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Tipperary hit rock-bottom as Cats give Sheedy plenty to ponder

Kilkenny 0-18 Tipperary 0-17

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Eye on the ball: Martin Keoghan of Kilkenny gets his strike away despite the challenge of Padraic Maher. Photo by Ray McManus/Sportsfile

Eye on the ball: Martin Keoghan of Kilkenny gets his strike away despite the challenge of Padraic Maher. Photo by Ray McManus/Sportsfile

Eye on the ball: Martin Keoghan of Kilkenny gets his strike away despite the challenge of Padraic Maher. Photo by Ray McManus/Sportsfile

Tipperary's pre-season plans did not include missing out on the League quarter-finals, but you get the impression Liam Sheedy will sleep soundly if they are eliminated next Sunday.

"If there was to be a year to be out of it, it might not be the end of the world. Whether we end up in the knockout stages or not, the League has been hugely beneficial from a management point of view," he said after watching his side slip to a third straight loss.

Of course Tipperary could still make the quarter-finals if they beat Cork in the last round, but after having their pre-championship confidence reserves depleted by losing League finals in the last two seasons, there's a feeling among supporters that it might be no bad thing if they slipped quietly away and focused on summer.

That's a sentiment which is utterly alien to Kilkenny, who showed yet again their fundamentals are sound in front of 8,273 fans yesterday.

Well-beaten by Limerick on the scoreboard, if not in the actual exchanges, the better parts of yesterday's performance in Semple Stadium were much slicker and more in keeping with Kilkenny's traditional values.

That included a powerful finish, as they outscored Tipperary by 0-5 to 0-2 in the final 14 minutes after being hit with an unanswered six-point blitz between the 46th and 60th minutes.

There was a real fluency about Tipp in that period, but it didn't last. Still, they held a point advantage in the 72nd minute, but were reeled in over the next 90 seconds as sub Richie Hogan and goalkeeper Eoin Murphy (long-range free) fired over two points.

Murphy had hit the target from afar earlier on too, underlining the value of a reliable free-taker from all ranges. Seamus Callanan, normally the essence of reliability, had an off-day, wasting three scorable frees, as Alan Murphy missed two for Kilkenny.

"Everybody has days like that as a player or a free-taker. Seamus will work through it and get back to the high standards he sets for himself. No better man to do it," said Sheedy.

Tipperary were also left regretting a missed goal chance just before half-time when Michael Breen fired wide after finding himself in lots of space.

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Liam Blanchfield of Kilkenny in action against James Barry and Padraic Maher, right, of Tipperary. Photo by Ray McManus/Sportsfile

Liam Blanchfield of Kilkenny in action against James Barry and Padraic Maher, right, of Tipperary. Photo by Ray McManus/Sportsfile

Liam Blanchfield of Kilkenny in action against James Barry and Padraic Maher, right, of Tipperary. Photo by Ray McManus/Sportsfile

It was one of the few occasions Eoin Murphy was left exposed, on a day when the Kilkenny full-back line did very well. Padraig and Walter Walsh and Billy Ryan impressed too, while Liam Blanchfield started well but found it hard to maintain the high levels once the Tipp defence stabilised.

Kilkenny led by a point (0-9 to 0-8) at half-time and by 0-13 to 0-9 after 44 minutes, but once Tipperary released Ronan Maher from corner-back to wing-back, the balance shifted.

'Bubbles' O'Dwyer scored three excellent points and as the power shift swung Tipp's way, it looked as if they would consign Kilkenny to the bottom of the table going into the final round.

Instead, they are feeling the weight of five rivals bearing down on them. Kilkenny could miss out on the knockout stages if they lose to Wexford, although the odds are in their favour.

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Padraig Walsh of Kilkenny in action against Willie Connors of Tipperary. Photo by Ray McManus/Sportsfile

Padraig Walsh of Kilkenny in action against Willie Connors of Tipperary. Photo by Ray McManus/Sportsfile

Padraig Walsh of Kilkenny in action against Willie Connors of Tipperary. Photo by Ray McManus/Sportsfile

"I said last Sunday that I wasn't going home feeling bad about things because we did a lot right. We conceded two goals just before half-time and a few points early in the second half, but we responded well," said Brian Cody.

"It was something we learned from because the goals we conceded were preventable. I had confidence in the sense that were playing decent and would be competitive today."

The good start - Kilkenny led 0-5 to 0-1 after 11 minutes - and the powerful finish will have pleased Cody, but there were sloppy times too, not least a 21-minute period in the second-half when they failed to score.

"We were creating chances, but we just weren't taking them. When that happens, you just can't let it get to you. We turned it around and finished strongly," said Cody.

While Sheedy presented an upbeat front, he would have been deeply frustrated not to have taken at least a point.

"We were a small bit unlucky not to come out with something from that game. I thought we'd hang on. But look, Eoin does what he does best. You make a mistake out in the middle of the park and he'll throw the ball over the bar all day long," said Sheedy.

Scorers - Kilkenny: A Murphy 0-7 (7f), P Walsh, W Walsh, E Murphy (2f) 0-2 each, B Ryan, G Malone, M Keoghan, R Leahy, R Hogan 0-1 each. Tipperary: S Callanan 0-5 (4f), John O'Dwyer 0-4, J Forde (2f), N McGrath, N O'Meara 0-2 each, R Byrne, S Kennedy 0-1 each.

Kilkenny - E Murphy 8; P Murphy 8, C Delaney 8, T Walsh 7; C Fogarty 6, P Deegan 7, J Cleere 7; P Walsh 7, A Murphy 6; J Donnelly 5, W Walsh 7, G Malone 6; B Ryan 7, L Blanchfield 7, M Keoghan 6. Subs: R Leahy 7 for Donnelly (43), R Hogan 7 for Malone (52), J Maher 6 for A Murphy (52), N Brassil for Blanchfield (69).

Tipperary - P Maher 7; A Flynn 6, J Barry 6, R Maher 7; S Kennedy 6, Padraic Maher 7, R Byrne 7; M Breen 7, W Connors 5 ; Patrick Maher 6, N McGrath 7, John O'Dwyer 8; J Forde 6, S Callanan 5, N O'Meara 7. Subs: J Morris 6 for Connors (42), Joe O'Dwyer 7 for Kennedy (48), J McGrath 6 for Patrick Maher (55), G Browne for Breen (67).

Ref - J Murphy (Limerick)

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