All-Ireland SHC final: Kilkenny player ratings
Ian O’Riordan evaluates the performances of the losing Kilkenny team at Croke Park
Kilkenny manager Brian Cody looks on during the cup presentation after his side were beaten by Tipperary in the All-Ireland Senior Hurling Championship final. Photo: Cathal Noonan/Inpho
Eoin Murphy: 7
A reported injury worry, only to save Kilkenny from even bigger worries in the second half, as futile as that ultimately proved. Hopelessly stretched for John O’Dwyer’s goal, made two brilliant blocks afterwards to keep some hopes alive; a mostly solid last line of an otherwise plundered defence.
Paul Murphy: 4
Pulled and bossed repeatedly out of position by John O’Dwyer, never once looking comfortable or confident, also conceding two first-half points to Tipp in the onslaught of turnovers. Left on his heels - and without a hurl - for O’Dwyer’s goal in the second half, by then a broke-down version of his previous best.
Joey Holden: 5
They said could be vulnerable on Seamus Callanan and so it proved, losing the very first tussle and caught repeatedly for pace and position thereafter. Desperate for some stability in the second half, instead left dizzied and disorientated by the end, crushed under the crescendo of Tipp’s full forward line.
Shane Prendergast: 4
Shaky from the start and left looking legless and helpless by the end, the 2-15 from play from Tipp’s full forward line (2-21 in all) a stark reflection of all that. When isolated with Holden, taken on a run around by John McGrath, and punished accordingly.
Padraig Walsh: 7
His two points from play a mere in nibble in the famine of scoring in the second half, and like those around him, repeatedly turned over, or else guilty of over-carrying; lost too many of the 50-50 balls for the simple reason his eye was off the ball.
Kieran Joyce: 5
Lost in the midtown traffic that saw the Kilkenny defence cut off at every corner, and in a complete reversal of the 2014 final replay, when Joyce blocked out Bonner Maher, he was the one blocked out. Called ashore on the hour and lucky to have lasted that long.
Cillian Buckley: 6
Normally so dependable but anything but here, most tellingly when beaten to the pick-up by Noel McGrath, who subsequently set up his brother John for Tipp’s second goal, a defining moment if there ever was one. His one point from distance a lonely star in an otherwise empty sky.
TJ Reid: 6
Needed to get more involved from play yet so rarely did, his 0-11 all coming from placed balls (including one 65), and as accurate as they were, his presence disintegrated with the countdown of the clock. Again, like all those around him, beaten by the greater intensity of Tipp.
Conor Fogarty: 4
By-passed the game as much as the game by-passed him, and yes, showed up the absence of the injured Michael Fennelly with sadly prophetic precision. Lost under the long puck-outs too of Darren Gleeson, exposing the most vulnerable area of Kilkenny with increasingly heavy cost.
Walter Walsh: 6
Started well and briefly shifted wings too, his one powerful point early on turning out to be the exception than the rule. Did front up to the Tipp defence when helping to set up Kevin Kelly’s goal in the second half, only that too came against the grain of scores, his game ending in total anonymity.
Richie Hogan: 7
Try as he did to drift in and out of the lines struggled to find the necessary support, and with that found himself closed down by Tipp with increasing vengeance. Even when freed of Ronan Maher, rarely in a position to do proper damage, his goal towards the end being the exception, and of course being too late.
Eoin Larkin: 5
Came in search of a ninth All-Ireland medal, and ended up being replaced on the hour, the game long gone from him. Well positioned for Kilkenny’s second goal chance, in the first half, but sent that wide, and even with two points from player, an older and slower shadow of his former self.
Kevin Kelly: 7
Might well have had a hat-trick of goals had this game been played on Kilkenny terms, but instead had to make do with one, neatly handed to him by fellow All-Ireand debutant Liam Blanchfield. Kept his head in the game while those around him well away and certainly one for the future.
Colin Fennelly: 5
Once again comes away wondering what if, handed the first real goal chance of the game, but couldn’t convert, and everything after that went from bad to worse. Held scoreless, and frequently held up in possession, possibly his worst day in a Kilkenny jersey on the big day.
Liam Blanchfield: 5
For an All-Ireland debutant with great expectations it soon fell all so quiet, starved of possession and any chance to repeat his stellar semi-final. Did set up Kelly’s goal with impressive calmness, but nothing after that fell his way and the 0-0 after his name his proof of that.
Robert Lennon for Joyce, Lester Ryan for Larkin (both 60 mins): an indication and indictment of the limitations of the Kilkenny bench, in that so little changed by their introduction. Kilkenny’s real trouble in the full back line already exposed as irreparable.