Cats are back as Kilkenny win thriller

Cats are back as Kilkenny win thriller

Kilkenny 5-20 Tipperary 5-14

Colin Fennelly hit 3-5 for Kilkenny in this afternoon’s classic Allianz Hurling League Division 1A clash with Tipperary at Nowlan Park.

Free-scoring Fennelly, Henry Shefflin and Walter Walsh bagged 4-15 between them on a seismic afternoon at the Kilkenny city venue.

The Cats hit back from their opening day loss to All-Ireland finalists Clare with a much-improved performance that sent Tipperary to a first competitive defeat of the 2014 season.

Seamus Callanan hit 3-6 for the visitors, including 3-1 from play, but even that individual haul wasn’t enough for Tipperary, who coughed up a 10-point lead.

With less than 14 minutes on the watch, Tipp had bagged 3-3, with the goals scored by Noel McGrath, Jason Forde and Callanan.

Fennelly’s first goal, scored by Fennelly in the 24th minute after TJ Reid rattled the crossbar, provided oxygen to the Cats but Tipp responded in kind through Callanan.

Four first half points from Walsh helped to keep Kilkenny in touch and when Shefflin flicked home a classy goal in the 31st minute, the comeback was on.

The Cats and with the breeze to come in the second half, they were very much in contention, trailing by 2-9 to 4-9 at the break.

And that was a wholly acceptable outcome for the League champions, who had been 1-8 to 4-9 in arrears.

In front of 8,651 spectators, the scene was set for a wonderful second half and in a repeat of last year’s League final, these ancient rivals didn’t disappoint.

Kilkenny’s third goal was smashed home by Fennelly in the 44th minute but Callanan hit back with his third, and Tipperary’s fifth goal, six minutes later.

Kilkenny finally got level in the 56th minute when Fennelly rammed home another picture-book goal to tie the scores at 4-14 to 5-11.

The sides were level on three further occasions before promising full-forward Mark Kelly booted home Kilkenny’s fifth goal with two minutes of normal time remaining.

Now 5-17 to 5-14 in front, Kilkenny kicked for home and points for influential sub Richie Hogan, Fennelly and Hogan again clinched the win for Brian Cody’s battlers.

KILKENNY: D Herity; W Phelan, K Joyce, B Kennedy; J Holden, B Hogan, T Walsh; L Ryan, P Walsh (0-1); W Walsh (0-5), C Fennelly (3-5), H Shefflin (1-5, 0-5f); JJ Farrell, M Kelly (1-1), TJ Reid (0-1).

Subs: P Murphy for Phelan (26), R Hogan (0-2) for B Hogan (h.t.), C Buckley for T Walsh (h.t.), E Larkin for Farrell (53), J Brennan for Fennelly (70).

TIPPERARY: D Gleeson; P Stapleton, T Stapleton, C Barrett; S McGrath, C O’Brien, M Cahill (0-2); Padraic Maher, J Woodlock (0-1); K Bergin, P Murphy (0-1), B Maher (0-1); N McGrath (1-3), S Callanan (3-6, 0-3f, 0-2 65s), J Forde (1-0).

Subs: Patrick Maher for Forde (51), J O’Dwyer for Bergin (60), D Maher for S McGrath (64), M Heffernan for Murphy (67), R Maher for O’Brien (70).

Referee: D Kirwan (Cork).

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