Strength of Tipp defence ensures victory

Tipperary 2-19

Tipperary won this cracking contest in Nowlan Park yesterday for much the same reason that they lost to Cork at home in the last round, simple motivation.

With both managers more or less conceding as much afterwards, it means that the two qualifying positions will now be in doubt until the third round.

It was a result noteworthy for the reason that Kilkenny were in control over the opening 15 minutes and that in the course of Tipperary's steady improvement, team captain Eoin Kelly and new full-forward Ger O'Grady were to finish with an impressive 1-13 between them.

But, ultimately it was the strength of the defence which ensured victory after a late goal from Charlie Carter, one of five substitutes introduced by Kilkenny over the last quarter.

Tipp manager Michael Doyle "sensed a good attitude" among his players before the game.

"Fair enough, we might get beaten, but we knew we wouldn't go down without a fight," he said.

"Maybe Kilkenny were in a similar position to us the last day, that when they were on top the killer thing wasn't there."

Brian Cody was philosophical, saying: "We got a serious reminder about the difficulties we face in the weeks and months ahead."

It was 0-4 to 0-1 by the 10th minute before Carey goaled five minutes later and during that time Kilkenny looked in a different class.

While they took scores with comparatively ease, Tipperary made the openings but finished poorly. Notably, Philip Larkin was doing great work in the left corner against Eoin Kelly and up front Henry Shefflin was influential at centre-forward.

However, as early as the 20th minute when only Carey's goal separated the sides the gap had narrowed.

Conor Gleeson was prominent at centre-forward, Kelly was starting to create openings and O'Grady was showing promise.

At the other end, the threat from the Kilkenny attack had been minimised and was to lessen further once Benny Dunne started to win possession against Carey and Thomas Dunne made his mark around midfield.

Here, Kilkenny's newest addition, Tommy Walsh, was to end up as their most consistent performer.

Tipperary's challenge continued to strengthen, in spite of a growing wides total. O'Grady now had the beating of Hickey and, even though Larkin got in an amount of good work, he was unable to tie down Kelly.

From a Kilkenny perspective, Peter Barry's strong play over the second quarter was important, as was the efforts of Richie Mullally and J.J. Delaney on the wings in limiting the Tipp half-forwards.

But, crucially, they were penetrating much less because of the effectiveness of Tipperary's covering.

Level 1-9 at the break with all of their scores coming from play Tipperary were much better organised on the restart and played with a growing confidence that was perhaps best epitomised in the play of O'Grady.

Vital, too, was the impressive play from Noel Morris at midfield and the growing influence of their half-backs, Brian Horgan in particular.

Behind them, Philip Maher was also contributing hugely.

The team's first score from a free, from Kelly in the 57th minute, had them five points in front and looking good, with Lar Corbett much more involved.

And, when O'Grady kicked an opportunist goal five minutes later, they were seven points clear.

According as Carey, Brennan and Martin Comerford were failing to make an impact (with a declining flow of possession), Kilkenny were dependant on Shefflin frees, most of which he earned through his strong play.

Likewise, Walsh's consistency at midfield was a big help.

Nevertheless, with Brendan Cummins doing well to divert a low shot from Eddie Brennan over the bar, there seemed little likelihood of them saving the game until Charlie Carter goaled in the 67th minute.

By now, Larkin was at full-back after Noel Hickey had been one of the players withdrawn, but O'Grady had done the damage, along with Kelly.

And, with Thomas Dunne at his best and the backs working very well as a unit, Tipperary just were not going to yield.

* Michael Wadding did a good job of refereeing. But a few umpiring calls weren't entirely convincing.

Scorers for Tipperary: G. O'Grady 1-6; E. Kelly 0-7 (0-1 free); M. O'Leary 1-2; T. Dunne 0-2 frees; L. Corbett and C. Gleeson 0-1 each.

Kilkenny: H. Shefflin 0-8 (0-7 frees); D.J. Carey 1-3 (0-1 free); C. Carter 1-0; T. Walsh and E. Brennan 0-2 each; R. Mullally 0-1 sideline.

TIPPERARY: B. Cummins; M. Maher, P. Maher, B. Dunne; E. Corcoran, D. Kennedy, B. Horgan; T. Dunne, N. Morris; M. O'Leary, C. Gleeson, J. Carroll; E. Kelly (capt.), G. O'Grady, L. Corbett.

Sub: L. Cahill for Carroll (70th minute).

KILKENNY: J. McGarry; M. Kavanagh, N. Hickey, P. Larkin; R. Mullally, P. Barry, J.J. Delaney; D. Lyng, T. Walsh; B. McEvoy, H. Shefflin, J. Coogan; D.J. Carey (capt.), M. Comerford, E. Brennan.

Subs: C. Carter for Coogan and P. Tennyson for Lyng (56th minute); C. Phelan for McEvoy and W. Bourke for Hickey (61st); B. Dowling for Brennan (66th).

Referee: M. Wadding (Waterford).

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