The combo took advantage of a surprisingly lackluster first half performance from the Premier County on the way to a 0-9 to 0-4 halfway score.
Tadgh Healy pointed from a clever pass from NJK weekender and Tipperary native John Devane to open the scoring. After Collins added a second combo point from a free, Trevor Fletcher responded with a two Tipp points from frees.
Kevin Kennedy forced two good saves from Ronan Sheedy in the combo goal and Tipperary were dealt another blow when lively midfielder David Loughnane left the match with a head injury. A succession of NJK points brought only wides in reply from Tipp as the usually dependable Fletcher was struggling with his frees.
Wingback Robert Conlon, with Devane and Healy, was providing a lift for the Jersey Cats as part of a very productive halfback line. Two late points from Martin Finn kept Tipperary in touch but Finn curiously went for goal on a free with the last puck of the half, only to drive wide.
Tipperary played better in the second half. Fletcher lost his helmet, and located the goal posts and Tipp got a big boost from the introduction of long serving Mike Kennedy, who chipped in with three great points. Tipperary equalized off an outstanding point from Mark O’Leary after ten minutes.
New Jersey seemed to be feeling the pressure when Collins shot for goal on a free and was stopped. Cathal McKeever pushed NJK back in front as the sides went point for point. A Fletcher free leveled things at 0-14 each when Collins took charge.
Three straight points from Collins, who moved to corner forward after the break from his center forward spot, were the prelude to a brilliant and decisive goal.
Garreth “Magic” Johnson, the big Down forward who broke New York’s heart two years ago, fielded Sheedy’s puck out and fed Collins on the edge of the square. Collins kept it simple. Catch, turn, shoot, goal.
With just six minutes left, Tipperary were in trouble, but they never gave in. A tremendous run from O’Leary set up Kevin Kennedy for an easy tap in goal. Mike Kennedy’s third point brought Tipp within 0-2, 1-17 to 1-15, with time short.
Tipperary needed a goal but a key interception by Devane derailed a last Tipperary attack and New Jersey/Kilkenny were heading to the finals against defending champion Connecticut State.
Man of the Match: Eamon Collins.
New Jersey/Kilkenny: Ronan Sheedy, Tom Giltenane, Matt Fitzgerald, Tadgh Healy (0-1), John Devane (0-3, 1 fr), Robert Conlan (0-1), Declan Hogan, Cathal McKeever (0-1), Kevin Corbett, Eamon Collins (1-6, 2 fr), Denis McCarthy (0-1), Garreth Johnson (0-2), Nick Kenny (0-2).
Tipperary: Tomas O’Meara, Seamus Burke, Tomas Keane, Diarmuid Fitzgerald, Tom Moylan, Alan Slattery, John Madden, David Loughnane, Mark O’Leary (0-1), Michael Maher, Trevor Fletcher (0-7, all fr), Kevin Kennedy (1-0), Martin Finn (0-4) Subs: Sean Sheppard, Mike Kennedy (0-3).
Referee: John Hennessey.
Connecticut survive for final
Connecticut State 4-10 Offaly 2-14
Connecticut survived a tough Offaly challenge to advance to the New York Senior Hurling Final where they will defend their title on Sunday against upstarts New Jersey/Kilkenny.
Connecticut had wanted Offaly and not the combo in this semi-final, and for long stretches it looked as though Connecticut would be victims of the clich