Monday 19 February 2018

Pair of aces leave Tipp holding losing hand

Richie Hogan and Eddie Brennan engineer one of the all-time great hurling final goals

ALL year long Richie Hogan occupied himself on the left side of the Kilkenny attack with a mandate to score goals. After a healthy tally of 2-53 during the National League and Walsh Cup competitions, he went on to raise four green flags in the championship, not too shabby by anyone's standards.

That fourth goal, however, was critical in more ways than one. After four seasons of toil, it finally saw Hogan invoked as a Galactico in the Kilkenny team and resulted in him being credited with producing one of the all-time great hurling final goals.

He'll be the first to admit the way was paved for him by fast Eddie Brennan, a man written off by many, but still entrusted by those who count. In the 48th minute of a tense All-Ireland final with Tipperary, Brennan began a piercing run from his own half-back line and split the Tipp attack with every emphatic stride, piercing the very spine of their defence with ferocious energy and application.

Leaving three blue and gold shirts in his wake, he cruised towards the posts until Paul Curran advanced to thwart him. Instantly spotting Hogan to his left, Brennan deftly offloaded an exquisite handpass, which may look easy but is quite difficult to engineer at full pace.

The ball bounced invitingly on Hogan's stick; he knew Paddy Stapleton was on his case so with a silken touch, he applied the gloss by drilling the sliotar to the left of Brendan Cummins and high into the corner of the net.

That score sent a wave of electricity pulsating through the Kilkenny team and Hogan, in the most testing of conditions, without even laying a hand on the ball, announced his arrival as a big-time player. As he wheeled away to celebrate this monumental score, the Kilkenny supporters acclaimed this player whose melodic gift had made them sing.

Brennan, meanwhile, returned to his right half-forward slot and prepared himself for the next ball.

Those same people who had dismissed him earlier in the season rose to applaud his incredible playmaking efforts.

But there was little emotion on his face as he perhaps contemplated one final epic act in a champion career.

Damian Lawlor

Sunday Indo Sport

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