Minor ace Hogan gets nod as Kilkenny get vote to pip Tipp in replay

KILKENNY make one change to the starting line-up for this afternoon’s All-Ireland U-21 hurling replay against Tipperary in Thurles with minor star Richie Hogan in at corner-forward for Alan Healy.

Hogan replaced Healy in the drawn game with 20 minutes to go and hit 1-1, with the goal, three minutes into added time, the equalising score.

Tipperary manager Fr Tom Fogarty, whose own management team is sticking by a decision not to use any of the successful Tipp minor team of this year, isn’t surprised.

“Not in the least. He’s a gifted hurler and is going to be a great player. The way he took his goal last Sunday was clinical. I’d have been more surprised if he hadn’t started.”

The Tipperary side shows one change from the team which started in the drawn game last Sunday. Danny O’Hanlon replaces Ray McLoughney at left corner-forward.

The major concern for Kilkenny going into last week’s drawn game was the hype after their senior success seven days previously. Three of the starting 15 on that team are central players with the U21’s (John Tennyson, James ‘Cha’ Fitzpatrick and Richie Power), while four more of the underage side are senior panellists. Add in the fact that Tipp had gained little or no recognition for the way they had won through to this final, and it was a classic scenario for a shock. In fairness to the Tipp lads, they did their utmost and came within seconds of delivering.

Kilkenny manager Adrian Finan predicts a different scenario today.

“All last week we were being built up, but I knew Tipperary had a strong team, knew they’d performed well in Munster, knew they were a very hard-working side. That was a dangerous combination and we were being built up for the fall. We had seen it the week before, for the senior game, the build up to that one was just as ridiculous. Kilkenny were big underdogs, but they had serious hurlers and again that was a dangerous combination for Cork to be playing against.”

Nevertheless, the pressure is still mostly on Kilkenny. Common wisdom is that Tipp have had their chance, left it behind them, but the Cats will be stronger this week. That wisdom is rejected by both managers.

Said Finan: “Ah sure, there’s always pressure, it’s an All-Ireland final, isn’t it? There’s pressure on Tipperary too. The build-up has been a bit different this week, the nerves are still there, but the players all realise now that it’s a fifty/fifty game. To be honest, I think there was more pressure on the lads last week.”

Said Fr Fogarty: “I wouldn’t accept that our chance is gone, that has yet to be seen. The same people were saying we had no chance at all last week, and look what happened. It’s all about how lads perform on the day, we see it the same as the last day and I think it’s still there for us. The fact that they scored with the last puck changes nothing. I’ve been saying this all season, this is a very hard-working side. We got no credit when we beat Clare, but I would say that was the best prepared Clare team for years. Then we went on to play Cork, we were rank outsiders, people didn’t think we had any chance, but we played well in the second half of that game. The work ethic is something we’ve tried to cultivate from the beginning of this year.”

Advantage Tipperary? Perhaps, but only marginally so, and again both agree on this.

Said Adrian: “It’s Tipperary’s back garden, so you’d have to be wary of that, we’ve probably handed them a certain advantage there alright. But we’re going to a top class hurling field, all the lads want to play there, so we’re not overly concerned about it. I think most counties would agree that Thurles is the home of hurling, it’s a great place for an All-Ireland final to be played.”

Fr Fogarty: “Thurles will make no difference. Tipperary will have a big crowd there, but so will Kilkenny, it’s just next door to us here ... It won’t make any difference.”

All set up then for another cracking contest. It’s a difficult one to call, star-studded Kilkenny, yet each of those dedicated team players, against an extremely hard-working and tightly-bonded Tipp team, yet a team that also has its own quota of individual stars like Paddy Stapleton, Jim Bob McCarthy, captain David Young, midfielders James Woodlock and Stephen Lillis, forwards Niall Teehan and Darragh Egan. Going for Kilkenny, but only after tossing a coin!

TIPPERARY (U21HC v Kilkenny): G Kennedy; P Stapleton, A Byrne, C O’Brien; D Young, J McCarthy, S Horan; J Woodlock, S Lillis; R O’Dwyer, N Teehan, D Sheppard; R Ruth, D Egan, D O’Hanlon.

KILKENNY (U21 HC v Tipperary): L Tierney; K Joyce, J Tennyson, S Cummins; P Hartley, J Dalton, D Fogarty; J Fitzpatrick, M Fennelly; TJ Reid, A Murphy, P Hogan; R Hogan, R Power, D McCormack.

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