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Hogan fires opening salvo

RICHIE Hogan scored 10 points as Kilkenny ran out comfortable winners against Tipperary in last night's Allianz National Hurling League Division 1 opener at Semple Stadium.

The eagerly-anticipated rematch of last September's classic All-Ireland final will be remembered as little more than a damp squib as the Cats romped to a straightforward success.

Kilkenny were without their O'Loughlin Gaels contingent, along with long-term injury victims Henry Shefflin and John Tennyson, but were rarely troubled after gaining control of the game late in the first half.

The Cats afforded the All-Ireland champions a traditional guard of honour before the game but all the noises coming from Noreside suggested that last year's beaten finalists were eager to lay down an early-season marker.

However, in the ninth minute, Tipp found the back of the net as wing-forward Gearoid Ryan drilled a brilliant shot into the corner after Pa Bourke had provided the pass.

After the sides had shared the opening four points, Tipp enjoyed their best spell of the first half, moving into a 1-6 to 0-4 lead by the 22nd minute.

But for the remainder of the half, Kilkenny were well on top and hit back to lead by 0-13 to 1-7 at half-time. Hogan notched eight of Kilkenny's first-half points as Tipperary conceded frees within scoring range, content to haul down marauding opposition attackers who knifed through the Premier County rearguard on more than one occasion.

Armed with a three-point lead at the midway point, Kilkenny opened the second half in devastating fashion as Colin Fennelly goaled 23 minutes after the restart. The Ballyhale Shamrocks forward scorched in from the right touchline and delivered a stunning finish.

Fennelly's goal handed Kilkenny a six-point advantage, 1-13 to 1-7, and as Tipp continued to struggle, the winners had little trouble keeping them at arm's length.

Scorers -- Kilkenny: R Hogan 0-10 (8f), C Fennelly 1-0, J Mulhall, A Fogarty 0-2 each, T Walsh, M Fennelly, E Brennan 0-1 each.Tipperary: P Bourke 0-4 (4f), G Ryan 1-0, N McGrath 0-2 (1 sl), S McGrath, J O'Neill, Patrick Maher, T Hammersley 0-1 each.

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Kilkenny: D Herity; J Dalton, JJ Delaney, P Murphy; T Walsh, J Tyrrell, PJ Delaney; M Rice, J Mulhall; R Hogan, M Fennelly, A Fogarty; C Fennelly, E Brennan, TJ Reid.

Tipperary: D Gleeson; P Stapleton, Pádraic Maher, C O'Brien; D Young, C O'Mahony, H Maloney; B Maher, S McGrath; G Ryan, P Bourke, N McGrath; J O'Neill, Patrick Maher, T Hammersley. Subs: S Hennessy for S McGrath (h-t), B O'Meara for Hammersley (h-t), M Cahill for O'Mahony (h-t), J Woodlock for O'Brien (49), B Dunne for B Maher (54). Referee: B Gavin (Offaly).

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