Kilkenny 3-15, Tipperary 1-7
By John Murphy
ANOTHER generation of Kilkenny hurling artists set the Croke Park scene alight yesterday as the exciting young Cats put their name on the All Ireland minor championship roll of honour for the 17th time with a magnificent 14-point victory over a battling but outclassed Tipperary.
The Munster champions paraded John Boland in his regular wing back berth following his High Court success earlier in the week when he succeeded in having a four-week match ban lifted. That was the extent of the Toomevara player's success and, having struggled like so many of his colleagues in a vain attempt to curtail a rampant opposition, he was eventually substituted 13 minutes into the second half.
All round this was a tour de force display by a Kilkenny side that looked a class act in every sector of the field. Tipperary succeeded in staying with them for more than 20 minutes, twice in fact easing into a two point lead, but once Kilkenny struck for their opening goal in the 24th minute the alarm bells were ringing loudly all over the field for the Munster champions.
Kilkenny suddenly exploded into life turning up the tempo of their game and treating the fans to passages of hurling that were a delight to behold. Tipp to their credit never stopped battling but, in the face of an awesome hurling force, they were simply outclassed and ultimately overwhelmed.
The early sequences were promising enough for Tipp with Francis Devanney giving them a 5th minute lead with a sweetly struck point. The same player was also the mark with another fine effort in the 10th minute to again restore their lead and the sides were twice more deadlocked on the scoreboard before Kilkenny struck for a brace of crucial goals in a four-minute spell.
The first came on 24 minutes, a real gem that exemplified the class which oozed right through this super Kilkenny side. A searing 70-metre solo run by the outstanding Shane Coonan saw the wing forward provide Eamonn Reid with an inch perfect pass and the rangy full-forward gave goalkeeper Patrick McCormack no chance.
In hindsight, it was the score that marked the beginning of the end for Tipp. Four minutes later they conceded another, this time James Fitzpatrick rising highest to brilliantly bat Alan Healy’s centre to the net.
By half-time the winners were a commanding six points clear, 2-6 to 0-6, and, barring something akin to a miracle on the turnover, the title was already Noreside-bound. No miracles were forthcoming, however, and as As the game advanced, so too did Kilkenny’s supremacy. The unerringly accurate Richie Power (he ended with a tally of seven from frees) found the range within 40 seconds of the restart and when Fitzpatrick followed his well taken point with another masterly goal in the 39th minute the Tipperary goose was well and truly cooked.
This time his other corner-forward partner, Alan Healy, was the provider with a peach of a pass and Fitzpatrick’s clinical finishing gave goalkeeper McCormack no chance.
By now it was all nicely done and dusted for the Cats. Sporadic Tipp attacks were effortlessly dealt with by a defence in which John Tennyson at number three was majestic, while their own speedy forwards continued to pose endless problems for a Tipp defence that was becoming increasingly overrun.
The classy Michael Race and the industrious Stephen Maher were monarchs of all they surveyed around the middle of the field, and with every Kilkenny forward getting his name on the scoreboard it was near enough to a rout in the end.
Tipp made wholesale changes both positional and personal, but it made no appreciable difference, and David Morrissey’s goal from a melee following a Willie Ryan free in the 50th minute proved to be nothing more than a consolation score. Goalkeeper Colm Grant did deny substitute Thomas Fitzgerald with a terrific save in the 54th minute, but the Cats finished this final in the style of the great champions they are with further points from Coonan and Power from a free.
In fact they could even the afford the luxury of substituting some of their best players in the closing minutes as they scorched to a victory as richly deserved as it was impressively fashioned and one about which there could be no argument.
Scorers for Kilkenny; J. Fitzpatrick (2 2); R. Power (0 7, frees); E. Reid (1 1); S. Coonan (0 2); A. Healy (0 2); W. O’Dwyer (0 1)
Tipperary; D. Morrissey (1 0); W. Ryan (0 4); F. Devanney (0 2); T. Scroope (0 1).
KILKENNY: C. Grant; P. Holden. J. Tennyson. D. Prendergast; K. Nolan. P.J. Delaney. C. Hoyne; M. Rice. S. Maher; R. Po0wer. W. O’Dwyer. S.Coonan; J. Fitzpatrick. E. Reid. A. Healy; Subs; R.Dowling for Dwyer; P. Kennedy for Delaney; S. Cadogan for Prendergast.
TIPPERARY: P. McCormack; M. Treacy. D. Bourke. M. Bergin; John Boland. D. Morrissey. D.Kennedy; W. Cully. C. O’Mahony; P. Short. F., Devanney. W. Ryan; E. Sweeney. T. Scroope. T. Ivors.
Subs; D. Sheppard for Sweeney; T. Fitzgerald for Ivors; B.O’Sullivan for Cully; D. Corcoran for Boland; P. Ryan for Morrissey.
Referee: Diarmuid Kirwan, Cork.