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Cats back where they belong

The Kilkenny hurling goalkeeper, Eoin Murphy. Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Kilkenny won their first league title since 2014 after a stunning second-half display to defeat their great rivals Tipperary and set them up nicely to regain their All Ireland Championship Hurling crown this summer.

In truth, Tipperary were the better team in the first half, but they simply couldn’t match Kilkenny’s pace and intensity after the break. Kilkenny have now won 18 Allianz League titles and are now only one behind Tipperary in the roll of honour.

The cats started the league slowly with back to back defeats before winning every match since, showing great character, despite only scraping past Offaly in the quarter-finals. They certainly saved their best for last and it was a joy to watch the black and amber roar back to their brilliant best. Walter Walsh scored a goal just after half-time giving the cats a major boost.

It was pretty much one-way traffic after that Walsh goal which levelled the game at 1-12 apiece but from there Kilkenny were on the front foot. Kilkenny outscored Tipperary by six points to one over the next seven scores with John Donnelly’s point at the 39th minute mark the best of the lot. Kilkenny started to open up then with two more points from Liam Blanchfield and TJ Reid leaving the score at 1-21 to 1-14.

TJ Reid claimed the man of the match award but there were a whole host of Kilkenny players deserving of that prize including corner-back Paddy Deegan, James Maher, Cillian Buckley as well as substitutes Luke Scanlon, Conor Fogarty and Liam Blanchfield.

Fogarty put the icing on the cake for the Leinster men with a goal in the 63rd minute to dent any slim hopes of a Tipperary comeback. The Kilkenny supporters in the 17,608-strong crowd went wild, and rightly so. It’s where they belong and the summer is now looking bright for the cats, but Tipperary can take positives from the match after a solid first-half display. No doubt we will be hearing a lot more of these two teams in June, July and August.

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