Late Kelly goal burst sees defiant Cats home against Tipperary
Kilkenny 2-17 Tipperary 0-18
Kilkenny staged a late smash-and-grab which Tipperary failed to deal with as the All-Ireland champions finally kickstarted their season with a precious win in the Allianz hurling League.
A crowd of almost 11,000 turned out in Nowlan Park and were rewarded with an excellent contest, especially in the second half.
Tipperary led by a point in the 67th minute but were hit for 2-2 on the run-in, with Kilkenny full-forward, Kevin Kelly scoring both goals.
He pounced for the first after a slick move left him in space close to the Tipperary goal and struck again in stoppage time.
It was a cruel twist of fate for Tipperary, who had led for most of the way.
However, Kilkenny hung on doggedly and, as they have shown so often in the past, their capacity to complete the deal late on is unrivalled.
TJ Reid hit 0-10 for Kilkenny while newcomer, James Maher was named as man-of-the match after an excellent performance. He scored 0-4 and was busy in other aspects too.
Playing with the wind in the first half, Tipperary led by 0-9 to 0-8 at the interval, having opened up a four point advantage after 27 minutes, Kilkenny raised their game considerably in the closing minutes, adding points from Maher (2) and Reid (free).
Earlier, it had taken a fine save by Darren Gleeson to prevent a Kilkenny goal after John Power, a pre-match replacement for Richie Hogan, was played in.
Unusually for Reid, he had difficulty with his free-taking in the first half, missing the target on three occasions.However, he also posted four points (three frees, one ‘65’). Tipperary missed two frees from John McGrath and John O’Dwyer, a pre-match sub for Jason Forde.
Tipperary settled into their rhythm quicker than the All-Ireland champions but didn’t return as many scores as they would have expected with the wind.
That was down to doggedly defiant defending by Kilkenny while Maher and Reid were offering them a range of options at the other end.
It was close and tense right throughout the second half before Kelly’s late double strike settled the contest in Kilkenny’s favour.
Scorers: Kilkenny: TJ Reid 0-10 (6f, 1’65’), K Kelly 2-1, J Maher 0-4, P Walsh, W Walsh 0-1 each.
Tipperary: J O’Dwyer 0-9 (4f, 2’65s’), J McGrath 0-4 91f), C Kenny, N McGrath 0-2 each, D Quinn 0-1.
Kilkenny: E Murphy; P Murphy, J Holden, S Prendergast; P Walsh, R Lennon, D Cody; L Ryan, C Fogarty;C Fennelly,TJ Reid, J Maher; W Walsh, K Kelly,J Power.
Subs: K Joyce for Holden (63), JJ Farrell for Power (63).
Tipperary: D Gleeson; C Barrett, T Hamill, M Cahill; B Maher, J Barry Padraig Maher; M Breen, D Quinn; D McCormack, Patrick Maher, J O’Dwyer; N McGrath, C Kenny, J McGrath.
Subs: N O’Meara for Kenny (50), R Maher for Quinn (52), J Meagher for Padraig Maher (68), A Coffey for McCormack.
Referee: C McAllister (Cork)