Sunday 15 September 2019

Tipperary are All-Ireland champions as Liam Sheedy's men see off 14-man Kilkenny in Croke Park

Tipperary 3-25 Kilkenny 0-20

Ronan Maher, left, and Padraic Maher of Tipperary lift the Liam MacCarthy cup
Ronan Maher, left, and Padraic Maher of Tipperary lift the Liam MacCarthy cup
Padraic Maher, left, and Noel McGrath of Tipperary with the Liam MacCarthy cup
Tipperary captain Séamus Callanan lifts the Liam MacCarthy cup
Séamus Kennedy of Tipperary celebrates a second half point during the GAA Hurling All-Ireland Senior Championship Final match between Kilkenny and Tipperary at Croke Park in Dublin. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

Sean McGoldrick

Tipperary are the 2019 All-Ireland Hurling champions. Every All-Ireland success is special, but title number 28 for Tipp will resonate for a long, long time in the Premier County.

The controversial dismissal of Kilkenny's Richie Hogan in the 33rd minute proved the turning point in a disappointing final. Referee James Owens deemed that his high elbow on Cathal Barrett merited a red card and the Cats never came to terms with his loss.

With the numerical advantage, Tipperary swept the Cats aside in the second half in which they hit second-quarter goals through Seamus Callanan and John O'Dwyer to wrap up a surprisingly comfortably win. Kilkenny needed to keep the game tight but once space opened up there was only going to be one outcome.

Tipperary completely dominated Kilkenny's puck-out after the break, with the Leinster side only winning 13 of Eoin Murphy's restarts during the full contest. There was almost a sense of anti-climax at the end as Tipp piled on the misery on 14-man Kilkenny - outscoring them 6-1 in the closing ten minutes to win by 14 points.

"This is every players' dream to go up the steps of the Hogan Stand and receive the Liam MacCarthy Cup. This is very special for me," said winning team captain Seamus Callanan.

This was a particularly sweet victory for a variety of reasons. Liam Sheedy's gamble in coming back for a second stint as manager was handsomely rewarded with the Portroe native becoming the first coach to fashion two All-Ireland final wins over a Brian Cody-managed Kilkenny.

Tipp's season looked in danger of imploding after they were hammered by Limerick in the Munster final but they recovered to win their second All-Ireland title via the back door.

They have now extended their advantage over Kilkenny to 12-8 in their All-Ireland finals duels.

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It was a disappointing end to a strange season for Kilkenny who had lost twice during the campaign but still reached the decider. But having overcome Cork and Limerick in their last three matches, Kilkenny failed to make it a hat-trick of wins over Munster opposition.

It was the fifth time that Brian Cody had experienced defeat in an All-Ireland decider during his phenomenally successful career as team boss. But it was the first time he suffered two defeats which hadn't been cushioned by a win in between.

It was Kilkenny's worst defeat in a final under his reign and their biggest since also going down by 14 points in the 1964 decider to Tipperary (5-13; 2-8)

Even though he was stricken with a bug earlier in the week, 20-year-old Adrian Mullen lined out as selected at corner-forward for Kilkenny. However, he failed to make an impact and was the first Kilkenny player to be substituted in the 40th miinute.

There were a minimum of positional changes and match-ups were as anticipated - though Ronan Maher moved to full back to mark Colin Fennelly.

The game was scarcely five minutes old when the heavens opened and torrential rain poured down. But Kilkenny looked more comfortable in the early exchanges and had established an 0-4 to 0-1 lead after seven minutes.

The Cats were disrupting Tipperary's puck out strategy and any time Brian Hogan went short, the first receiver was under pressure and they twice coughed up possession and one of those turn-overs led to a Kilkenny point.

Deprived of primary possession, the Tipperary forwards failed to make any impact in open play in the first quarter, with their only score from play coming from midfielder Michael Breen.

Meanwhile, at the other end, Kilkenny captain TJ Reid was unerringly accurate with his free taking as the Leinster side deservingly led 0-8 to 0-3.

But finally Tipperary began to get traction. A shot from their most influential forward Niall O'Meara, who started at centre forward, won a 65 which Jason Forde converted to narrow the gap to four points.

For the first time in the game the Tipperary half backs began to win Eoin Murphy's huge puck-outs. The experienced Brendan Maher went on a storming run which drew a foul and Forde tapped it over.

Then came one of the half's pivotal moments when Padraic Maher caught a Murphy puck-out over the head of Walter Walsh. He combined with Forde who found O'Meara racing through the centre and the Kilruane MacDonagh's player made the most of his opportunity to beat Murphy and hit the back of the net.

So despite being outplayed for the previous 26 minutes, Tipperary found themselves a point in front (1-6; 0-8). Kilkenny recovered well with a TJ Reid free and John Donnelly who was giving Seamus Kennedy a torrid time on the wing, hit his second point. Ironically, Kennedy replied immediately for Tipperary to level the game again as the heavens opened for a second time.

John McGrath restored Tipperary’s lead in the 32nd minute when he became the first of their forwards to score from play but the final was plunged into controversy soon afterwards. Richie Hogan, who had briefly been off the field earlier to receive treatment for a blood injury, caught Cathal Barrett on the Hogan Stand sideline.

Referee James Owens consulted with linesman Johnny Murphy before flashing a red card at the Kilkenny veteran, leaving them to play out the remainder of the final with 14 men.

TJ Reid and Noel McGrath – who failed to make an impact in open play in the first half – exchanged frees to leave Tipp a point ahead at the break (1-9; 0).

TJ Reid opened the scoring in the second half with his ninth free but Tipp struck for their second goal and - who else but Seamus Callanan - did the honours after Forde and John McGrath did the spade work.

It was Callanan's eighth goal of the season – he had scored one in Tipp’s previous seven and the goal brought him level with Eddie Keher as the third-most prolific goal scorer of all time in championship hurling with 35 goals.

Kilkenny looked all at sea in the third quarter. With Cathal Barrett operating as the sweeper Tipp dominated the Kilkenny puck out and they exploited the wide open spaces of Croke Park.

Goal number three arrived in the 42nd minute. This time it was Callanan who was the provider finding Bubbles O 'Dwyer completely unmarked in front of the Kilkenny goal and he made no mistake from close range.

Tipp were now 3-12 to 0-13 ahead and Kilkenny needed a miracle. In truth it never looked remotely like happening with Tipperary making their numerical advantage count. For most of the rest of the contest the margin was nine points.

Kilkenny midfielder Conor Browne had a goal chance in the 45th minute but he shot weakly and with the Tipperary defence completely on top, the Cats' cause looked increasingly hopeless.

Tipperary could afford to run their bench and their overall strength of their squad was reflected in the fact that their substitutes scored 0-5 points in what was effectively a second-half rout.

Kilkenny battled bravely and Brian Cody introduced four substitutes with Billy Ryan scoring 0-2 but denied the oxygen of goals, they were a beaten side long before the final whistle sounded.

Scorers: Kilkenny: TJ Reid 0-11 (10f), J Donnelly 0-3, B Ryan 0-2, R Hogan, W Walsh, P Walsh, C Fennelly 0-1 each.

Tipperary: J Forde 0-8, (4f, 2 65), J O'Dwyer 1-2; S Callanan 1-2, N O'Meara 1-0, J McGrath 0-3, S Kennedy, N McGrath (1f), W Connors 0-2 each. M Breen, G Browne, M Kehoe, J Morris each.

Kilkenny: E Murphy; P Murphy, H Lawlor, J Holden; C Fogarty, P Walsh, P Deegan; C Browne, C Buckley; J Donnelly, TJ Reid, W Walsh; A Mullen, C Fennelly, R Hogan. Subs: B Ryan for Mullen (40); R Leahy for Buckley (48); J Maher for Browne (54), C Delaney For Holden (58)

Tipperary: B Hogan; C Barrett, R Maher, B Heffernan; S Kennedy, B Maher, P Maher; N McGrath, M Breen; D McCormack, N O'Meara; J Forde; J O'Dwyer, S Callanan, J McGrath. Subs: M Kehoe for for O'Meara (51), W Connor for McCormack (56), J Morris for Forde (60), S O'Brien for Barrett (61), G Browne for Breen (63)

Referee: James Owens (Westmeath)

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