By Sinéad McGlynn.
Tipperary put an end to Kilkenny’s three in a row aspirations as they claimed a comprehensive nine-point victory over the Cats in Sunday's All-Ireland Senior Hurling decider at Croke Park.
The Premier County had lead by two at the interval, 0-14 to 0-12, but really upped the ante in the second half as they outscored their opponents 2-15 to 2-08.
Seamus Callanan opened the scoring for the day as he split the posts after two minutes. Kevin Kelly then responded for Kilkenny and by the sixth minute his side was two in front thanks to further points from a TJ Reid free and a Richie Hogan point from play.
Tipperary responded impressively with an excellent score from John O’Dwyer while the sides traded the next two points from Walter Walsh and Noel McGrath before Seamus Kennedy’s effort had the sides level after 11 minutes.
A minute later, a second pointed free from Reid gave Brian Cody’s men a narrow advantage, yet only momentarily as John McGrath levelled once more.
Eoin Larkin and Callanan going score for score as the pace intensified. As Reid and Callanan then both done the necessary as the game entered the twentieth minute, with the teams locked at seven points apiece.
Reid would then float over his fourth, again from the placed ball, but Tipp quickly replied through O’Dwyer.
Eoin Larkin then pointed, moments after seeing a goal chance going awry, but once more O’Dwyer claimed an equaliser.
Callahan and Dan McCormack with further scores for Tipperary only for Cillian Buckley and Reid to reply for Kilkenny.
Patrick Maher got in on the scoring act on the half-hour mark, but a sixth pointed free from Reid quickly levelled up the encounter.
Late scores from Callanan and O’Dwyer finally put breathing space between the sides as the would-be champions edged in front.
After the turnaround, Callanan restarted the scoring only for two Reid scores which left just the minimum between them.
Kelly then on target for the first goal of the game as Kilkenny battled back but the Premier men were in no mood to let their earlier good work go to waste and replied through a Callanan free and a Jason Forde point.
The latter’s effort coming mere seconds after he was introduced as a substitute.
An inspirational effort from Callanan quickly restored Tipperary’s lead and it would soon be fortified as O’Dwyer sent a blistering effort to the back of the net.
Padraic Maher and a Reid free would then cancel each other out before Tipperary claimed the next three scores through a Callanan brace and a point from John McGrath.
With 14 left to play Padraig Walsh hit back with a brace, either side of a reply from Callanan but a McGrath point then made it a seven-point game. Reid would then claim another free, only for Forde to reply, moments later.
Kelly then pointed to reduce the gap to six points as the gap entered the last ten.
The hour mark saw two goals in the space of a minute as McGrath hit the net for Tipp, only for Hogan to do likewise for the Cats, at the other end. O’Dwyer and Callanan kept the scores coming late on, and while Reid tapped over a free, points from Callanan and a superb finishing effort from Patrick Maher put the result well beyond down as the contest drew to a close.