Kilkenny minors hold on for gutsy semi-final win over Tipperary

Kilkenny 1-15 - 2-10 Tipperary

By Paul Keane

Brave Kilkenny showed their determined streak with a stubborn second-half performance at Croke Park to return to the Electric Ireland All-Ireland minor hurling final.

Cian Kelly celebrates at the final whistle at the All-Ireland Minor Hurling Championship Semi-Final, Croke Park, roday. Photo credit: ©INPHO/Tommy Dickson

Richie Mulrooney's side led by six points at half-time but 2-1 from Tipp sub Mikey O'Shea reduced the gap to just two points on a couple of occasions late on.

Kilkenny held on though and with Man of the Match Jamie Harkin excellent in defence they ground out a crucial win in their ninth game of a marathon summer.

They'll return to Croke Park on August 19 to face Galway, conquerors of Dublin yesterday, in the decider when they will challenge for a first title since 2014.

It'll be the second meeting of the counties in a matter of weeks having played in the quarter-final group stage when Galway beat Kilkenny by seven points.

Galway will also take heart from the fact that they beat Dublin comfortably, the same team that overcame Kilkenny in a 13-goal thriller in the Leinster final.

It was Tipp's sixth game of the campaign compared to Kilkenny's ninth, and the Cats' third consecutive weekend of action as they took the circuitous route to the last four.

Yet there was no sign of fatigue on Kilkenny's part as they trailed briefly early on but otherwise set the pace.

The sides were level four times up to 0-4 apiece in an error ridden opening 22 minutes before Kilkenny put clear daylight between the teams.

A 1-3 burst without reply between then and half-time left them sitting pretty with a 1-7 to 0-4 advantage.

It was Tipperary's first outing since beating Limerick in the Munster final on July 1 and they struggled to catch a spark, scoring just two points from play in the first-half.

Devon Ryan and their prolific forward Sean Hayes scored those though it was Kilkenny who showed more attacking intent.

Points from Ciaran Brennan, Dan Coogan and Cathal O'Leary nudged them 0-7 to 0-4 clear before Brennan netted in first-half injury-time.

George Murphy played in the speculative ball from the left which evaded a ruck of players and broke kindly for Brennan to whip in with a rasping ground stroke.

Captain Conor Kelly went close with a goal chance also but his shot was well saved by Tipp 'keeper Aaron Browne.

Tipp came roaring back into the contest in the third quarter with a clear increase in energy and efficiency.

Sub O'Shea hauled them back into it with a 1-1 in a matter of minutes having only come on late in the first-half.

James Devaney did well for the goal, pulling the ball the back from the right endline for O'Shea to slam home from a central position.

With Kilkenny now under serious pressure, they coughed up possession close to goal for O'Shea to add a point shortly after the goal.

Kilkenny reopened a five-point advantage with seven minutes to go when O'Shea raced onto a clever pop pass and blasted in his second goal.

It left two between them but Tipp couldn't reel in that margin as Kilkenny held on for a gutsy win.

Scorers for Kilkenny: C. Brennan (1-2), J. Morrissey (0-4), J. Buggy (0-4, 2 frees), C. Kelly (0-1, 1 free), D. Coogan (0-1), C. O'Leary (0-1), K. Hogan (0-1), E. Guilfoyle (0-1).

Scorers for Tipperary: M. O'Shea (2-1), D. Ryan (0-3, 1 free), C. Whelan (0-2, 2 frees), S. Hayes (0-1), J. Devaney (0-1), J. Morrissey (0-1), J. Lanigan (0-1).

Kilkenny: J. Brennan; P. Dempsey, J. Young, D. Crehan; D. Maher, S. Staunton, J. Harkin; C. Kelly, C. Kenny; C. Brennan, J. Buggy, G. Murphy; C. O'Leary, J. Morrissey, D. Coogan.

Subs: K. Hogan for O'Leary (41); P. Moylan for Coogan (48); E. Guilfoyle for Moylan (52).

Tipperary: A. Browne; K. Hayes, C. Whelan, C. O'Dwyer; J. Ryan, S. Phelan, F. Hanafin; M. Hackett, J. Campion; C. O'Farrell, R Renehan, K. O'Kelly; D. Ryan, S. Hayes, J. Devaney.

Subs: J. Morrissey for Hackett (25); M. O'Shea for Renehan (28); K. Maher for Campion (46); J. Lanigan for Devaney (48); K. Ryan for J. Ryan (56).

Ref: R. McGann (Clare).

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