Hurling and camogie

All-Ireland SHC final - all the analysis from Tipperary v Kilkenny

Kilkenny's John Donnelly and Tipperary's Noel McGrath come together during yesterday's All-Ireland SHC final. Picture by Philip Walsh
Neil Loughran

KILKENNY TACTICAL TAKE

KILKENNY settled into their stride early on, giving Tipp little room to breathe as they came out from the back and drawing frees from the Premier men to establish an early lead. The Cats were holding out well in defence initially as Tipp struggled to find space, were using the ball well and Colin Fennelly’s pace was causing Ronan Maher bother.

Kilkenny failed to ram home their superiority when on top, and from the last 15 minutes of the first half - and especially when Niall O’Meara scored the first goal – it was one-way traffic.

The loss of Richie Hogan made life much more difficult against a side with the ability Tipp possess, and where the Cats are renowned for coming flying from the blocks in the third quarter, this is when they were put to the sword.

They persisted with the long ball in towards Fennelly and Adrian Mullen, with TJ Reid sent into the square as desperation took hold, but the Tipp backs dominated the skies and were then able to exploit the space left in Hogan’s absence as Kilkenny were picked off.

TIPPERARY TACTICAL TAKE

IF Tipperary can find the space for their front six to do damage, they’ll win the game. That was the conventional wisdom beforehand, and so it proved – though it took time for them to click into gear.

The slippery conditions, some uncharacteristic fumbles and dogged Kilkenny defensive work saw the Cats hold the upper hand early on, but Niall O’Meara’s goal was the break they had been looking for – and they didn’t look back from that point.

Took full advantage of playing against 14 men at the start of the second half, going for the jugular and killing Kilkenny’s hope. And where Ronan Maher, Padraic Maher and Seamus Callanan had all struggled to impose themselves in the first half, they excelled after the break as Tipp turned the screw.

Ronan Maher was rock solid under the high ball, Padraic Maher swept up breaks, produced an outrageous block to deny Walter Walsh and drove forward at will, while Callanan scored one goal and made another within 10 minutes of the restart.

And as the game opened up, there was only ever going to be one winner.

KEY BATTLE

Ronan Maher (Tipperary) v Colin Fennelly (Kilkenny)

IT was a bit of a risk taking Maher out of the half-back line to pick up the livewire Fennelly, and initial impressions were that it may not pay off. Twice the Ballyhale Shamrocks man escaped Maher’s attention and, although he hadn’t troubled the scoreboard, it looked as though his pace and mobility could be too much.

But after going down to 14 men, and finding themselves caught by a Tipp blitz at the start of the second half, the Cats opted to go long and target breaks. However, Maher minded the house brilliantly, giving an exhibition of high fielding in the face of that aerial bombardment.

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TURNING POINT

THE red card shown to Richie Hogan after 33 minutes was undoubtedly a big turning point, but Niall O’Meara’s goal seven minutes earlier was the break Tipperary had been waiting for after a frustrating first 20 minutes.

It came after a superb catch from Padraic Maher in the middle of the field, he unleashed O’Meara and at last one of the Tipp forwards had green grass to run into. From the minute he had the ball in his hand, there was nothing else in O’Meara’s mind as he fired beyond Eoin Murphy to turn the tide in the Premier’s favour.

Even if Hogan had been on the field in the second half, you feel Tipp were always going to find the space to punish Kilkenny as the game wore on.

TOP SCORE

NIALL O’Meara’s clinical finish for the first goal was superb, but the third goal was a wonderfully worked move that culminated in a classy finish from John ‘Bubbles’ O’Dwyer to put Tipp well in the driving seat. Brendan Maher won possession and found Seamus Callanan out on the wing. Callanan turned back and took one look before flashing a superb pass into O’Dwyer, who wasted no time in dispatching the sliothar beyond Eoin Murphy.

REF WATCH

RICHIE Hogan had come in for some rough treatment, and it might have been frustration that led to him catching Cathal Barrett with a shoulder as the second half neared. On first look it appeared harsh, but replays suggest Wexford whistler James Owens had little option but to flash the red card – a decision he took after considerable deliberation and consultation with his officials.

Kilkenny, and plenty more inside Croke Park, didn’t agree. Tipp forward Jason Forde was shown a yellow card for a similarly high challenge on Eoin Murphy, only adding to Kilkenny’s ire.

Read more:

Match report - Tipperary take command after Hogan feels full force of the law

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