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Tipp hold out against determined Kilkenny

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

By Mike Fitzpatrick

Last year’s senior hurling finalists, Kilkenny and Tipperary came head to head in this senior clash at Gaelic Park with both sides expecting victory. Kilkenny had already administered a six point victory upon Tipperary two weeks ago and had hoped to give the reigning champions another beating on Sunday. It was not to be.

Cheered on by strong support in the Gaelic Park stands and a highly loyal fan in GAA volunteer nurse, Therese Crowe, Tipperary were buoyed on to victory over a strong Kilkenny side in this highly competitive fixture.

Both sides scored early goals, Tipperary scoring two in the opening stages courtesy of Pat Croke and an effort by Eugene O’Neill which was scrambled over the line having passed through an unsuspecting Kilkenny defense.

Kilkenny replied through Richie Hogan’s goal and two points by the excellent Mick O’Connell. The game proceeded at a lightening-like pace with both sides rampaging forward in search of match-winning points. Tipperary’s John Madden snuck in to grab a point for his side only for Kilkenny to step up a few gears firing points home courtesy of O’Connell again, Brian Barcoe and Derry Mick Collins to give the ‘cats’ a slight lead.

Continuing at an explosive pace, the tie almost resembled a tennis match at one stage with the ball flying from one end of the field to the other, such was the frightening level of attacking ferocity both sides performed to. O’Neill struck again to reply for Tipp levelling his side, but within seconds, some great interplay between Brian Barcoe and Derek Barrett resulted in two more points to edge the cats ahead.

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Tipp began to barrage the Kilkenny goal and Croke clinched a point for his side which was followed by a converted goal-bound penalty for O’Neill to put his side back in the hunt. O’Neill followed this up with an amazing shimmy through the Kilkenny backline scoring a point and it began to look as if Kilkenny may be in trouble. Some inaccurate shooting from Kilkenny could have brought them right back were it on target, until substitute Kilkenny’s Mick Collins snapped in another point for his side. Some fine wing play from Gary Mernagh edged Tipp further ahead when his pass to John Madden resulted in another point to give his side a three point advantage.

Kilkenny fought back desperately, with Richie Hogan coming close to an equalizer but what stood out in the closing minutes was the look of sheer determination on the face of Kilkenny’s Mark Kennedy, who, having lost his hurl proceeded to sprint upfield dribbling the ball soccer-style in a desperate last gasp attempt at salvaging something from the game. Kennedy and his attack-minded teammates brought the crowd to their feet with an enthralling performance against a formidable Tipperary side, which must surely fancy their chances in the final on Oct. 25 versus Limerick.

Tipperary: Ray Duggan, Donal Cummins, Gary Mernagh, Jim Lyons, Owen Cummins, Jimmy Darcy, Michael Kennedy, John Madden (0-2), Seamus Collison, Shane Ryan, Pat Croke (1-1), Eugene O’Neill (2-5). Subs: Tony O’Brien, Dave Lonergan.

Kilkenny: James Joyce, Kieran Gaughan, John Nolan, Vinnie Norton, Derek Barrett (0-1), Peter Breen, Kevin Corbett, Luke Doyle, Mick O’Connell (0-6), Jerome Edge, Richie Hogan (1-0), Brian Barcoe (0-2), Mike Collins (Derry) (0-1). Subs: Mark Kennedy, Kilkenny Mick Collins (0-1), Seamus Carey.

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