Thursday 14 December 2017

'Killer goals' from Power brothers blow Tipp away

Kilkenny 2-17 Tipperary2-14

Tipperary's Patrick 'Bonner' Maher is crowded out by Kilkenny's Eoin Murphy, Padraig Walsh, Kieran Joyce and JJ Delaney. Picture credit: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE
Tipperary's Patrick 'Bonner' Maher is crowded out by Kilkenny's Eoin Murphy, Padraig Walsh, Kieran Joyce and JJ Delaney. Picture credit: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE
TJ Reid, Kilkenny, scores a goal in the first half which was subsequently disallowed. Picture credit: Pat Murphy / SPORTSFILE
Brendan Maher, Tipperary, in action against Henry Shefflin, Kilkenny
Seamus Callanan, Tipperary, scores his side's second goal of the game
Brendan Maher, Tipperary, in action against Henry Shefflin and TJ Reid, Kilkenny
Kilkenny's Colin Fennelly in action against Paddy Stapleton. Picture credit: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE
JJ Delaney and Jackie Tyrrell, Kilkenny, try to close down Tipperary's Seamus Callanan. Picture credit: Piaras Ó Mídheach / SPORTSFILE
Richie Power, Kilkenny, shoots to score his side's first goal of the game

Damian Lawlor

TEN for Cody and ten for Henry but the Power brothers scored the killer goals that made it happen for Kilkenny last night. Two in a four-minute spell did for Tipp, who battled to the end as Séamus Callanan finished with 2-5, including a late goal that ensured a frantic finish.

Richie struck first in the 59th minute before younger sibling John, drafted in from the start in place of Walter Walsh, tapped home from close range after Tipp goalkeeper Darren Gleeson spooned a deflected Michael Fennelly shot skywards.

And that was that, with Tipp appearing flatter than the first outing and unable to take full advantage of another penalty, with Callanan opting for the safer option of a point in the second half.

During the week the question was asked: could this replay possibly reach the same levels as the drawn game? Very few believed it was possible.

After all, there were 54 scores and some breathtaking accuracy to enthuse over first time out. The feeling was the quality simply could not be the same again.

And yet, as a crowd of 81,753 made its way down Jones' Road, and the floodlights began to radiate, anticipation of another cracker filled the air. The excitement was palpable, probably because there were plenty of variables to ponder; as with the drawn game Brian Cody had made three changes to his team, with Padraic Walsh and Kieran Joyce replacing Joey Holden and Brian Hogan in defence.

With six switches in two games, did Cody know his best 15 any more? Possibly not. The way they train in Nowlan Park, with the amount of quality on the bench, did that actually matter? We were about to find out.

Tipp manager Eamon O'Shea, on the other hand, kept things simple and named an unchanged starting 15.

There had been plenty of speculation that All Star defender Michael Cahill would start, due to his ability to cover any position from number two to nine, but considering how hard Gearoid Ryan, the man who was likely to make way, works, that was never really a runner. O'Shea opted to keep Cahill on the bench, knowing that with the in-form Jason Forde and John O'Brien also there, his reserves were greatly enhanced.

And so we got down to business. Right from the start you got the feeling that neither side feared the other. Respect, yes. Fear? No way.

The early stages were frantic, with players gasping for breath from an early stage. Tipp started well and had two points clocked up within eight minutes and a goal chance spurned.

It was a quiet opening to the game from a Kilkenny point of view but Richie Hogan settled them with a point after they had been dominated in the air by the Tipp defence.

The Cats went man for man in defence and that allowed Tipp some early room to manoeuvre. As the game unfolded Kilkenny tightened those gaps and Hogan levelled the affair after 10 minutes. TJ Reid moved into full-forward, Eoin Larkin pointed and Kilkenny went two up as the Tipp defence made some individual errors.

The play was not as accurate or concise as last time around but Tipp's forwards picked the pace up, started winning primary possession again and the scores were level 0-4 apiece on the quarter-hour mark as John O'Dwyer and Callanan pointed.

Callanan broke through in the 18th minute and was just about to pull the trigger when JJ Delaney hooked him, to a huge ovation from the stands.

Tipp looked focused on goals but the Kilkenny defence blocked them countless times. Perhaps points would have been better options.

Every scrap of possession was hunted for but the Cats backs held the edge. Padraig Walsh, especially, was on fire with Kieran Bergin playing an exceptional role on the other side.

It took an inspirational point from Shane McGrath to reduce the margin to a point. It did the job; moments later Lar Corbett went on a sprint and handpassed to Callanan, who buried the 16th goal of his championship career, putting Tipp two points up, 1-5-to 0-6 after half an hour.

The sides would trade the remaining four scores of the half, with Tipp 1-7 to 0-8 ahead at the midway point.

Reid converted a free, Callanan responded in kind before respective midfielders Michael Fennelly and McGrath, with his third, found the target from play.

The half finished with Richie Power lofting a long-range free wide, and with Delaney suffering badly with a hand injury, and replaced in a temporary capacity on the stroke of half-time, the psychological advantage was with Tipp.

But Delaney was back out for the second half and Kilkenny opened with murderous intent. A run of five unanswered points had them three points clear after being two down at the break. Tipp were clearly rattled and had three bad wides as Kilkenny turned up the heat, forcing the Premier men to shoot hurriedly and place ball into territory where there was no blue and gold player.

It was a portent of things to come from a Tipp viewpoint as Kilkenny asked all the questions. And ultimately, they finished with the big prize. A 35th All-Ireland. Liam MacCarthy on Noreside again.

Scorers - Kilkenny: TJ Reid 0-5f, R Power 1-1 (0-1f), J Power 1-1, C Fennelly 0-3, R Hogan, M Fennelly, E Larkin 0-2, P Walsh 0-1. Tipperary: S Callanan 2-5 (0-4f, 0-1 pen), S McGrath 0-3, J O'Dwyer 0-3 (1 65), N McGrath 0-2, B Maher 0-1.

Kilkenny: E Murphy; K Joyce, JJ Delaney, P Walsh; P Murphy, JJ Delaney, C Buckley; M Fennelly, C Fogarty; C Fennelly, R Hogan, E Larkin; R Power, TJ Reid, J Power. Subs: H Shefflin for Hogan (58), L Ryan for M Fennelly (67).

Tipperary: D Gleeson; C Barrett, J Barry, P Stapleton; B Maher, Pádraic Maher, K Bergin; S McGrath, J Woodlock; G Ryan, J O'Dwyer, L Corbett; N McGrath, S Callanan, Patrick Maher. Subs: M Cahill for S McGrath (56), C O'Mahony for Ryan (64), S Bourke for Corbett (65), J Forde for N McGrath (67), J O'Brien for O'Dwyer (70).

Referee: B Gavin (Offaly).

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