Kilkenny 1-21 Tipperary 2-16
Kilkenny's quest for back-to-back ESB All-Ireland MHC titles continued at Croke Park this afternoon with a hard-earned two-point win over Tipperary.
The dominant Cats raced into a 0-7 to 0-1 lead after 10 minutes with half-forward Geoff Brennan in impressive form with four early points.
Tipperary's lone score at this stage was the opening point of the contest from Sean Curran.
The Premier County were outclassed for most of the opening half, with scores from Brennan, Sean Kehoe and Richie Doyle opening up a 0-10 to 0-2 lead by the 15th minute.
But Tipp rallied before the interval as they cut the gap to four points.
Mark O'Leary's charges gained great confidence off the back of a David Collins goal on 19 minutes.
The Drom & Inch clubman's three-pointer arrived after some sustained pressure. Brian Stapleton and Curran combined before Collins crashed a powerful shot to the net.
John O'Dwyer added two of the next three points for Tipp to reduce the arrears to 0-11 to 1-4.
However, Kilkenny came good once more before the interval, with Cillian Buckley and the impressive Walter Walsh among the scorers as they turned around with a 0-15 to 1-6 lead.
Tipperary came out strongly in the second half, putting the champions under huge pressure during a ten-minute spell.
Free-taker O'Dwyer and Curran were instrumental in orchestrating this comeback with three points each.
But Kilkenny roared back with a 46th minute goal from Walsh, who rasped a powerful shot to the corner of the net.
The beaten Munster finalists battled hard in the closing stages, but a second point of the game from substitute Martin Gaffney steered Kilkenny through in injury-time.
KILKENNY: J Power; I Duggan, W Phelan, J Lyng; L Harney, R Doyle (0-2, 2 65), J Gannon; C Kenny (0-1), O Walsh (0-1); G Brennan (0-5), S Kehoe (0-5, 4fs), C Buckley (0-1); G Aylward (0-1), W Walsh (1-2), C Maher (0-1).
Subs used: S Phelan for Gannon (42 mins), M Gaffney (0-2, 1f) for Aylward (44), J Cassin for Kehoe (59).
TIPPERARY: D McCormack; S Maher, L Butler, A Ryan; D Maher, W Ryan, J Meagher; A Hogan, B Stapleton (0-1); S Curran (0-3), T Butler (0-1), E Murray (0-2), D Collins (1-1), J O’Dwyer (1-8, 7fs), A Cleere.
Subs used: D Butler for Cleere (42 mins), P Heffernan for L Butler (51), M O’Brien for Collins (53), J Forde for Hogan (53).
Referee: Declan O’Driscoll (Limerick)