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Ryan hopes Tipp triumph can serve as platform


MICK RYAN'S side lifted the pall of gloom that has hung over Tipperary hurling by claiming victory against Kilkenny at Semple Stadium on Saturday.

A little over 3,000 spectators were present as Tipp claimed this title for the first time since 2000, with Kilkenny suffering final heartbreak for a second successive year.

Afterwards, Ryan urged his players to use this win as a platform for the county's senior set-up.

The Fethard native, who played on the 2000 intermediate team, said: "Hopefully, there are players out there that can make the next step up. That is what this is used for."

A 2011 rule change, which allows Tipperary to field senior club players, was a huge advantage to the Premier County as the Cats could only call upon junior and intermediate club players.

Tipp used this competition for developmental purposes and the team featured seven players who won All-Ireland minor medals in 2007.

Five of them -- James Logue, Kevin O'Gorman, James Barry, Sean Carey and Mikey Heffernan -- started against Galway in the 2010 U-21 All-Ireland final, while Christy Coughlan, Joe Gallagher and Kieran Morris were introduced as subs against the Tribesmen two years ago.

Heffernan (22), claimed his own unique piece of history by adding an All-Ireland intermediate medal to the minor, U-21 and senior titles that he has already collected.

But Ryan's men had to dig deep to see off a dogged Kilkenny, who trailed by 12 points at half-time. With nine minutes left, the Cats had fought back to within a single point and had huge momentum behind them.

Tipp eventually came through with two points to spare thanks to goalkeeper James Logue, who made stunning saves to deny Rory Hickey from a 54th minute penalty and a 20m free in stoppage time.

Logue -- tipped by many to emerge as a future senior team goalkeeper -- blotted his copybook just once, when Geoff Brennan's speculative long ball in the 42nd minute ended up in the Tipperary net.

That score was part of a blistering Kilkenny run after half-time as the Cats hit 1-7 without reply, having trailed by 0-6 to 3-9 at the break.

Kilkenny were 0-4 to 0-2 ahead in the early stages, but wind-assisted Tipp went on a run of 2-6 without reply.

By half-time, Tipperary's inside line of Morris, Heffernan and David Butler had scored 3-6 between them, with the lethal trio hitting 1-2 each.

Tipp's interval lead looked like a match-winning one, but Kilkenny boss Pat O'Grady somehow inspired his players to produce a massive second-half performance that saw them outscore the hosts by 1-11 to 0-4.

Kilkenny were out early for the second half and O'Grady revealed: "There's not a whole lot that you can say to them, only have a look at themselves and the jersey that they're wearing and ask themselves is that how they want to be remembered in an All-Ireland final.

"We left them to talk among themselves for a couple of minutes, and then gave them a bit of a talk. We let them out then and, to a man, they were raring to go.

"They didn't want to be remembered for that first half, they wanted to atone for that -- and they did."

Scorers -- Tipperary: M Heffernan 1-4, K Morris 1-3 (0-1f), D Butler 1-2, M Gleeson, P White, S Carey & P O'Dwyer 0-1 each. Kilkenny: R Hickey 0-8 (4f, 2 65s), G Brennan 1-0, K Kelly 0-3, N Walsh 0-2, B Kennedy, L Harney, J Lyng & JJ Farrell 0-1 each.

TIPPERARY -- J Logue; C Coughlan, K O'Gorman, G Walsh; J Barry, E Connolly, R Sherlock; M Gleeson, P White; S Carey, D O'Brien, J Gallagher; K Morris, M Heffernan, D Butler. Subs: R Ruth for Butler (38), E Sweeney for Gallagher (47), C Dillon for O'Brien (56), P O'Dwyer for White (56).

KILKENNY -- R O'Neill; M Phelan, A Walsh, J Corcoran; B Kennedy, B Beckett, L Harney; J Lyng, P Murphy; N Walsh, R Hickey, K Kelly; R Walsh, JJ Farrell, G Aylward. Subs: P Hartley for Murphy (19), M Malone for R Walsh (28), G Brennan for A Walsh (30+1), C Kenny for Farrell (60).

Ref -- J Owens (Wexford).

Irish Independent