The Book of Hurling has no end. Its most recent decade of Septembers has been defined by the bitter-keen ceaseless rivalry that has for a century defined the winter and summer talk between the neighbouring counties of Tipperary and Kilkenny.
On a heavenly Sunday afternoon in Croke Park, Tipp finally bettered the most brilliant force of modern times with a performance that merged sublime artistry with the spices from their own hell's kitchen.
They hurled their way to their 27th All-Ireland title – easily among their sweetest – through a fire of intent which Brian Cody and all of Kilkenny will well recognise. It was, after all, a furnace of their making.
An absorbing All-Ireland final finished 2-29 to 2-20, ending Kilkenny’s bid to bring the Liam MacCarthy Cup back to the Marble City for a third year in succession.
"Yeah they hurt. Mother of God, they did hurt," said Tipperary's manager, Michael Ryan, recalling the September heartbreaks Kilkenny has inflicted on his classy Tipperary team.
“But you move on. You can’t live your life looking over your shoulder. Today was a brand new day.”
In truth, it felt like that too. If there was trepidation in the balmy afternoon among the Tipp fans, it was understandable. They were in a treacherous place: fancied to win against one of the most phenomenal forces any sport has seen. And Kilkenny settled into this final the way your grandfather settles into his armchair.
Crease and crevice
They know every crease and crevice of this day and matched Tipp score for score for the first half-hour. Then, on 44 minutes, the Cats concocted a goal that was as scarily familiar as it was unexpected: a tap-in from
, one of the Kilkenny new kids.
Suddenly, Cody’s team were up 1-14 to 0-15. And this, now, was Tipperary’s time to gaze into themselves. Rise or melt. What followed was an irresistible spell of play. Tipp outscored their tormentors by 1-8 to 0-2.
The hardest win came in a dazzling rush at the end, framed by the bewitching play of John "Bubbles" O'Dwyer, Noel McGrath and Séamus Callanan, the big Thurles man who shot nine points from play.
Cody has been a vivid conductor on so many wild Septembers, but he could only stand with arms folded as Tipp galloped to liberation. Tipp’s year. The page turns – blue and gold.