Everyone a winner as Hawk-Eye intervenes

Outcome of gripping final decided by inches

Kilkenny and Tipperary fans on edge at Croke Park yesterday. Photograph: Alan Betson

Seventy minutes gone in Croke Park and the ball falling out of a perfect September sky and Kilkenny and Tipperary are deadlocked 3-22 to 1-28 and yet again the old game has thrilled the country silly. A full house watched the perpetual rivals produce a total of 54 brilliant scores yesterday.

Traditional colours and familiar counties, yes, but somehow they managed to concoct an entirely fresh All-Ireland final of operatic scale and drama and an outcome decided by inches. Tipperary, after staging a perfect late run of three points, were awarded a free some 90 metres out which John “Bubbles” O’Dwyer, the nerveless young Killenaule sharp-shooter, sent whistling through the still afternoon. He was celebrating even before the ball reached the Kilkenny posts.

"I thought he had a chance! Bubbles always had a chance," smiled Eamonn O'Shea, the Tipperary manager, when asked to recollect his thoughts in those seconds. Down the line, Brian Cody, a veteran of these September afternoons of illogical brilliance, was composing a similar view. "I kind of thought he would score it because he is very good at those."

The point looked good and the Premier supporters cleared throats for a rendition of Sliabh na mBan. But this is a new time, a sharp time. Referee Barry Kelly signalled for the intervention of Hawk-Eye, the electronic score detection system.


The entire stadium watched the big screens as technology had the final say, the replayed arc of the ball retraced in game-show style and declaring a miss! Bubbles smiled and shook his head.

The Cats, winners of nine All-Irelands in the Cody era, had used a life here. Seconds later came the whistle. After no drawn final since 1959, hurling has produced three drawn All-Irelands in a row. Champagne de-iced, banquets cancelled, celebrations postponed. “We are heading home. That’s for sure,” said Brian Cody, who must plan anew for a 10th All-Ireland.

“The radar on both sets of players . . . it was just one of those days when it seemed almost un-miss-able from both sides,”said O’Shea.