Offaly minor Eoin Ryan was the hero of the hour as Tipperary retained their title when they beat Kilkenny by the narrowest of margins at wind and rain-lashed Ballyragget last night.
Ryan, who showed a brilliant touch in the testing conditions, landed the winning score with only seconds remaining to defeat Kilkenny for the second year running. He scored 1-7 in all.
Early on, Liam Hickey and Ryan swapped points, and for a while Kilkenny were on top thanks to a third-minute goal from Lee Kinsella.
However, Tipp effected an eight-point turnaround over the next 20 minutes to move 2-7 to 1-6 ahead. Jamie Bergin and Ryan scored the goals. By half-time, though, their lead was cut to 2-8 to 1-9.
The Cats opened the new half with points from Hickey and Conor Walsh to draw level.
And it was nip-and-tuck all the way after that, with the scores level five times before Ryan produced a magnificent winner.
Scorers -- Tipperary: E Ryan 1-7 (5f), J Bergin 1-1, T Heffernan, N O'Meara 0-2 each, J Cleary, T Cleary 0-1 each. Kilkenny: C Martin 0-6 (4f), L Kinsella 1-1, C Walsh, J Ryan 0-3 each, L Hickey 0-2, D Lennon 0-1 .
Tipperary -- J Samson; A Conran, C Bergin, C O'Riordan; J Ryan, E Hogan, M Collier; S Dooley, J Cleary; T Heffernan, T Cleary, N O'Meara; J Bergin, E Ryan, J Ryan. Sub: T Nolan for S Dooley (33).
Kilkenny -- D Walsh; D Ahearne, L O Cinneide, D Power; B Whelan, B O Murchu, N Madden; W Brennan, D Lennon; C Walsh, J Tobin, C Martin; L Hickey, L Kinsella, J Ryan. Sub: G Malone for D Lennon (46).
Ref -- A Stapleton (Laois)