GAA Hurling All-Ireland Semi-Final: Tipperary 1-15 Kilkenny 4-24
Report from the GAA.ie web site
Kilkenny wore all their finery at Croke Park on Sunday as they produced a performance to rival their very best and defeat Tipperary by an incredible 18 points in the All-Ireland semi-final. Remarkably, they outscored Tipperary by 19 points in the second half, scoring 3-15 in a 35 minute spell of such bewildering majesty that it could well rank as their greatest ever spell of hurling. Tipperary led by 1-10 to 1-9 at the break after an extremely tight first half, and after 44 minutes there was still just two points between the teams.
However, it was then that Kilkenny turned up the heat, first through a superb individual goal from Aidan Fogarty, and then shortly afterwards with another three-pointer from Eoin Larkin. Those goals helped forge a gap of 10 points with 15 minutes to go, but Kilkenny reserved their most dominant spell for the final stages, ruthlessly punishing Tipperary all over the park, and landing point after point, until a fourth goal from TJ Reid rubbed a final dab of salt into the Premier wounds. At the end of the storm, the gap was 18 points, a mind-blowing tally given that in the last three years, just one point has separated the sides in a trilogy of All-Ireland finals.
At half-time, such an outcome was hardly plausible, as Tipperary led by a point after a sensational first half full of incident. The game began in heated fashion, with a few schemozzles taking place in the early seconds after Aidan Fogarty had got the first point of the game for Kilkenny. It was nip and tuck for the first 20 minutes or so, with the sides trading scores of exceptional quality. Kilkenny were 0-4 to 0-2 ahead after 10 minutes after Fogarty's second point, but then a superb score from Conor O'Mahony, and points from Bourke and Noel McGrath, either side of a brilliant effort from Richie Power, left it 0-5 apiece.
The sides then exchanged the next four scores, but it was around this stage that Kilkenny began to gain the initiative, and they moved two points clear at 0-9 to 0-7 when a Henry Shefflin free followed a fine score from Colin Fennelly. Then, Kilkenny struck for goal. Shefflin, who had been very quiet to that point, brilliantly caught a ball in midfield, raced towards goal and passed beautifully to TJ Reid, who fired smartly and low to the net. That score put Kilkenny five ahead with time running out in the first half, but the Tipperary response was exemplary.
Just three minutes after the goal, Tipp plundered one of their own. Kilkenny goalkeeper David Herity won a race for possession with two Tipp attackers, but upon winning the ball, he dallied, was dispossessed, and Pa Bourke was on hand to tap into an empty net. Tipp then finished the half with three unanswered points to go in at the break ahead, Bourke (2) and Noel McGrath fizzing balls over the bar for them. Both sides flashed over scores after the restart, but then two powerful set-pieces from Richie Power put Kilkenny 1-14 to 1-12 ahead. Then, in the classic Kilkenny style which has left so many teams on the floor in the last decade, they struck two goals in the space of a few minutes.
Fogarty got the first, dashing off on a mazy run before hitting a shot to the top right hand corner which Brendan Cummins probably should have saved. Bourke and Cillian Buckley traded scores in the seconds afterwards, but then a Shefflin free extended the gap to six. That was followed by a third Kilkenny goal, this one coming from Larkin, who beat his man and finished well after the smartest of assists from Shefflin, who flicked a high ball right into the path of his half-forward ally. It was pure symphony by now from Kilkenny, and TJ Reid's second goal, Kilkenny's fourth, summed up their elegance and dominance, a classy weave and turn before a killer finish to the net. It was relentless stuff by now, and Tipperary didn't know where to look.
That left the score at 4-17 to 1-13, and Kilkenny weren't done, adding seven more points before the finish to stamp home their authority with the killer instinct that has become their preserve. It all means they have now reached 13 of the last 15 All-Ireland finals, and will now face Galway, their conquerors from the Leinster final, at Croke Park on September 9.
Scorers for Tipperary: P Bourke 1-8 (4f, 4 '65), J O'Neill 0-2, N McGrath 0-2, S McGrath 0-1, C O'Mahony 0-1, J O'Brien 0-1
Scorers for Kilkenny: H Shefflin 0-11 (9f, 1 '65), TJ Reid 2-2, A Fogarty 1-3, R Power 0-3 (1f, 1 '65), E Larkin 1-0, M Fennelly 0-1, M Rice 0-1, C Fennelly 0-1, C Buckley 0-1, B Hogan 0-1
Tipperary: B Cummins; C O'Brien, P Curran, M Cahill; T Stapleton, C O'Mahony, Padraic Maher; B Maher, S McGrath; P Bourke, Patrick Maher, L Corbett; B O'Meara, J O'Brien, N McGrath.
Subs: S Bourke for B O'Meara (46), P Stapleton for T Stapleton (46), D Maher for P Curran (61), J O'Neill for J O'Brien (63), J Woodlock for B Maher (66).
Kilkenny: D Herity; P Murphy, JJ Delaney, J Tyrrell; T Walsh, B Hogan, K Joyce; M Fennelly, M Rice; H Shefflin, TJ Reid, E Larkin; C Fennelly, R Power, A Fogarty.
Subs: C Buckley for M Rice (19), R Doyle for P Murphy (64), N Hickey for K Joyce (64), M Ruth for C Fennelly (64), C Fogarty for A Fogarty (67).