By John Fogarty
Kilkenny 2-23 Tipperary 2-17
Kilkenny made it an eighth consecutive win over Tipperary in Nowlan Park with an empathic second-half show.
Led by the supreme Paddy Deegan and TJ Reid, the Cats were excellent in shoving their neighbours off to seal a trip to Australia in November where they will face Galway.
A Walter Walsh goal in the opening minute of the second half set them on their way but it was a stretch between the 48th and 54th minute when they sent over five scores to Tipperary’s one that sent them on their way to victory.
Conor Fogarty’s solo effort in the 64th minute sure helped and while Jason Forde found the net a second time two minutes later thanks to a 20-metre free, Kilkenny could not be touched.
Having benefitted from the wind, Tipperary were two points up at the break, 1-10 to 0-11, the difference being Forde’s 24th-minute goal.
Alan Flynn had caught well and delivered long into John McGrath who, upon gathering, realised there was more than a point on and fed the ball inside to Forde to beat Eoin Murphy.
It was the only goal chance in a drab enough opening half, where both teams were guilty of disjointed play, and each inside line looked redundant for long spells. It took Kilkenny until the 21st minute to score their first point from play, via TJ Reid, who was again Kilkenny’s best forward.
It was through Reid that Kilkenny went ahead for the first time two minutes later when he punished a Michael Breen foul on Deegan, who was excellent in the opening period.
A few of Tipperary’s forwards were losing their individual battles but the ball was coming back almost as quickly at them from their forward division.
After Forde’s goal, Seán Curran added a point but Kilkenny sliced the margin to a single point inside a couple of minutes.
Tipperary stretched their advantage to three before Reid broke through the Tipp cover with ease to float over a third point from play in first-half additional time.
Scorers for Kilkenny: T.J. Reid (0-15, 11 frees, 1 sideline); W. Walsh (1-2); C. Fogarty (1-0); J. Donnelly (0-2); E. Murphy (free), R. Leahy, M. Keoghan, L. Blanchfield (0-1 each).
Scorers for Tipperary: J. Forde (2-12, 1-9 frees, 0-1 65, 0-1 sideline); J. McGrath (0-2); W. Connors, S. Curran, S. Kennedy (0-1 each).
KILKENNY: E. Murphy; J. Holden, P. Walsh, P. Deegan; C. Delaney, C. Buckley (c), E. Morrissey; R. Leahy, J. Maher; M. Keoghan, T.J. Reid, J. Donnelly; A. Murphy, W. Walsh, B. Sheehan.
Subs for Kilkenny: L. Blanchfield for A. Murphy (41); L. Scanlon for B. Sheehan (44); C. Fogarty for R. Leahy (48); C. Martin for J. Donnelly (63).
TIPPERARY: D. Mooney; A. Flynn, J. Barry, M. Cahill; B. Heffernan, R. Maher, P. Maher (c); B. Maher, S. Kennedy; S. Curran, B. McCarthy, J. McGrath; W. Connors, J. Forde, M. Breen.
Subs for Tipperary: J. O’Dwyer for M. Breen (h-t); C. Barrett for S. Kennedy (45); M. Russell for S. Curran (60); D. Maher for J. Barry (61).
Referee: A. Kelly (Galway).