Kilkenny’s minor resurgence continues to see off Tipperary
After being beaten and conceding six goals to Dublin in June they are now in the final
Kilkenny’s Cian Kelly celebrates at the final whistle of their All-Ireland MHC semi-final win over Tipperary. Photo: Tommy Dickson
Kilkenny 1-15 Tipperary 2-10
Richie Mulrooney reckons it’ll go down as the summer that his young Kilkenny players morphed from boys to man.
Beaten by Dublin back in June in the Leinster final, when they conceded six goals, the courageous young Cats have somehow turned it around to qualify for the All-Ireland final.
Jamie Harkin claimed the Man of the Match award this time as Kilkenny held off a determined Tipperary side throughout the second-half.
But it was all about the power of the collective as Kilkenny saw a six-point half-time lead reduced to two late on and held firm to secure their place in the August 19th final.
They will play Galway in that decider at Croke Park in what will be their 10th game of a marathon minor campaign.
“It’s amazing that we’ve now played nine games,” said Mulrooney. “I was last in charge of the minors from 2008 to 2010 and over the three years – and we got to the All-Ireland final in all three years, and won two of them – we played 16 games. So that’s how much things have changed.
“I predicted after our first game of the summer that there would be a lot of eyebrows raised at some of the scorelines that would occur as the weeks went by because they’re 17 years of age and inconsistency is going to be part and parcel of it.
“So to be coming back to Croke Park for our 10th game, well, I’ll tell you one thing – the boys will look back on this year as the year they really started their Kilkenny careers. To get 10 matches together, where each one of them is so important, is absolutely fantastic.”
A restructuring of the minor grade, allied to that defeat to Dublin in the Leinster final, forced them to take the long road.
Mulrooney reckons it might have been a ‘blessing in disguise’ as they learned vital lessons along the way, a journey that included a seven-point quarter-final group stage defeat to Galway.
They brought all that experience to bear here and kept their noses narrowly in front virtually throughout.
Aside from wing-back Harkin, Jack Morrissey and goalscorer Ciaran Brennan impressed in attack.
Munster champions Tipp might rue the decision not to start Mikey O’Shea because he turned the game when introduced, scoring 2-1.
Tipp trailed 1-7 to 0-4 at half-time after conceding 1-3 without reply in the run up to the break.
But O’Shea sniped his first goal in the 43rd minute after a clever pull back from James Devaney.
He added a point and then shortened the hurl for a clever second goal in the 56th minute to leave just two in it.
Kilkenny never panicked throughout the Tipp revival and picked off vital points to keep daylight between the sides.
And scores from the excellent Morrissey and sub Eoin Guilfoyle were the perfect response to that second O’Shea goal.
That left four in it again and gave Kilkenny a vital cushion as Tipp clawed back two late points through Jack Lanigan and Devon Ryan.
KILKENNY: J Brennan; P Dempsey, J Young, D Crehan; D Maher, S Staunton, J Harkin; C Kelly (0-1, 1f), C Kenny; C Brennan (1-2), J Buggy (0-4, 2f), G Murphy; C O’Leary (0-1), J Morrissey (0-4), D Coogan (0-1).
Subs: K Hogan (0-1) for O’Leary 41, P Moylan for Coogan 48, E Guilfoyle (0-1) for Moylan 52.
TIPPERARY: A Browne; K Hayes, C Whelan (0-2, 2f), C O’Dwyer; J Ryan, S Phelan, F Hanafin; M Hackett, J Campion; C O’Farrell, R Renehan, K O’Kelly; D Ryan (0-3, 1f), S Hayes (0-1), J Devaney (0-1).
Subs: J Morrissey (0-1) for Hackett 25, M O’Shea (2-1) for Renehan 28, K Maher for Campion 46, J Lanigan (0-1) for Devaney 48, K Ryan for J Ryan 56.
Referee: R. McGann (Clare).