Kilkenny 3-22 Tipperary 1-28
Kilkenny and Tipperary have played out an incredible draw in this year's All-Ireland SHC final at Croke Park, 3-22 to 1-28.
Arguably the greatest final ever had the right result as Tipperary, who missed two penalties, came from four points down to claim a draw.
And the Premier County could have snatched it in stoppage time when John ‘Bubbles’ O’Dwyer, scorer of 0-07, was inches wide with a free from inside his own half, with Hawk-Eye called in amid dramatic scenes.
82,179 spectators were present for another modern day classic between the two counties, who will replay at Croke Park on Saturday, 27 September at 5pm.
Remarkably, this is the third successive year that the All-Ireland senior hurling final has ended in a draw.
Tipp will feel they could have won it as Séamus Callanan and O’Dwyer, who contributed 0-14 between them, had penalties saved in either half by Kilkenny goalkeeper Eoin Murphy.
But the Cats will argue that the fouls leading to both awards were committed outside of the large parallellogram.
Lar Corbett also smashed a second-half shot off Murphy’s right-hand upright at the Canal End and Gearóid Ryan shot over when well placed.
But Kilkenny had their chances too, pouncing for three goals and unlucky for another when leading scorer, TJ Reid, on fire throughout, had an effort swatted away by Darren Gleeson, who endured a couple of nervy moments in the first half.
As early as the 10th minute, Kilkenny also had a two-on-one situation but Colin Fennelly fluffed his lines as he attempted to funnel the ball through to brother Michael and the chance was lost.
And there was more. In the 42nd minute, Callanan’s shot was blocked after taking a pass from Corbett and with 13 minutes remaining, Patrick ‘Bonner’ Maher saw his fierce drive brilliantly tipped over the crossbar by Murphy.
There was a missed free by Reid with ten minutes remaining, when the Ballyhale wizard struck the upright but Richie Hogan, magnificent with a haul of 0-06 from play, picked up the pieces to fire the Leinster champions into a four-point lead, 3-21 to 1-23.
But back came Tipp from that four-point deficit, with Callanan and Paddy Stapleton reducing the deficit to just two.
Reid’s 66th-minute free pushed Kilkenny three ahead again but scores from O’Dwyer, sub Jason Forde and O’Dwyer again hauled Tipp level.
The scene was set for a seismic climax and O’Dwyer almost provided it.
From 97 metres out, O’Dwyer launched a breeze-assisted effort into the Canal End which drifted inches wide.
Hawk-Eye confirmed how close the Killenaule man had come to settling a titanic clash, one which eclipsed even the brilliant 2009 and 2010 finals between the sides.
All told, this was the fourth final meeting between the sides in six years. This one was level twelve times and in truth, a draw was the proper outcome.
The game ebbed and flowed from end to end right from the start, with the teams deadlocked three times within the opening 17 minutes.
And then Tipp opened up with a run of scores that kicked them into a six point lead, 1-09 to 0-06.
Callanan’s 18th-minute free and a Shane McGrath point had Tipp two clear before Paul Murphy fouled ‘Bonner’ Maher.
Barry Kelly consulted with his umpires before awarding the penalty, which Callanan failed to connect well with from the 20m line.
Indeed, when O’Dwyer missed a 59th-minute penalty, the debate about the fairness of three on the line against one striker from the 20m line reared its head again.
Corbett clipped over a 25th-minute point to leave Tipp in a commanding position but Kilkenny were back in business when Hogan pointed before TJ Reid placed Richie Power for the first of his two goals.
On and on they went like two punch-drunk boxers before half-time, with Tipp edging it by 1-13 to 1-11 at the break.
After drawing breath, the close to capacity crowd settled in for 37 more tumultuous minutes in the second half.
Within a minute of the restart, Reid whipped home a majestic goal at the Hill 16 end but Tipp wouldn’t buckle.
With 22 minutes of normal time remaining, they were very much on the back foot again, however, as Michael Fennelly fed Power for his second goal.
Tipp kept plugging away but couldn’t get to within striking distance, until that late surge ensured parity.
KILKENNY: E Murphy; J Tyrrell, JJ Delaney, J Holden; P Murphy, B Hogan (0-01), C Buckley; R Hogan (0-06), C Fogarty (0-01); C Fennelly (0-01), M Fennelly (0-01), E Larkin (0-02); R Power (2-01), TJ Reid (1-08, 0-06f), W Walsh (0-01).
Subs: A Fogarty for W Walsh (49), P Walsh for Holden (61), L Ryan for C Fennelly (67), J Power for R Hogan (70+2).
TIPPERARY: D Gleeson; C Barrett, J Barry, P Stapleton (0-01); K Bergin, B Maher, Pádraic Maher; S McGrath (0-02), J Woodlock (0-01); G Ryan (0-01), L Corbett (0-02), Patrick Maher (1-01); J O’Dwyer (0-07, 2f), S Callanan (0-07, 2f), N McGrath (0-04).
Subs: M Cahill (0-01) for Ryan (50), E Kelly for Woodlock (64), J Forde (0-01) for S McGrath (66), J O’Brien for Callanan (70+1).
Referee: B Kelly (Westmeath).