Allianz NHL Division 1 – Tipperary 1-14 Kilkenny 0-13

Tipperary defeated Kilkenny by 1-14 to 0-13 in Round 1 of the Allianz National Hurling League Division 1 on Sunday March 7th in Semple Stadium Thurles.


Allianz National Hurling League – Division 1

Tipperary 1-14 Kilkenny 0-13

By Cathal Ryan

It was a case of third time lucky on Sunday afternoon when a crowd of 20,254 flocked to the hurling Mecca of Semple Stadium, Thurles to see a repeat of last year’s epic All Ireland and National Hurling League Finals between Tipperary and Kilkenny. A fresh easterly breeze was cancelled by the spring sun and with the Thurles venue in its usual perfect condition everything was set up for an early season blockbuster between these two great rivals. It was deep into first half stoppage time when the Premier County struck the crucial blow through talismanic corner forward Eoin Kelly. Noel McGrath brought down a long ball to the deck before rising and stepping inside the defender then laying off a pass to Kelly who swivelled and creased the sliotar past PJ Ryan in the Kilkenny goal. This was preceded moments earlier by a squandered opportunity to net for the Cats when Aidan Fogarty slipped for the only time in the match behind the Tipperary cover but his strike just rebounded off Brendan Cummins and was cleared to safety.

Tipperary maintained the advantage throughout the second half and in the closing stages a great catch from Hugh Maloney was laid off to fellow substitute Jody Brennan who raised the white flag with a right handed strike.
Tipperary will be delighted to bounce back from last week’s disappointment against Dublin and especially against the team that denied them of the success they craved last season. Liam Sheedy can be particularly pleased with the display of the full back line where Padraic Maher in particular was immense and beat any opponent that crossed his path. In contrast Kilkenny will note areas that need improvement but particularly in the number of wides they hit. It was most un-Kilkenny like to see that eleven wides were struck against just five for their opponents from a usually extremely efficient scoring machine.

The game started slowly and after a number of line balls it was Eoin Kelly who broke the deadlock with a free in the third minute. The Mullinahone man added a second free moments later but this was soon followed by a three point Kilkenny haul that saw them take the lead through a Richie Hogan free and points from Michael Rice and John Tennyson.  It took 17 minutes before the men in blue in gold finally scored a point from play and it came from a John O Brien strike that was drove from all of 60 yards. Two further Hogan frees were dropped over the bar and Shane McGrath responded to draw Tipp level.
Then in the 29th minute Fogarty was presented with his goal scoring opportunity only to miss. The Kilkenny disappointment was then compounded in stoppage time when Kelly found the back of the net to leave the half time score at 1-6 to 0-6.

The second period began much brighter with the Cats racking up two scores in a minute from the impressive John Mulhall and James Stephens man Eoin Larkin. Just a minute later Lar Corbett latched onto a ball and burst through the heart of the Kilkenny defence before firing over the bar when it seemed he had goal on his mind. Both sides traded scores but the Premier never relinquished the lead and the unusually ineffective Kilkenny forward line never managed to carve any real goal threat until substitute Michael Grace got blocked courageously by the outstanding Paul Curran with only two minutes remaining.  This along with an altercation between the two managers on the sideline lifted the crowd and Tipperary responded with the Brennan point and another from Noel McGrath to seal a four point victory and banish some of the demons of last year for this Tipperary outfit.

Teams:
Tipperary: Brendan Cummins; Brendan Maher, Padraic Maher, Paul Curran; Declan Fanning, Conor O Mahony, Shane Maher; Thomas Stapleton, Shane McGrath (0-2); Noel McGrath (0-1), Benny Dunne, John O Brien (0-1); Eoin Kelly (1-7,6F), Michael Webster, Lar Corbett (0-2). Subs: Hugh Maloney for B. Dunne (43), Jody Brennan for T. Stapleton (51), Seamus Callanan for J. O Brien (58), Paul Kelly for M. Webster (65).

Kilkenny: PJ Ryan; Canice Hickey, Brian Hogan, John Dalton; Tommy Walsh (0-1), Jackie Tyrrell (0-1), JJ Delaney; John Tennyson (0-2), PJ Delaney (0-1); John Mulhall (0-3), Michael Rice (0-1), Willie O Dwyer; Richie Hogan (0-3, 3F), Eoin Larkin (0-1), Aidan Fogarty. Subs: Michael Grace for M. Rice (44), Paddy Hogan for R. Hogan (60).

Referee: Barry Kelly (Westmeath)


Sweet revenge for Tipp

Mar 07, 2010

From the GAA.ie web site

Tipperary gained a measure of revenge for last year’s All-Ireland final defeat to Kilkenny with a 1-14 to 0-13 win over the Cats in a refixed Allianz GAA Hurling National League Division One clash at sun drenched Thurles on Sunday. Over 20,000 patrons, who were given free entry to Semple Stadium after the game had been twice postponed due to the weather, were treated to a thrilling encounter which had all the intensity of a Championship clash.

The only goal of the game came from the stick of the Kilkenny captain, Eoin Kelly, who found the back of the net in first-half injury time. The Mullinahone man took the goal brilliantly after a quick pass from team-mate Noel McGrath. However, Kilkenny could have goaled themselves seconds earlier, when Aidan Fogarty broke clear of the Tipperary defence, but Brendan Cummins, the Premier County goalkeeper, advanced off his line and blocked the shot.


Battle lines drawn as Tipp take first blood

Tipperary 1-14 Kilkenny 0-13

By Diarmuid O’Flynn for the Irish Examiner newspaper

Monday, March 08, 2010

ONLY the league? Yes it was only the league, but there were so many subplots to this game yesterday in Semple Stadium. A couple of weeks ago, it was to have been the glamour NHL opener, under lights in Thurles, but twice it had been postponed due to bad weather. In the meantime, however, Tipperary lost heavily to Dublin, meaning that this game took on a new significance for the hosts. Where before it was going to be a novelty, a Saturday evening floodlit repeat of the cracking 2009 league and All-Ireland finals, now it became an early opportunity for Kilkenny to do what this team has done so many times over the last few all-conquering years to so many other teams in the league, and lay down yet another marker.

Kilkenny themselves were weakened by the absence of over half a dozen starters from last September, but all the better for that – beat Tipp now, a full-strength but wounded Tipp, in their own house, and the cute Cats wouldn’t just be vastly reducing the league play-off chances of their closest rivals, it could also have longer-term repercussions. None of this was lost on the hurling public which explains why, even on a chilly March 7, there was a real championship feel to Thurles yesterday. Sun shining, clear skies, fast pitch, a loud and fully committed crowd of 20,254, the two top teams of 2009 faced off.

It wasn’t just the teams getting stuck into each other either. Liam Sheedy is always an animated figure during a game so it was no surprise to see the Tipp manager up and down the sideline yesterday urging on his charges, swapping banter with the officials. Brian Cody, however, usually maintains his reserve until the championship, and even then, only gets really involved in the bigger games. But yesterday he too was animated from early on, remonstrating with referee Barry Kelly from Westmeath, cajoling the men in stripes; then, near the end of the match with Tipperary just two points ahead, a shemozzle near the sideline involving several players developed into something more as Cody and Sheedy too became very much up close and personal. It was a confrontation that ended with the Tipp manager giving his opposite number a push to the chest. “When the match is close like that, it’s high tempo stuff,” said Sheedy.

“We’re managers – maybe they (the players) watch our body language, but for us, it’s Tipp and Kilkenny, the second round of the league. If we lost today it probably finished our involvement in the league. It was important to get the two points, get back on the road. In a lot of ways it was backs to the wall.” For Cody, however, the sideline battle was a lot more than just a minor momentary confrontation – “It was a battle for anyone out there, it was a flat-out game and huge commitment from both teams.” Spot on, Brian. From the first minute it was obvious that this was a different Tipp team to that which suffered so badly in Parnell Park last week. Two early pointed frees from the on-song Eoin Kelly saw them into an early lead and from there to the break it was toe-to-toe, two heavyweights laying into each other. Six points apiece it was into injury-time, when Eoin Kelly landed the only real body-blow of the match, and a sucker punch it was. A pass from John O’Brien gave the Tipp captain possession just inside the 20m line, several defenders inside him, but a swivel, a thunderbolt shot, and Tipperary had a one-goal lead.

All through a hotly-contested second half, that goal stood between them, and it was still there at the death, when young Noel McGrath notched the insurance point. Defences dominated, true, both sextets doing well, Padraic Maher (Tipp) and Jackie Tyrell (Kilkenny) the main men on either side, but this was nevertheless a vastly entertaining contest for all that. Game of the league so far, without question, certainly one worth waiting for.

Scorers for Tipperary: E. Kelly 1-7 (0-6 frees); S. McGrath 0-2; L. Corbett 0-2; N. McGrath, J. O’Brien, J. Brennan, 0-1 each.

Scorers for Kilkenny: J. Tennyson 0-3; J. Mulhall 0-3; R. Hogan 0-3 (frees); E. Larkin, M. Rice, T. Walsh, J. Tyrell, 0-1 each.

Subs for Tipperary: H. Moloney (Dunne 43); J. Brennan (T. Stapleton 53); S. Callanan (O’Brien 59); P. Kelly (Webster 66).

Subs for Kilkenny: M. Grace (Rice inj. 46); P. Hogan (R. Hogan inj. 61).

Referee: Barry Kelly (Westmeath).

Kelly’s magic moment sees off Cats

From the Irish Independent newspaper

Monday March 08 2010

They swung the doors of Semple Stadium open under a flamed-up sky yesterday and the low-watt glow of early season gave way to blinding light. Maybe the best free show that sport has ever summoned saw Tipperary edging a game of authentic heat that sent the 20,254 attendance home, hungrily recycling the detail. It was, as Brian Cody later averred, “Championship-like stuff” that even drew the opposing managers into a sideline quarrel. With the game slipping into injury-time, some Tipp players reacted angrily to what looked a late pull by JJ Delaney on prostrate substitute Jody Brennan. In the tussle that followed, Liam Sheedy exchanged angry words with Cody before appearing to push the Kilkenny manager in the chest.

To be fair to Sheedy, he immediately sought Cody out at the final whistle and they seemed to have a conciliatory exchange. And neither manager, predictably, was much interested in exploring the incident thereafter. “Look, when the match is close like that, it’s high-tempo stuff,” said Sheedy, wariness travelling across his eyes. Cody adopted the same, impassive tone, declaring simply: “No, no, there was no battle on the sideline. Look, for anyone out there at all, it’s a battle. “T’was a flat-out game, huge commitment from both teams. You know in early March? T’was decent stuff.” It was too, the game essentially decided by a moment of utter brilliance from Tipp wizard Eoin Kelly on the stroke of half-time. Noel McGrath’s meandering left-wing run carried little obvious threat, until he hand-passed inside to the Mullinahone man.

You had to suspect not a single mind in the stadium was tuned to his wavelength as Kelly swivelled and struck the most breathtaking 20-metre finish. Certainly not PJ Ryan’s. The goalkeeper, who almost single-handedly kept Tipperary at bay in last year’s All-Ireland final, might as well have been trying to stop a sniper’s bullet. Kelly’s goal separated the teams at half-time, marginally flattering a Tipp team that had failed to get any discernible input from its half-forwards. This is an old ailment in the team that, at times yesterday, drew deep groans from their supporters.

Tommy Walsh, Jackie Tyrrell and JJ Delaney were imperious all day under high deliveries and maybe too many Tipp clearances lacked a message. But the sight of Kilkenny backs soaring for uncontested balls will require some explaining from the Tipp half-forwards. In their primary role of defence, the Tipp backs didn’t concede an inch, Paudie Maher maybe the pick of them in a full-back display that was a virtual nirvana of power and concentration. Kilkenny rarely threatened a goal, though Aidan Fogarty should probably have done better in the 31st minute, slipping in a back door to go one-on-one with Brendan Cummins only for the Tipp goalkeeper to make a miraculous save, the sliotar spooning up into the grateful hands of Paul Curran.

By then, Tipp should have had a goal too, Lar Corbett’s extraordinary pace catapulting him clear towards an unguarded Kilkenny ‘square’ only for his finish to skim Ryan’s crossbar. If Tipp weren’t exactly as fluid as a river in their hurling, there was no mistaking their hunger. As Sheedy surmised later: “It wasn’t a classic, but it was important for us (to win) after losing to Dublin. We were all severely disappointed after that game. These lads have set themselves high standards over the last two years in fairness to them, but they never really found their level at all that day.

“So we’re just delighted to be able to come back out today and try to rectify a few things. I think you saw that the lads really were hurting. I think some of that hurt might have come out in the jersey today.” Sheedy was, of course, ever mindful of the Kilkenny faces missing yesterday. The Ballyhale contingent would undoubtedly have stiffened their resolve and the loss of Michael Rice with a hamstring pull just 10 minutes after the resumption was a palpable blow. By then the game had settled into a tit-for-tat scoring pattern, both defences essentially bossing their opponents. Yet, Shane McGrath began to grow in prominence at midfield and the move of Micheal Webster to the ’40’ had opened a few doors.

With three minutes of normal time remaining, an exquisite Corbett point from under the old stand restored Tipp’s three-point lead. It sparked Kilkenny into one last furious assault on the Killinan-end goal. Conor O’Mahony deflected a Michael Grace shot out for a ’65’ and, as PJ Delaney’s delivery dipped towards his goal, Cummins fielded brilliantly from just under the crossbar. Soon after, JJ’s intemperate pull sparked that late flurry of indignation that so animated the two managers. When peace resumed, PJ Delaney lobbed for Kilkenny from play, but Tipp’s dander was clearly up now. They got the last two scores, the first from Brennan, the second a sublime Noel McGrath effort from under the old stand. Barry Kelly’s whistle drew a volume of whooping from the locals that said everything about the texture of the win.

“I wouldn’t be getting carried away,” counseled Sheedy. “We probably needed it that bit more than they did. But it’s only the beginning of March. Look, any team is going to have a job going through this league undefeated.” Tipp’s next opponents, Galway, are the only ones now left without a blemish on their spring arithmetic. Kilkenny travel to Cork and Cody is sanguine about the welcome imminent. “I thought this was a great old battle,” he smiled enigmatically. “The intent on both side obviously was serious. T’was a real battle. “It’s a great league, it’s so tight, only the top two teams going through. We’re down two points now and we obviously can’t afford to drop any more. Every game is serious. And next Sunday in Cork will probably be something similar to today.” Hardly a sin to hope.

SCORERS — Tipperary: E Kelly 1-7 (0-6f), S McGrath, L Corbett 0-2 each, J O’Brien, N McGrath, J Brennan 0-1 each.

Kilkenny: J Mulhall , R Hogan (0-3f) 0-3 each, J Tennyson 0-2, T Walsh, J Tyrrell, PJ Delaney, M Rice, E Larkin 0-1 each.

TIPPERARY — B Cummins; B Maher, P Maher, P Curran; D Fanning, C O’Mahony, S Maher; T Stapleton, S McGrath; N McGrath, B Dunne, J O’Brien; E Kelly, M Webster, L Corbett. Subs: H Maloney for Dunne (43), J Brennan for Stapleton (52), S Callanan for O’Brien (60), P Kelly for Webster (66).

KILKENNY — PJ Ryan; C Hickey, B Hogan, J Dalton; T Walsh, J Tyrrell, JJ Delaney; J Tennyson, PJ Delaney; J Mulhall, M Rice, W O’Dwyer; R Hogan, E Larkin, A Fogarty. Subs: M Grace for Rice (46), P Hogan for R Hogan (61).

REF — B Kelly (Westmeath).

Tipperary 1-14 Kilkenny 0-13

From the RTE.ie web site

Sunday, 7 March 2010 18:38

Padraic Maher and team captain Eoin Kelly were in fine form for Tipperary as they defeated reigning champions Kilkenny in this afternoon’s refixed Allianz NHL Division 1 clash in sunny Thurles. The hurling heavyweights met at third time of asking, after snowy conditions had forced the previous two scheduled games to be postponed, and they treated the 20,254 strong crowd, who were admitted free of charge, to a memorable encounter. Speaking after the game, Kelly, who scored 1-07 of Tipp’s tally, said: ‘After losing badly to Dublin last week, we needed to get two points on the board. It’s a competitive league and you have to win every game. ‘We worked very hard for this result and that work rate wasn’t there the last day. ‘We’re delighted to get the victory and are looking forward to facing Galway next week, they’re flying it at the moment. There’s tough games every week.’

This was the sides’ first meeting since Kilkenny retained the All-Ireland title last September, and they lined out with eleven players who saw action in that game. Tipp had 13 in their starting line-up. The intensity was at Championship level in a very competitive opening half, full of strong running, hard pulling and well-taken scores. Padraic Maher and Eoin Larkin faced off in a fascinating individual tussle, as free-takers Richie Hogan and Eoin Kelly knocked over the opening points. Kilkenny’s John Tennyson was the standout player in centre-field but Tipp were proving more clinical in attack, as Kelly nudged the home side ahead along with John O’Brien. The 22-year-old John Mulhall looked the part in the Cats’ attack, as he did as a second half substitute in last week’s win over Offaly. Jackie Tyrrell also cleared a lot of ball from centre-back, while Aidan Fogarty went close to scoring the game’s opening goal, only to be foiled by advancing Tipperary goalkeeper Brendan Cummins.

Mulhall tied up the game in first half injury-time, but there was still time for Kelly to take a pass from Noel McGrath and fire home a splendid goal – moving Tipp 1-06 to 0-06 ahead. Kilkenny had the wind at their backs in the second period but despite Mulhall notching his third point, following a run along the right wing and a crisp strike between the posts, Brian Cody’s men were struggling to convert their scoring chances. They ran their wides total in double figures before Kelly landed a 57th minute free to keep Tipp ahead, with net minder Cummins hardly putting a foot wrong at the other end. The Premier County outfit maintained their goal lead up to the 70-minute mark. PJ Delaney added to the tension for the home supporters when he closed the gap to 1-12 to 0-13, but injury-time points from Jody Brennan and Noel McGrath closed out a good day at the office for Liam Sheedy’s side.

Positive signs for Sheedy’s Tipp

By Tony Considine for the Irish Examiner newspaper

Monday, March 08, 2010

WHAT an outstanding advert for the National Hurling League this was. Just goes to show what can be achieved when there’s a bit of effort put into the marketing of a game, as there was for this one in Thurles yesterday, with free admission after the two previous efforts to play the game were called off due to bad weather. It was a fine sunny day, admittedly, with no other big hurling games on, but a crowd of over 20,000 proves that even in early March, the appetite is still there for hurling. It wasn’t a classic by any means, a lot of mistakes made by both sides, but you’d make allowances for that so early in the season; what stood out, however, was the effort and the commitment, and it made for great entertainment.

The only disappointing thing for me was that it finished too soon; when the board went up on the sideline, one minute of additional time, I thought to myself – a pity it isn’t 10, especially after the two managers, Brian Cody and Liam Sheedy, had just shown their teeth on the sideline! It isn’t often you see two managers getting stuck into each other, but that told you how important this game was. It was only handbags stuff, and nice to see them shake hands immediately after the game, but still, it was great while it lasted – that’s what I spoke of on Saturday, the bite that exists, all the time, between these two great hurling counties. It was a manly game, a fine sporting game with a bit of spice thrown in – exactly what the 20,000 came to see. Value for money or what?! But do you know something? I think if people had been asked to pay going out from this game, they would willingly have put their hands in their pockets.

Maybe the GAA should have done that, and maybe that’s something for them to consider in the future – free admission, but let people pay what they think the game was worth, on the way out. ! Somehow I don’t think that’s a runner though. Finally, before I get into the game itself, I want to compliment whoever made the decision to allow the kids onto the pitch after the game, let them puck around for a while, score a point at the town end just like their heroes. It’s gestures like this that keep the kids involved, with not a yellow vest in sight.

To the game: I said on Saturday that this meant more to Tipperary than it did to Kilkenny. Tipperary suffered that embarrassing loss to Dublin last week – and with all due respect to Dublin, embarrassing it most certainly was, not just beaten but badly beaten, nine points – where Kilkenny are still understrength, missing the likes of Noel Hickey, Cha Fitzpatrick, Derek Lyng, Michael Fennelly, TJ Reid, Eddie Brennan, Martin Comerford, Richie Power and of course, Henry Shefflin. This, then, was a game Tipperary had to win. On the day, it was a game they nearly lost, but you had to admire the way they fought for the win. Four points the final difference, and in a low-scoring game that’s more than enough; nevertheless you’d have to worry for Tipperary, they are still relying on just a few guys to bring them across the line.

Lar Corbett, Shane McGrath, Eoin Kelly (superb day up front), Brendan Maher, Paul Curran, Brendan Cummins, but head and shoulders above all, the full-back Pádraic Maher. We can see now why he got that All-Star last year, and I know it’s early in the year, but it will take a fair man to take that All-Star off him this year. Still only a young fella, but already such a leader. The weakness that Tipperary have, a huge weakness, is the half-forward line. They must get themselves some strong ball-winners in this area, guys who can put the hand up and catch the ball. Okay, they were up against a superb half-back line yesterday in Tommy Walsh, Jackie Tyrell and JJ Delaney, but they weren’t at the races, weren’t even able to contest. That’s a major challenge now facing Liam Sheedy, find ball-winning half-forwards. Another challenge, get a midfield partner for Shane McGrath, who did so much work on his own yesterday.

A lot of encouraging signs for them, however, especially the way they battled, ground out the result. It meant a lot to them to win this game, regardless of what team Kilkenny had out, and it showed, during and after the game. To Kilkenny, and – while he hates to lose – I don’t think Brian Cody will be too disappointed. Canice Hickey played well at corner-back, Brian Hogan again played well at full, the half-back line we’ve mentioned, Tyrell superb as the pivot (will he be there for the championship? I wouldn’t be surprised). John Tennyson did well in midfield, Michael Rice stood out at centre-forward, John Mulhall’s workrate was superb, but he needs to steady up a little on the ball. Overall, however, up front, rarely have I seen a Kilkenny team so ineffective, not even a hint of a goal, no conviction. It’s early days, but the signs for Tipp yesterday were positive, positive also for Kilkenny, who still have so many big guns to come back.

Past Meetings

Saturday evening’s game will be 60th League clash between Tipperary and Kilkenny with Tipp winning 28 times, Kilkenny 25 times and 6 draws in the previous 59 encounters.