By John Fogarty
Kilkenny didn’t lead this game until the 67th minute but they couldn’t have timed it better to take their first two points of their Division 1A campaign.
In front of a 10,892 crowd in Nowlan Park, Kevin Kelly struck two late goals to land a decisive psychological blow against Tipperary, who for a long period had been looking good to hold onto what would have been only their third win over their neighbours since the 2010 All-Ireland final.
Tipperary had performers in Michael Breen and James Barry but the class of TJ Reid, link play of Walter Walsh and poaching of Kelly made the difference in the end.
Kelly took a pass from substitute Johnjo Farrell to bundle over a ground shot for his first goal and then in additional time raced away from a ball broken from a long puck-out to beat Darren Gleeson.
Beforehand, Richie Hogan’s late fitness problem meant John Power deputised in the Kilkenny attack. Tipperary lost their in-form Jason Forde to illness and he was replaced by John O’Dwyer.
Having won the toss and deciding to take the wind advantage in the first half, Tipperary needed to go into the break ahead. They did – 0-9 to 0-8 – but didn’t score for the last nine minutes of the half and spurned three goal chances, two coming inside the first five minutes. At the other end, Gleeson made a spectacular save from Power in the 23rd minute and Barry did well to block the follow-up.
Tipperary were four points ahead after 20 minutes but never pushed on from there as Kilkenny exerted their physical dominance towards the end of the half. Brendan Maher was guilty of being out of position on a few occasions and his namesake James, making his first league start, was able to take advantage, posting a couple of points to finish out the half.
Scorers for Kilkenny: TJ Reid (0-10, 6 frees, 1 65); K Kelly (2-1); J Maher (0-4); P Walsh, W Walsh (0-1 each).
Scorers for Tipperary: J O’Dwyer (0-9, 4 frees, 2 65s); J McGrath (0-4, 1 free); C Kenny, N McGrath (0-2 each); M Breen (0-1).
KILKENNY: E Murphy; P Murphy, J Holden, S Prendergast; P Walsh, R Lennon, D Cody; L Ryan, C Fogarty; C Fennelly, TJ Reid, J Maher; W Walsh, K Kelly, J Power.
Subs for Kilkenny: JJ Farrell for J Power, K Joyce for J Holden (both 63).
TIPPERARY: D Gleeson; C Barrett, T Hamill, M Cahill; B Maher, J Barry, Pádraic Maher; M Breen, D Quinn; D McCormack, Patrick Maher, J O’Dwyer; N McGrath, C Kenny, J McGrath.
Subs for Tipperary: N O’Meara for C Kenny (50); R Maher for D Quinn (52); J Meagher for Padraic Maher, A Coffey for D McCormack (both 68).
Referee: C McAllister (Cork)