Kilkenny 1-11 Tipperary 0-11
Paddy Hogan’s first half goal helped Kilkenny claw their way to a third All-Ireland U21 hurling title in four years, as Tipperary fell to a 1-11 to 0-11 defeat in today's replayed final in Thurles today.
Richie Hogan’s late goal sent the final to a replay last weekend and at Semple Stadium this afternoon, it was the turn of his older brother Paddy to break Tipperary hearts.
Kilkenny led 1-06 to 0-07 at the break after Richie Power and Darragh Egan had hit four points apiece and Austin Murphy had played in Hogan for his 22nd-minute goal.
The Cats' defence bossed the second half, limiting Tipp to three points from play. Fittingly, Power, one of Kilkenny's Liam McCarthy Cup winners, top-scored with 0-06 (4f) as the Noresiders completed their first All-Ireland senior-U21 double since 2003.
Close to 19,000 spectators watched Tipp made a bold start. Midfielder James Woodlock, one of their key men from the drawn game, grabbed possession from the throw-in, burly full-forward Egan shouldered John Tennyson to the floor and Richie Ruth, who was quite the last day, swept over the opening point after five minutes of hectic play.
Both sides soon settled with an excellent score from Tipp's Danny O'Hanlon being sandwiched by two Murphy points at the other end.
Tipp keeper Gerry Kennedy was almost left with egg on his face in the 13th-minute when he cleared the ball straight into the path of Power and the Kilkenny senior star's looped effort, from far out on the left, just about cleared the crossbar with its usual minder marked absent.
Two Darragh Egan frees - the second from 21 yards saw the Kildangan attacker slip when going for goal - kept Tipp in the hunt but Hogan’s goal soon followed. Murphy’s accurate through ball splayed open the Tipp rearguard and Hogan cut in from the left, holding off Paddy Stapleton’s challenge, to bat to the net with Kennedy unfortunately left unsighted.
Power and Egan hit two frees apiece as Kilkenny ended the half 1-06 to 0-07 to the good, and while Tipp got off to a flyer on the resumption – substitute Philip Austin nudged his side to within one – Kilkenny’s defence proceeded to strangle the life out of the Munster champions.
Woodlock and his midfield partner Stephen Lillis were being shunted out of the game, and despite a shaky start, which saw him strike a number of wides, James 'Cha' Fitzpatrick came into his own in the final 15 minutes to help close out the win for the Cats.
Austin added his second point midway through the second half, but by that time Kilkenny had retrieved the situation and had gone a goal back in front.
An extra major would have helped, and credit must go to Tipp backs Alan Byrne and Stapleton for two inspirational hooks on TJ Reid and Power as the duo bore down on Kennedy.
Twice Tipp got the deficit down to two points, thanks to Austin, Woodlock and Egan. The latter had a close range free repelled as Tipp's goal hunt turned to desperation in injury-time.
It was perhaps fitting that last week’s goal hero Richie Hogan would have the final say on the scoreboard – his point on the hour mark will certainly not be the last time that we see the Danesfort clubman, who is still only 18, beat two defenders before shooting over from distance.
There was no denying Kilkenny their first 'double' since 2003, but Tipperary can take heart from how far they have come this year. It was only two years ago that they were hammered 3-21 to 1-06 by Kilkenny in an U-21 final.
Kilkenny manager Adrian Finan was not wrong when he said in the aftermath of today's decider: "The hurling world is going to enjoy some titanic struggles between Tipperary and Kilkenny over the next few years.”
Kilkenny: L Tierney; K Joyce, J Tennyson, S Cummins; P Hartley, J Dalton, D Fogarty; J Fitzpatrick (0-01), M Fennelly (capt); TJ Reid, A Murphy (0-03), P Hogan (1-00); R Hogan (0-1), R Power (0-06 (4f)), D McCormack.
Subs used: A Healy for McCormack (53 mins)
Tipperary: G Kennedy; P Stapleton, A Byrne, C O'Brien; D Young (capt), JB McCarthy, S Horan; J Woodlock (0-01), S Lillis; R O'Dwyer, N Teehan, D Sheppard; R Ruth (0-01), D Egan (0-05 (5f)), D O'Hanlon (0-02).
Subs used: P Austin (0-02) for Sheppard (27 mins), K Lanigan for Horan (half-time), D Hickey for Teehan (38), K Quinlan for Lillis (50)
Referee: Brian Gavin (Offaly).