Goals from Niall O’Meara, Seamus Callanan and John O’Dwyer helped Tipperary to an emphatic 3-25 to 0-20 All-Ireland SHC final victory over Kilkenny at Croke Park.
Tipp are champions for the 28th time and first since 2016, this win completing a fairytale second coming at the helm for manager Liam Sheedy, who returned to lead the Premier County this season, back in charge for the first time since guiding them to the 2010 title … when they also beat Kilkenny in the final.
For the Cats, the game turned when they had Richie Hogan sent off late in the first half. Playing the second half with 14 men, the beaten Leinster finalists were outscored by 2-16 to 0-9, 2-14 of that Tipp second-half scoring burst coming from play. Twelve different Tipperary players registered as they mercilessly inflicted on the Black & Amber the heaviest defeat of the Brian Cody era.
The Premier County, who lost to Limerick in the Munster final, led by the minimum at the end of a dramatic opening period – 1-9 to 0-11 – with their opponents down to 14 men after Hogan was shown a straight red card shortly before the break. O’Meara stitched the sliothar to the back of the net in the 26th minute, his low drive at the end of a dizzying run belting along the wet surface to beat Eoin Murphy and put paid to the Noresiders’ impressive start to the game.
Kilkenny were in the driving seat after 20 minutes, leading by 0-8 to 0-3 and having left a number of scoring chances behind them. But they were outscored by 1-6 to 0-3 in the 15 minutes before half time and also lost a man during that defining spell.
Displaying insatiable hunger, Tipp - who remember had failed to get out of Munster last year - roared out onto the pitch first, half an hour prior to throw-in, with the Cats – who had been due out first – hot on their heels. Sun out and a breeze whipping across the field, the stage was set for a pulsating contest.
Tipp won the toss and elected to play into the Davin End in the first half. On target eight times before the interval, TJ Reid struck first from a free and tapped over his second after a John McGrath hook had denied Colin Fennelly what looked like a definite goal.
With the rain now spilling down, midfielder Michael Breen opened Tipp’s account on three minutes and Hogan replied three minutes later. Reid arrowed over his own free before Jason Forde tapped over a Tipp free that arguably should have been a penalty as the foul on Callanan looked to be inside the square.
Reid’s next free followed a foul on Walter Walsh in the 13th minute but Forde replied in kind before Reid stroked over his fifth free to make it double scores after 17 minutes, 0-6 to 0-3.
Tipperary captain Seamus Callanan lifts the Liam MacCarthy Cup. ©INPHO/Ryan Byrne.
Hawk-eye decreed that John Donnelly’s dropping shot had gone between the posts before Brian Hogan caught it and a seventh Cats point was awarded, followed by another from a Red free from inside his own half. Forde’s brace (‘65’, free) reduced the arrears to three before O’Meara’s goal tied the scores up and Forde nudged the Premier County ahead for the first time from his second ‘65’, cancelled out immediately by another Reid free.
Seamus Kennedy replied to Donnelly’s second point and John McGrath restored Tipp’s advantage four minutes from the break. Critically, the Cats were reduced to 14 men two minutes from the break when Hogan – possibly seeking retribution for an earlier foul (when Barrett caught him high) – foolishly caught Cathal Barrett with a dangerous elbow to the head under the Hogan Stand and was shown a straight red. The game would now change dramatically, as the weather had done throughout...
Reid’s injury-time free meant the sides were level for the fourth time but Noel McGrath eased over a free at the other end to close the first-half action.
The floodlights came on for the second half and soon the floodgates would open. Reid thumped over his ninth free to equalise. However, on 37 minutes, daylight started to appear: Callanan slid in to get to the breaking ball first and net his eighth championship goal of the summer – one in every game! – and the gap was five points when he and O’Dwyer followed up with points, 2-11 to 1-12 after 40 minutes.
Walter Walsh’s shot was inches over the Tipp bar but, following a second Kennedy point, O’Dwyer took Callanan’s pass and – with acres of space in front of goal – lashed emphatically to the net to make it an eight-point game after 42 minutes, 3-12 to 0-13. No way back.
Reid’s tenth point came from play but John McGrath replied, Noel McGrath then striking to leave three goals between the sides with 24 minutes remaining. Reid (free) and substitute Billy Ryan foraged scores for the 14 men but Forde thumped two over from play – the first after wonderful set-up play by Noel McGrath in the Dublin 3 sunshine.
Donnelly and Forde (free) exchanged frees as the three goals continued to separate the sides with 15 minutes remaining. With winning full back Barry Heffernan giving an exhibition of brilliant defending under the high ball, Fennelly and substitute Mark Kehoe traded the next two points
Padraic Maher’s block denied Walter Walsh a Kilkenny goal, Padraig Walsh pulling back a consolation point on the hour, only only for substitute and U20 ace Jake Morris to hit back, O’Dwyer instantly making it a ten-point match – 3-20 to 0-19.
John McGrath replied to Ryan’s second and sub Ger Browne grabbed himself a fantastic All-Ireland final point for the victors before fellow replacement Willie Connors bagged a brilliant brace. Prior to collecting the Liam MacCarthy Cup and his third All-Ireland medal, winning captain Callanan stroked over a late, late free. A dream day for Seamus and his fellow countymen!
Tipperary - B Hogan; C Barrett, B Heffernan, R Maher; B Maher, Padraic Maher, S Kennedy (0-2); N McGrath (0-2, 1f), M Breen (0-1); D McCormack, J O'Dwyer (1-2), N O'Meara (1-0); J Forde (0-8, 5f, 2'65), S Callanan (1-2, 0-1f), J McGrath (0-3). Subs: M Kehoe (0-1) for N O'Meara, W Connors (0-2) for D McCormack, J Morris (0-1) for J Forde, S O'Brien for C Barrett, G Browne (0-1) for M Breen.
Kilkenny - E Murphy; P Murphy, H Lawlor, J Holden; C Fogarty, P Walsh (0-1), P Deegan; C Browne, C Buckley; J Donnelly (0-3), TJ Reid (0-11, 10f), W Walsh (0-1); A Mullen, C Fennelly (0-1); R Hogan (0-1). Subs: C Delaney for J Holden, B Ryan (0-2) for A Mullen, R Leahy for C Buckley, J Maher for C Browne.
Referee - J Owens.Tweet