (0-2); S. Kennedy, S. Curran, W. Connors (0-1 each).
Kilkenny - E. Murphy; J. Holden, P. Walsh, P. Deegan; C. Delaney, C. Buckley, E. Morrissey; R. Leahy, J. Maher; M. Keoghan, T.J. Reid, J. Donnelly; B. Sheehan, W. Walsh, A. Murphy. Subs - L. Blanchfield for A. Murphy 40th min; L. Scanlon for b. Sheehan 43rd min; C. Fogarty for Leahy 47th min; C. Martin for Donnelly 62nd min.
Tipperary - D. Mooney; A. Flynn, J. Barry, M. Cahill; B. Heffernan, P. Maher, R. Maher; B. Maher, S. Kennedy; S. Curran, B. McCarthy, J. McGrath; M. Breen, J. Forde, W. Connors. Sub - J. O'Dwyer for M. Breen ht; C. Barrett for S. Kennedy 44th min; M. Russell for S. Curran 59th min; D. Maher for J. Barry 60th min; C. Darcy for B. McCarthy 65th min;
Referee - A. Kelly (Galway).
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