Kilkenny 2-26 Tipperary 4-17 (AET)

Updated: Sunday, 03 May 2009 20:00

Kilkenny's JJ Delaney gets to grips with Micheál Webster of Tipperary
Kilkenny's JJ Delaney gets to grips with Micheál Webster of Tipperary

Richie Hogan was Kilkenny's scoring ace at the Cats beat Tipperary by three points after extra-time at Semple Stadium to win the Allianz NHL Division One title.

Tipp led for the majority of this absorbing game but faded in extra-time after the two teams finished locked on 2-17 to 3-14 after 70 minutes.

James Woodlock, John O'Brien, Seamus Callanan and Noel McGrath hit the Tipp goals, while Hogan, who finished with a personal tally of 1-10, and Aidan Fogarty found the net for Kilkenny.

Tipp had received a 17-point beating from Kilkenny in March, and Liam Sheedy's men knew a good start would vital if they were to avoid a similar fate.

Kilkenny were first on the scoreboard, however, with Henry Shefflin finding his range inside the opening 28 seconds. The Ballyhale Shamrocks clubman added another Tipp got their first goal.

Kilkenny wing-back James Ryall was dispossessed inside his own parallelogram and Woodlock was on hand to kick the sliotar past the helpless PJ Ryan. Tipp midfielder Shane McGrath used a bit of improvisation to land his side's first point before a brilliant diagonal ball from him found O'Brien who rifled to the net to put them five points ahead after just seven minutes.

And things really seemed to be going the Munster side’s way when Kilkenny centre-back Brian Hogan was forced to leave the field with a shoulder injury.

The match was played at Championship pace, with plenty of niggle and hard-hitting. And both sides had a man yellow-carded when Tipp’s Declan Fanning and Kilkenny’s Martin Comerford were punished for manhandling each other.

Seamus Callanan was performing well at centre-forward for Tipp and his huge wind-assisted point from a free behind his own 65 metre line helped ensure the defending league champions led by 2-07 to 0-08 at the break.

But the Cats would have closer had Brendan Cummins not pulled off an amazing save at full-stretch to deny Shefflin just before the short whistle. While they may have been unlucky with that incident, they were fortunate attacker Eddie Brennan did not to see yellow or even red when he appeared to elbow one of his opponents.

Everyone expected Kilkenny to come out strongly in the second half, but it was Tipp who scored first after the resumption as Callanan’s low shot after taking a handpass from the excellent Lar Corbett evaded Ryan’s stick and went into the corner of the net.

But Kilkenny delivered the perfect response when moments later Hogan blasted past Tipp goalkeeper Brendan Cummins from an acute angle to cancel out Callanan's effort.

A handpass from Shefflin set up Hogan and it would prove to be the Kilkenny captain's last good act as he was yellow-carded and had to leave the field on 41 minutes after he came in late and high on Shane McGrath.

Hogan assumed the free-taking responsibilities, and also contributed a brilliant point from play in the 48th minute he split the posts with a shot straight off his hurl.

And two minutes later Kilkenny grabbed their second goal when Fogarty sent a rasping shot across the bows of Cummins and into the corner of the net.

The All-Ireland champions should lost the services of Tommy Walsh in the 56th minute when he somehow avoided censure for throwing his hurl at John O'Brien as the Tipperary captain was in the process of scoring a point.

It took Kilkenny until the 68th to draw level, with Fogarty the man to hit the target after good work from Michael Grace along the end line.

Kilkenny looked to have clinched the game when Hogan landed a fantastic free from the 65 metre line out at the right sideline, but Noel McGrath equalised for Tipp with a free of his own after Ryall had been guilty if over-carrying.

Michael Kavanagh became the third Kilkenny man to see yellow eight minutes into the first-half of extra time. A minute later Tipp almost got their fourth goal when Micheál Webster’s shot got past Ryan but was cleared off the line.

But Tipp would get that fourth goal before the extra-time switch around when Corbett passed to Noel McGrath who buried the sliotar into the back of the net.

There were many highlights in this game, and one came two minutes after the restart when TJ Reid converted a sideline cut from a huge distance out. Three more points from Hogan and one from Eoin Larkin had Kilkenny a goal ahead heading into injury time.

Brendan Cummins ventured up the pitch to try and convert a 25 metre free, but he blazed over the bar and Tipp’s chances of retaining their title had gone.

There was just enough time for another special moment, however, as Eddie Brennan wrapped up the scoring with a monster drive from fully 100 yards.