Sport

Tuesday 29 July 2014

Fennelly fires the Cats to league success

Published 05/05/2013|17:19

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5 May 2013; Michael Fennelly, Kilkenny, celebrates after scoring his side's second goal. Allianz Hurling League Division 1 Final, Kilkenny v Tipperary, Nowlan Park, Kilkenny. Picture credit: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE
Michael Fennelly celebrates after scoring his second goal

Two incredible first half goals from Michael Fennelly were the difference as Kilkenny sealed another National League crown beating Tipperary 2-17 to 0-20 at Nowlan Park.

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The game was often ill-tempered with Lar Corbett and JJ Delaney receiving straight red cards but it was a fine advertisement for hurling.

"We did it for Brian(Cody). This one is for him and he wouldn't like to hear us saying that," Kilkeeny selector Martin Fogarty, referring to the Kilkenny manager who is currently recovering from cardiac surgery.

"I'm sure he'll be back for the Offaly game," added fellow selector Michael Dempsey.

Tipperary opted to play with the breeze in the first half but it was the Cats who came flying out of the blocks.

Lester Ryan, arguably Kilkenny's best player in the National League, opened the scoring and they increased that lead when Michael Fennelly powerfully burst through the Tipp rearguard and finished to the net despite being off balance.

An Eoin Kelly free and a fine intercept and score from Brendan Maher got Eamon O'Shea's men off the mark.

Michael Fennelly and Maher traded points as the frenetic pace of the game continued with Kilkenny coping better.

Noel mcGrath sent over a huge point from distance to try and inspire Tipp but Kilkenny got the next score and it was another superb goal from Michael Fennelly.

The midfielder who by now had 2-1 to his name collected the ball at an acute angle and finished high into the roof of the net.

Brendan Maher's third point reduced the gap to three points but Kilkenny were still in the ascendancy.

A fine point on the run from Eoin Kelly reduced the gap further.

Kelly and the superb Fennelly exchanged scores before Kelly got another and Noel McGrath's superb block and point levelled matters.

Colin Fennelly and Tipp keeper Darren Gleeson traded points as the half drew to a close but the home side finished the half as they had started it with Lester Ryan and that man Fennelly adding points to make it 2-7 to 0-11 at the break.

Both sides added two points early in the second half but the tension ans the tetchy nature of the game was on the increase.

Eoin Larkin and Noel McGrath were the next to trade points before one of the major talking points of the game.

Lar Corbeett and JJ Delaney became embroiled in an off-the-ball flashpoint and after consulting with the umpires, the referee sent both players off.

Seamus Callanan and Brendan Maher, with his fourth point of the game, restored parity.

Both defences were well on top in the second half but Kilkenny managed three points in a row before John O'Brien made it a two-point game.

Paul Curran received a yellow card for a very heavy tackle on Michael Rice and Eoin Larkin made no mistake with the resultant free.

Padraig Maher, who was having an inspired game for Tipp, pointed from distance to keep the Premier County in touch but Larkin cancelled it out after another cheap tackle in the Tipp defence.

Pa Bourke slotted another free for Tipp bit Michael Rice's 80-yard point restored the Cats three point advantage with three minutes remaining.

Bourke was successful from another free before Richie Hogan forced a fine save from Darren Gleeson.

Tipp entered injury time needing to find two points but instead it was Michael Rice who pointed for the All-Ireland champions and they held on for a three point win.

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