BY NIALL SHERRY
Injury time free gives home side the points
Allianz National Hurling League Division 1B
Semple Stadium, Thurles,
Sunday February 13th 2022
Tipperary edged their great rivals Kilkenny by 1 point, following an exciting encounter in Semple Stadium last Sunday. Jason Forde’s tenth score of the day, a free deep into stoppage time, proved the difference between two sides clearly fighting to find their identity and find a way to compete at the ‘Limerick level’.
On this showing, both sides still have plenty to work on and improve on, if they are to mount a credible championship challenge as the year goes on. The first half especially did little to stir the large crowd in attendance, as sloppy play, coupled with poor shooting ensured that there was no championship feel to this game between these fierce opponents.
Playing with a very strong wind in the 1st half, The Premier County registered the first score in the sixth minute, Jason Forde slotting over a free. The same player notched the next two points, one from another placed ball, the second a mighty fine score over the shoulder from play on 10 minutes.
Brian Cody’s men opened their account at the fourth time of asking through Thomastown’s John Donnelly 12th minute point. Tipp’s net minder, Brian Hogan then struck over a long-range free, highlighting the serious wind advantage that his side had. The home crowd warmed their hands in appreciation of the strike by the Lorrha Dorrha club man. Bennettsbridge defender, David Blanchfield then found some space and took the opportunity to fire over a lovely point on 16 minutes.
Tullaroan’s Padraig Walsh, who has been deployed on the opposition’s ‘40 in the league campaign to date, then rifled over the best score to date, as the Kilkenny travelling faithful found their voices. The next two scores came from the home side, as Jake Morris and Barry Heffernan added to Colm Bonnar’s side’s tally. Then on 21 minutes, Young Ireland’s Mikey Carey charged forward and split the posts with a quality effort, to reduce the host’s lead to two points, 0-6 to 0-4.
The home side then hit four unanswered points, with thanks to Ger Browne, Michael Breen, Thurles Sarsfields Denis Maher and that man Jason Forde, who struck another hefty score from his own half as Tipp seemed to be finding some sort of rhythm, to lead 0-10 to 0-4 after 30 minutes.
This scoring burst from Tipp seemed to awaken the cats, as they went on to score the next four on the bounce, with Conahy Shamrocks Tom Phelan getting the first of the three, and his sides first score in some 9 minutes. John Donnelly then pointed from a placed ball, before action man Padraig Walsh emerged from a ruck, before bursting clear and slotting over a confidence boosting score at the Killinan End of Semple Stadium. Then on 36 minutes, John Donnelly popped over a free to leave his side just two behind.
Eire Og’s Barry Heffernan then hit his second fine point of the day, as it looked like the home side would take a 3-point lead into the interval. Deep into first half stoppage time, Glenmore netminder, Eoin Murphy’s short puck-out went straight to Denis Maher, who reacted sharply to lay the ball off to the on-running Jake Morris, who made straight for goal. The Nenagh Éire Óg attacker produced a lovely skillful, one-handed finish to beat the disappointed Kilkenny No.1, and leave the score at the short whistle, Tipp 1-11 Kilkenny 0-8.
When play resumed in the second period, Cody’s charges had that significant wind advantage with them. They needed to get the score board ticking over, and the first score of the second half came from the Cats’ free taker, John Donnelly on 38 minutes. The ever-reliable Jason Forde then replied for the Premier County with a placed ball of his own.
Cian Kenny, who was operating in the engine room, then struck over a lovely score from distance, before The Sash’s Padraig Walsh notched his 3rd point of the day. Not to be outdone by his club mate Kenny, The Village’s Niall Brassil then pointed with 45 minutes on the clock, as the visiting Gaels made their presence felt in Thurles, as there was just one score between these arch rivals. O’Loughlin’s Paddy Deegan then hit a fine point as the Cats ate away at the Tipp lead. There was a definite lifting of the tempo by Cody’s Cats in the second period, and they were making use of the elements also.
Tullaroan’s Mossy Keoghan then got in on the scoring act, as he pointed to leave his side trailing by the minimum. The Tipp crowd were shifting a little more uncomfortably in their seats as they feared the worst. Kilkenny then registered their sixth score without reply, as John Donnelly silenced the home support. The score board now read, 1-12 to 0-15. The Cats had wiped out their opponent’s half-time lead by the 49th minute.
The home side needed to shake themselves and Goal scorer Jake Morris then got Tipp’s first score in some 10 minutes, as manager Bonnar sent on their vastly experienced captain Ronan Maher, who pointed within three minutes of taking to the pitch. Jason Forde then hit 3 points in a row, as the host’s looked to be back in control, as the weather also appeared to be turning in their favour. Tipp had now hit five without reply.
Kilkenny then went on the attack in search of a revitalising score. A long ball from the Cats defence caused a little panic in the Tipp defence. The Ball was taken in by Billy Ryan, who cut in from the right and despite being fouled by his marker, he managed to give a superb hand pass to James Stephens club man Tadgh O’Dwyer, who took the sliotar and rifled the shot under Tipp keeper Hogan. Was another come back now on the cards as the Cats only trailed by 2 points with 62 minutes on the clock.
Padraig Walsh then increased his personal tally to 4 points, before Tipp’s top scorer, Forde hit his fourth point from play to the raucous cheers of the home crowd. Tullogher-Rosbercon’s Walter Walsh then hit 2 scores back-to-back in the 65th & 69th minute to level the game, as it appeared that the spoils would indeed be shared in Thurles. However, Jason Forde had other ideas. His tenth score of the day, this time from a free, edged Tipp ahead deep into stoppage time. Time was not to be Kilkenny’s friend, as Galway whistler Liam Gordon brought play to a close, on a score line of Tipp 1-19, Kilkenny 1-18, as the home supporters celebrated the win with shouts of “Tipp, Tipp, Tipp”.
Tipperary Scorers: Jason Forde 0-10 (0-5f), Jake Morris 1-2, Barry Heffernan 0-2, Brian Hogan (0-1f), Michael Breen, Ger Browne, Denis Maher, Ronan Maher 0-1 each.
Kilkenny Scorers: John Donnelly 0-5 (0-5f), Padraig Walsh 0-4, Tadhg O’Dwyer 1-0, Walter Walsh 0-2, Martin Keoghan, David Blanchfield, Mikey Carey, Niall Brassil, Cian Kenny, Paddy Deegan, Tom Phelan 0-1 each.
TIPPERARY – Brian Hogan, C Barrett, J Quigley, C Morgan, D Quirke, S Kennedy, B Heffernan, A Flynn, M Breen, D McCormack, J Forde, G Browne, M Kehoe, D Maher, J Morris.
Subs: P Cadell for Breen (45 mins), R Maher for Browne (51 mins), S Callanan for D Maher (56 mins), P Flynn for Kehoe (67 mins), C Stakelum for McCormack (70 mins).
KILKENNY – E Murphy, M Butler, H Lawlor, E Cody, M Carey, N Brassil, D Blanchfield, C Kenny, P Deegan, R Leahy, P Walsh, T Phelan, B Ryan, M Keoghan, J Donnelly.
Subs: T Walsh for Cody (3 mins), W Walsh for Phelan (46 mins), T O’Dwyer for Leahy (57 mins), J Walsh for Donnelly (58 mins).
REF – Liam Gordon (Galway)
>> SHERRY SAYS………..
So that’s it folks. Tipperary are this years……..Oh sorry, that’s right, last Sunday’s game was round two of the Allianz National League. No Silverware. Darn.
Colm Bonnar’s men took the points (that’s all that was on offer!) in this exciting league encounter in Thurles. Liam McCarthy is never won in February.
Both teams have players to come back into their respective camps, and this will undoubtedly add to the squad depths, as we build towards the business end of the season, yes, that’s right, championship hurling.
Brian Cody will have been given plenty of food for thought, following his side’s up and down display in Thurles. Stand-out performers for the Cats were Padraig Walsh, who hit 4 lovely points. Huw Lawlor was given MOTM by many pundits, and had a great game. Cian Kenny showed promising signs, while the entire half-back line all got on the score board. Billy Ryan had a key role in many scores, including the major for Tadhg O’Dwyer, which breathed much life into the Kilkenny display.
Factor in the return of the Ballyhale contingent, and we’ll be grand.
Next up for Cody’s Cats will be the visit of ‘Cheddar’ Plunkett’s Laois. Points to be gained in this encounter.