All-Ireland SHC final: Cats power to title #35

September 27, 2014

Kilkenny captain Lester Ryan lifts the Liam McCarthy Cup ©INPHO/James Crombie

Second-half goals from brothers Richie and John Power fired Kilkenny to a 2-17 to 2-14 victory over Tipperary in this replayed All-Ireland SHC final at Croke Park.

On a historic day at GAA HQ, the Power siblings hit the net within four minutes of each other and Henry Shefflin - arguably the greatest hurler of all time - became the first-ever man to win ten All-Ireland senior medals.

In a tough and hard-fought contest, where both defences were outstanding, Cats centre back Kieran Joyce - recalled to the starting team by manager Brian Cody for the replay - produced a brilliant Man of the Match display. Up top, all six Kilkenny forwards hit the target.

As the floodlights came on for the second half, the victors lit up the stadium with a blistering burst of dominance. Seamus Callanan netted for the losers in either half but the Premier County had no answer to Kilkenny's second-half power surge, which began with an unanswered run of five points inside ten minutes. Trailing by two at the interval, the Cats stepped on the gas to claim an unforgettable win.

At the end of a low-scoring but absorbing opening period, Tipp led by 1-7 to 0-8, with Callanan drilling the goal on 28 minutes and Shane McGrath chipping in with three exquisite points.

Tipp midfielder McGrath expertly clipped over the opening point of the match in the third minute and Noel McGrath doubled the gap after Patrick 'Bonner' Maher had almost crept in for a Premier County goal.

There were eight minutes on the clock by the time Richie Hogan lobbed over a fantastic opening point for the Cats and the same player took advantage of slack Tipperary defending to tie the scores up before Eoin Larkin sidestepped his man and fired the Leinster champions ahead for the first time.

A routine TJ Reid free from a central position represented Kilkenny's fourth score in as many minutes but John O'Dwyer hit back with a stunning point from beneath the Cusack Stand to leave the Black & Amber ahead by the odd point from seven after 15 minutes.

The sides were level for the second time when Callanan won and effortlessly converted a free and Michael Fennelly's superb point was the difference between the teams at the end of the opening quarter, 0-5 to 0-4.

Reid's free added to Kilkenny's tally on 20 minutes and neither side managed to score inside the next seven frenetic minutes before McGrath registered his second brilliant point of the match. That score lifted the Munster county and they took the lead when Callanan fired to the net from close range in the 28th minute after taking a handpass from Lar Corbett: 1-5 to 0-6.

The next four points were shared as Tipp took a two-point lead into the break: Reid and Callanan traded frees before Michael Fennelly and Shane McGrath in turn swapped scores at either end.

Five unanswered Cats points in ten minutes turned things around…

Kilkenny started the second half brightly and were level thanks to a brace of frees from Richie Power and Reid, while Gleeson had to perform heroics to deny Colin Fennelly a Cats goal. But the centre forward was on hand moments later to edge the Leinster champions back in front; his second consecutive point made it 0-12 to 1-7.

Reid's free continued the blitz but gallant Tipp were back within a point thanks to efforts from Noel McGrath and Callanan (free).

John Power and O'Dwyer exchanged points and the former saw his goal attempt bravely blocked down by James Barry, whose helmet was broken by the shot. Larkin's excellent finish had the Cats two to the good going into the last 15 minutes

Tipp were controversially awarded a penalty when Bonner Maher went to ground and Callanan was happy enough to take his point, the Premier County learning their lesson from having two penalties blocked in the drawn match.

History-maker Shefflin replaced Richie Hogan (a typically ruthless Cody move) and the Cats moved four points clear when Richie Power soared into the Dublin 3 air and made a superb catch before drilling the ball low to the back of the Tipperary net in the 59th minute: 1-15 to 1-11.

Callanan's free reduced the gap with eight minutes left but John Power pounced for Kilkenny's second goal in the 63rd minute to leave six between them: a couple of initial goal efforts were blocked down and the sliothar spun up invitingly for the Carrickshock clubman who first-timed it to the empty net from a few feet out.

Tipp refused to give up and they came back with points from O'Dwyer ('65') and Brendan Maher either side of a sublime Padraig Walsh effort for the winners before Callanan fired the proverbial cat back amongst the pigeons when drilling a low shot to the net in the 69th minute after benefiting from a fortunate deflection.

Callanan's second major set up a frantic finale but the last say of this epic saga went to Colin Fennelly as he fired over his third point in the third minute of injury time and the Cats confirmed their superiority yet again.

Kilkenny: E Murphy; P Murphy, JJ Delaney, J Tyrrell; P Walsh (0-1), K Joyce, C Buckley; M Fennelly (0-2), C Fogarty; C Fennelly (0-3), R Hogan (0-2), E Larkin (0-2); R Power (1-1, 1f), TJ Reid (0-5, 5f), J Power (1-1). Subs: H Shefflin for Hogan, L Ryan for M Fennelly.

Tipperary: D Gleeson; C Barrett, J Barry, P Stapleton; B Maher (0-1), Pádraic Maher, K Bergin; S McGrath (0-3), J Woodlock; G Ryan, J O'Dwyer (0-3, 1 65), L Corbett; N McGrath (0-2), S Callanan (2-5, 4f, 0-1 pen), Patrick Maher. Subs: M Cahill for S McGrath, C O'Mahony for Ryan, S Bourke for Corbett, J Forde for N McGrath, J O'Brien for O'Dwyer.

Ref: B Gavin (Offaly).

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