Second half onslaught sees Tipperary reach the promised land
Brian Cody’s Kilkenny finally dethroned as Michael Ryan’s Tipp run riot at Croke Park
The 2010 men who were to rule this hurling era finally do again.
Perhaps they will call it the John ‘Bubbles’ O’Dwyer final. Or simply, the return of Tipperary.
“Everyone doubted us at the start of the year but we proved our doubters wrong,” said an ecstatic O’Dwyer at the full-time whistle.
“We are champions of f*****g Ireland!”
Logic prevailed. The better team, the team everyone has waited to see perform at this standard for an entire season, came out and dominated Kilkenny. Everywhere.
The champions, chasing another three in a row under their great ruler Brian Cody, were battered out the gate.
History shows us it is the only way to stop them.
This game was over with plenty on the clock. There was the dying kick of Richie Hogan’s goal but Tipperary refused to be denied.
It all stemmed from the destruction of Kilkenny’s fullback line. They miss JJ and Jackie now. There was the amazing sight of O’Dwyer owning Paul Murphy and Joey Holden getting opened up then pulverised by Seamie Callanan while John McGrath had a great time coursing Shane Prendergast.
The Cats couldn’t get their claws into their old enemy.
Tipperary travellers needed to see this before they could believe.
82,016 were barely able to raise a yelp during the parade as an invisible cloak of nerves covered this ancient GAA ground.
Everyone found their voice when O’Dwyer hammered into Kilkenny granite.
Paul Murphy is generally seen as the best corner back in Ireland, certainly the strongest we have seen in an age, but Bubbles leaped over him, gathering or breaking for the Tipperary scores that Kilkenny never usually concede.
Time and again Darren Gleeson puck outs rained down on Murphy. He never once took a clean catch. He needed help. That meant Seamie Callanan found space Kilkenny never usually allow.
Still, Tipp folk could only murmur, perhaps more nervous than before, about the 0-14 to 0-12 half-time lead. It should of been so much more.
Callanan gathered five from play in the opening 35 minutes, O’Dwyer 0-4, starting with a lovely sideline cut, two gorgeous strikes and a 77 metre free.
The impact sub talk had been one big ruse.
But Kilkenny clung on and could have stealthily snatched a lead but for Colin Fennelly and Eoin Larkin shots on goal coming to nowt.
And still they held pace thanks to TJ Reid frees. Larkin and Walter Walsh also chipped in.
Further assistance came from Tipperary’s nine first half wides.
But Tipp were winning every small battle with Callanan scolding Holden at every turn and their defenders gathering most loose change.
There seemed no doubt about the result, right up until Kilkenny’s first goal.
From Wally Walsh’s long carry, Kevin Kelly profited off Liam Blanchfield’s shot across the square; the two young corner forwards coming from nowhere to deliver when Kilkenny’s need seemed most desperate. But only them.
Michael Ryan reacted by pulling off Michael Breen. Jason Forde arrived and pointed. Callanan continued to make Holden, the current All Star No. 3, look an ordinary hurler.
Then came that never to be forgotten Bubbles moment. Tipp had not been able to put him into a straight dance with Murphy. When they finally did O’Dwyer brushed past him to goal spectacularly. Murphy stood, head bowed, and cursed himself.
What could Cody do? Remove his best defender? Holden and Prendergast had their own nightmares to figure out.
O’Dwyer almost had a second goal within seconds. A touch from the gods kept the sliotar in play and left Murphy trailing in his wake but Eoin Murphy made a fine save.
There was no doubting the superior force on show now.
1-7 without reply saw Tipperary streak into a 1-22 to 1-14 lead.
Callanan was crucifying Holden. Kilkenny had to be satisfied with a Padraig Walsh point, when a goal seemed certain, but Callanan struck back instantly.
John McGrath also came to life in the other corner.
Six point game 10 minutes to play and what do Tipperary go and do?
They wipe Kilkenny off the field. The McGrath brothers ensured a crazed joy could be unleashed by this savage audience. Noel to John - goal.
Of course, in the blink of an eye, Kilkenny got a second goal from the otherwise subdued Richie Hogan.
But this day belongs forever to John ‘Bubbles’ O’Dwyer. A great point with eight minutes to play rebuilt the seven point lead.
That was it really. Except for the teary smile of Michael Ryan at the end. Special. Priceless.
Tipperary: Darren Gleeson; Cathal Barrett, James Barry, Michael Cahill; Séamus Kennedy (0-1), Ronan Maher, Pádraic Maher (0-1); Brendan Maher, Michael Breen; Dan McCormack (0-1), Patrick Maher (0-2), Noel McGrath (0-1); John O’Dwyer (1-5, 0-1 free, 0-1 sideline), Séamus Callanan (0-13, 0-4 frees, 0-1 65), John McGrath (1-3). Subs: Jason Forde (0-2) for Breen, 45 mins; Niall O’Meara for Dan McCormack, 62 mins; Donagh Maher for Cahill, 65 mins; Kieran Bergin for Noel McGrath, 70 mins; Tomás Hamill for Kennedy, 73 mins.
Kilkenny: Eoin Murphy; Paul Murphy, Joey Holden, Shane Prendergast; Pádraig Walsh (0-2), Kieran Joyce, Cillian Buckley (0-1); TJ Reid (0-11, 0-10 frees, 0-1 65), Conor Fogarty; Walter Walsh (0-1), Richie Hogan (1-1), Eoin Larkin (0-2); Kevin Kelly (1-2, 0-1 sideline), Colin Fennelly, Liam Blanchfield. Subs: Lester Ryan for Larkin, 61 mins; Robert Lennon for Joyce, 61 mins.
Referee: Brian Gavin (Offaly).