Kilkenny, playing with passion and no small amount of skill, thundered past old rivals Tipperary and into the final with a comfortable 3-18 to 2-16 victory in their National Hurling League clash at Nowlan Park today.
The winners had a place in the final against Clare wrapped-up since last weekend, but that didn't bring about an easing of attitude or approach as they won through to what will be their third League decider in four years.
Tipp opened with fire and enthusiasm, and twice during the opening quarter they showed in front. However, after Kilkenny goal through Eoin Larkin in the 16th minute (1-5 to 1-3) they were never pegged back.
A second goal from Henry Shefflin, this one in the 21st minute, helped the winners into a strong interval lead of 2-10 to 2-4.
Tipperary resumed full of intent, but they shot six wides - they had 15 in all - before adding to their tally after the turn.
By that stage James Ryall and Martin Comerford had boosted the Kilkenny led with points, and the vistors were struggling.
Tipp's first point of the half from John Devane was followed by a very good score from Eoin Kelly. However, in the mood Kilkenny hit back swiftly and strongly.
A long ball from defence by Richard Mullally was won by Eoin Larkin, and he forced his way through the Tipp defence to shoot a goal.
Wtih the difference at 3-12 to 2-6 Tipperary now look to the Munster championship and a May 15 meeting with Limerick.
Kilkenny play Clare in the League final next Sunday or Monday. That promises to be a intriguing clash, as the Banner men were the one side to beat the Cats in the current League.
Kilkenny: J. McGarry, M. Kavanagh, N. Hickey, J. Tyrrell, R. Mullally, B. Hogan, J.J. Delaney, B. Barry (0-01, 1f), J. Ryall (0-03), M. Comerford (0-03), E. Larkin (2-03), T. Walsh (0-01), R. Power, D.J. Carey, H. Shefflin (1-06)
Subs: M. Phelan for Kavanagh 36th min; K. Coogan for Mullally 58th min; J. Fitzpatrick for Barry 58th min; E. McCormack (0-01) for Power 58th min; J. Hoyne for Carey 64th min.
Tipperary: B. Cummins, P. Curran, P. Maher, H. Moloney, D. Fanning, E. Corcoran, D. Fitzgerald, T. Slevin, B. Dunne (0-02, 1f), M. O'Leary, F. Devanney (1-0), J. Devane (0-01), E. Kelly (0-09: 4f, one 65, one 2-pointer) D. Egan, L. Corbett (1-01).
Subs: T. Dunne (0-01) for Egan 40th min; G. O'Grady (0-01) for O'Leary yellow carded 45th min; P. Kelly (0-01) for Slevin 47th min; E. Buckley for Moloney 60th min; P. Kelly for Devane 65th min.