/ GAA

Kilkenny 2-17 Tipperary 1-16

Updated: Monday, 05 Sep 2011 00:07

Michael Fennelly - Celebrates scoring the opening goal for Kilkenny
Michael Fennelly - Celebrates scoring the opening goal for Kilkenny

Kilkenny held out in a thriller to defeat defending champions Tipperary and win their 33rd All-Ireland Hurling title at Croke Park.

Meeting in the decider for the third year in a row, two fiercely committed sides laid on another compelling encounter, never waning in its pace and intensity.

Michael Fennelly and Richie Hogan grabbed the vital goals, late in each half, while the legendary Henry Shefflin celebrated his eighth title triumph with a seven-points haul.

For Brian Cody, it was also an eighth Liam McCarthy Cup success as a manager, and this one was achieved against the odds, but in typically stoic Kilkenny fashion.

In front of a crowd of 81,314, Kilkenny made a flying start, racing into a five-point lead inside the opening 13 minutes, with scores from Henry Shefflin, Eoin Larkin, Richie Power and a superb Richie Hogan effort.

With Tommy Walsh an immense presence at the back and Noel Hickey delivering long, relieving clearances, the Tipp attack was squeezed out of the game.

Jackie Tyrrell snuffed out the threat posed by Lar Corbett, with last year’s hat-trick hero an anonymous figure throughout the opening half.

Michael Cahill had to make a crucial intercept as Eddie Brennan headed for goal, but Tipp finally began to win possession around the middle, for Noel McGrath to sweep over their opening point in the 16th minute from long range.

Eoin Kelly followed up with the first of his four first-half converted frees, and it was referee Brian Gavin who came out worst of a scuffle on 19 minutes, suffering a bloodied nose following a belt from a flailing hurl, an incident which delayed the game for more than four minutes as medics patched the Offaly man up.

Brennan and Shefflin swapped scores with Kelly, and the Cats were three points ahead when they struck for a 35th minute goal.

Shefflin picked out Hogan, who spotted Michael Fennelly charging through the middle, providing the perfectly-timed inside pass for the midfielder to drill a low shot past Brendan Cummins.

Kilkenny led by 1-08 to 0-06 at the interval, and tightened their grip with scores from Shefflin, Colin Fennelly and Power.

Tipp, faced with a seven-point deficit, raised their game with Conor O’Mahony and Kelly narrowing the gap, but they were stunned by a second Kilkenny goal on 49 minutes.

Brennan sprinted through the middle before offloading to Hogan, who gave Cummins no chance with a sensational angled finish.

But Tipperary dug deep and displayed courage and belief to get themselves back in the game.

Corbett slipped a neat pass to Pa Bourke, and the substitute fired a low shot past David Herity to cut the margin to four, 2-13 to 1-12, with 55 minutes played.

Kelly fired over his eighth free to cut Kilkenny’s lead to three with five minutes to play, but Shefflin responded with his seventh.

The champions gave it one last push, but were unable to break down a heroic Cats defence for a goal, with Noel Hickey, Michael Cahill and the brilliant Walsh standing firm.

Kelly converted his eighth free and Gearoid Ryan powered over a point, but Larkin’s insurance score sealed the deal for triumphant Kilkenny.

Kilkenny: D Herity, P Murphy, N Hickey, J Tyrrell, T Walsh, B Hogan, J.J. Delaney, M Fennelly (1-0), M Rice (0-1), E Brennan (0-1), R Power (0-2), H Shefflin (0-7, 5f), C Fennelly (0-2), E Larkin (0-2), R Hogan (1-1)

Subs: TJ Reid (0-1) for Brennan, J Mulhall for R Hogan

Tipperary: B Cummins, P Stapleton, P Curran, M Cahill, J O'Keeffe, C O'Mahony (0-1), Padraic Maher, G Ryan (0-2), S McGrath, S Callanan, N McGrath (0-3, 1 s/l), Patrick Maher, E Kelly (0-8, 7f, 1 ’65), J O'Brien (0-1), L Corbett

Subs: B Maher for O’Keefe, B Dunne (0-1) for S McGrath, P Bourke (1-0) for Callanan, D Young for O’Mahony, J O’Neill for O’Brien

Referee: B Gavin (Offaly)