Allianz HL Final: Kilkenny claim silverware
Allianz Hurling League Final
KILKENNY 2-23 TIPPERARY 2-17
By Cian O'Connell at Nowlan Park
The Allianz League decider is as much about making a statement as attaining silverware so Kilkenny can reflect satisfactorily on a stirring win.
Brian Cody’s charges summoned a dynamic second half display to secure victory as Tipperary endured another harrowing afternoon at Nowlan Park.
In a decade sprinkled with demoralising defeats at the venue Kilkenny’s cocktail of young and old delivered, especially during the third quarter.
Amazingly the statistic which proved Kilkenny’s supremacy was the fact that Tipperary only struck two shots from play in the first 20 minutes of the second period. One of those forced a majestic save from Kilkenny custodian Eoin Murphy to deny Tipperary substitute John O'Dwyer.
The chief damage was done in this spell as Walter Walsh’s 36th minute goal injected Kilkenny with confidence and momentum. Tipperary never truly recovered.
It was an opening period which captured what had been evident throughout the spring: TJ Reid and Jason Forde are the form forwards in the country.
At one end Reid flashed over eight points, including three points from play and a sublime effort from a sideline cut as a decoration.
Down in front of Ardan O’Cearbhail Silvermines clubman Forde was continuing his splendid run rifling 1-6.
Forde’s goal in the 24th minute was the key score in the first half edging Tipperary 1-5 to 0-6 ahead following a Reid inspired Kilkenny burst.
There was so much to admire in the manner Tipperary worked the ball down the field for the major with Alan Flynn’s catch and John McGrath’s wrists manufacturing the chance which Forde expertly converted.
Until the interval it remained earnest with Tipperary eventually departing armed with a 1-10 to 0-11 advantage as Kilkenny’s Paddy Deegan contributed handsomely.
Tipperary converted 1-10 from 18 attempts, Kilkenny 0-11 from 16 so the conversion rate was high and the issue was delicately poised at the turnaround.
The complexion of the match altered dramatically following Walsh’s brilliant intervention immediately after the restart.
Suddenly the locals were confident and Tipperary were under severe duress with Kilkenny’s half back line, anchored by captain Cillian Buckley, dictated the agenda.
Reid continued to drill over the frees as Kilkenny nudged 1-21 to 1-14 in front by the 54th minute before Tipperary launched a comeback mission.
Kilkenny, though, remained confident with substitute Conor Fogarty adding an insurance goal in the 64th minute.
Forde, who finished with a 2-12 haul, replied with a goal from a free, but Kilkenny were dominant closing the deal with the minimum of fuss.
Scorers for Kilkenny: TJ Reid 0-15 (11fs, 1 sideline), Walter Walsh 1-2, Conor Fogarty 1-0, John Donnelly 0-2, Martin Keoghan, Richie Leahy, Liam Blanchfield, and Eoin Murphy (f) 0-1 each.
*Scorers for Tipperary: *Jason Forde 2-12 (1-9fs, 165, 1 sideline), John McGrath 0-2, Sean Curran, Seamus Kennedy, and Willie Connors 0-1 each.
KILKENNY: Eoin Murphy; Joey Holden, Padraig Walsh, Paddy Deegan; Conor Delaney, Cillian Buckley, Enda Morrissey; Richie Leahy, James Maher; Martin Keoghan, TJ Reid, John Donnelly; Bill Sheehan, Walter Walsh, Alan Murphy.
Subs: Liam Blanchfield for Murphy (41), Luke Scanlon for Sheehan (44), Conor Fogarty for Leahy (48), Conor Martin for Donnelly (63).
TIPPERARY: Daragh Mooney; Alan Flynn, James Barry, Michael Cahill; Barry Heffernan, Padraic Maher, Ronan Maher; Brendan Maher, Seamus Kennedy; Sean Curran, Billy McCarthy, John McGrath; Michael Breen, Jason Forde, Willie Connors.
Subs: John O’Dwyer for Breen (HT), Cathal Barrett for Kennedy (45), Mark Russell for Curran (59), Donagh Maher for Barry (61), Cian Darcy for McCarthy (65).
REFEREE: Alan Kelly (Galway).