Kilkenny dump Tipperary out of championship at Nowlan Park

Eoin Larkin’s 11 points help keep hopes alive for defending All-Ireland champions


Kilkenny 0-20 Tipperary 1-14: The King lives and so do Kilkenny. A victory of this magnitude on a beautiful summer’s evening on their own training pitch has the potential to drive them all the way to September.

But Tipperary, despite a valiant display in this unique July qualifier meeting at Nowlan Park, are done for 2013.

An inability of their forwards to win enough ball, the loss of a sparkling Lar Corbett after just 28 minutes and Eoin Kelly’s uncharacteristic inaccuracy all combined to be them come up short.

It will hurt the Premier County deeply; they will never have a better chance to rid the championship of Kilkenny at such an early stage.

Henry Shefflin returned with six minutes to go, having only hurled last Monday for the first time since September, and against his surgeon’s orders.

“He wanted to wait for another few weeks,” he said afterwards.

By that stage man of the match Eoin Larkin, who finished with 0-11 including one beauty from play and getting through so much dirty work, allied by the sturdiness of the greatest defenders hurling has ever seen had already put Eamon O’Shea’s Tipperary on the back foot.

One particularly heroic goal-line block by JJ Delaney of Kelly’s point-blank range shot, early in the second-half, sunk the travelling supporters in the 22,307 full house into their seats.

Kelly put the resulting ’65 wide. Kilkenny never looked back with Walter Walsh and Richie Power landing vital points.

It started so well for Tipp with Corbett looking like the man who won hurler of the year in 2010, stealing a goal on 14 minutes after a miscue by John O’Dwyer found its way to him.

That seemed to be the catalyst for a famous Tipperary victory on enemy soil. It wasn’t. Corbett was gone from the field in the 29th minute, his right hamstring snapping apart as he sprinted out in front of Kieran Joyce.

Séamus Callanan came in and hurled well, contributing two points, but the loss of Corbett was incalculable.

Kilkenny also lost TJ Reid to injury but the surprising return of All Star corner back Paul Murphy was a huge boost. Murphy’s outstanding display was even more astonishing considering he was carted off the field in Portlaoise just two weeks ago with a suspected broken ankle.

Some hard man, his excellence seemed to inspire the more established champions in Kilkenny’s defence. When it really mattered Delaney, Brian Hogan, Tommy Walsh and most of all Jackie Tyrrell devoured the dropping ball.

The end was a little tetchy as Tipperary defender Kieran Bergin became the latest to do a Lazarus impression, from a broken hand, pitched a tent in the half forwards and, along with James Woodlock, almost inspired a revival.

Notably, Noel McGrath dropped deep to pick up Shefflin but the current hurler of the year, looking lean but so obviously short of match fitness, still managed to influence proceedings with a subtle lay off for Power to make it 0-19 to 1-13 entering injury time.

That was enough to prompt Tipperary folk to go in search of their cars.

“The battle was fierce,” said Cody. “Our form wasn’t good coming into to it but we were in our own place and the consequences for losing were absolutely powerful for both teams. We are still alive and have a qualifier match next week.

“They are men.”

That they are and these men face Waterford next Saturday night, a fourth game in as many weeks, in yet another do or die scenario.

But they are growing stronger; Shefflin could well play 20 minutes next week, Mick Fennelly is also close to a return and many of the weaknesses exposed by Dublin have already been addressed.

The championship just got very familiar. They are undoubtedly back. All of them.

In today’s other phase two qualifier, Clare proved far too strong for Laois at Cusack Park in Ennis, running out 1-32 to 0-15 winners.

Seven unanswered points from the home side set up a commanding 0-13 to 0-4 lead for Davy Fitzgerald’s side and they kept that advantage at the break (0-17 to 0-8) before pushing further ahead in the second half on the way to a 20-point victory.

Kilkenny: 1 E Murphy; 27 P Murphy, 3 JJ Delaney, 4 J Tyrrell; 5 T Walsh, 6 B Hogan, 7 K Joyce; 12 E Larkin (0-11, 10 frees), 9 L Ryan; 21 M Ruth, 11 R Power (0-2), 13 C Fennelly (0-1); 14 R Hogan (0-3), 10 W Walsh (0-3), 20 TJ Reid. Substitutions: 22 G Aylward for TJ Reid (20 mins), 15 A Fogarty for G Aylward (52 mins), 28 H Shefflin for M Ruth (64 mins).

Tipperary: 1 B Cummins; 5 C O’Brien, 2 P Stapleton, 4 M Cahill; 8 B Maher, 6 C O’Mahony, 7 Pádraic Maher; 26 J Woodlock (0-1), 9 S McGrath; 10 Patrick Maher, 11 N McGrath (0-1), 12 J O’Brien (0-1); 13 J O’Dwyer (0-3), 14 E Kelly (0-5, fours frees and a 65), 15 L Corbett (1-0). Substitutions: 18 S Callanan (0-2) for L Corbett (24 mins, inj), 3 K Bergin (0-1) for 19 J Forde for Patrick Maher (51 mins), 24 G Ryan for J O’Brien (53 mins), 23 B O’Meara for E Kelly (63 mins).

Referee: B Gavin (Offaly)

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