Cyrill Farrell: Tipp tactics played into Cats' hands
EVEN in the historic weekend it was, with Dublin being crowned kings of Leinster at long last, Saturday night in Nowlan Park overshadowed everything else.
There was no cup at stake but there was a fantastic atmosphere in the build-up and the hurling didn't disappoint.
Some of the hits and body collisions would make you cringe, but there wasn't a dirty stroke in the entire game in the latest instalment of this epic rivalry.
There were great displays on both sides, particularly in defence. Conor O'Mahony and Michael Cahill were immense for the visitors but, not for the first time, Tipp's challenge perished on the rock that was Kilkenny's half-back line.
Tipp didn't help themselves by lobbing so much ball on their heads when their prowess in the air is so well known. Brian Hogan, Tommy Walsh and Kieran Joyce cleaned up. It was like nuts to a monkey.
Tipp didn't seem to have a plan B. Lar Corbett going off was a blow but Seamus Callanan scored two points from play when he came in.
After two Munster titles under Declan Ryan, their season ended without a trophy and, when you consider the talent they have, their campaign was expected to last a little bit longer.
But Kilkenny shut them down effectively and they have another loss to the Cats to stew on over the winter. It's a long wait until next year's league.
As the game went on, Kilkenny seemed to get better. I understand that Michael Fennelly is getting closer to fitness and he'll provide more options and leadership.
Henry Shefflin's presence in itself was a boost to the Cats when he came off the bench.
Paul Murphy was solid again at corner-back and now their six backs are settled and fit – that's a serious base to work off.
Waterford will have to be at their very best next weekend and, despite people predicting their demise, Kilkenny are still the team to beat.