Kilkenny 2-22 Tipperary 2-21
By Michael Moynihan Nowlan Park
Kilkenny took the honours in this pulsating NHL 1A clash in sunny Nowlan Park today, with 10,587 in attendance as the Cats stole the win with a late Richie Leahy point.
Kilkenny defended the dressing-room end in the first half, facing the sun, but the visitors were 0-4 to 0-1 ahead on seven minutes, Niall O’Meara chipping in with two.
Tipp were dominant in most areas early on but leaked frees which TJ Reid converted to keep his side in touch, and his first from play levelled matters at 0-5 apiece on 14 minutes.
Pat Lyng nudged the Cats ahead as Tipp began to hit poor wides; O’Meara levelled the game on 17 minutes and it was nip and tuck to the break.
Kilkenny were heavily reliant on Reid, who duly put them two up by the 24th minute with a fine brace. The home side maintained that margin almost to the break, only for Brendan Maher’s long-range point to make it 0-13 to 0-12 before the half-time whistle.
Walter Walsh buried a fine solo goal immediately on the resumption and Luke Scanlon did the same a minute later with another terrific run and finish after more spadework from Walsh.
There were no scores until Tipp’s first of the half on 45 minutes - a goal bundled home by Michael Breen, 2-13 to 1-12. Within sixty seconds, though Liam Blanchfield had won a Kilkenny penalty - which Reid put over the bar. Almost from the puck-out Michael Breen slammed home another Tipp goal.
Tipp nudged two ahead doing into the third quarter but Reid pegged them back with a free; Breen hit a free in response.
Sub Richie Reid levelled the game with ten minutes left and TJ Reid pushed them ahead with another free; Ronan Maher replied with a sideline cut - 2-19 each, seven minutes left.
Another Reid free gave Kilkenny the lead and Alan Murphy added another fine effort from play on 67 minutes. Brendan Maher made it a one-point game with a minute of official time left.
Breen levelled but Leahy surged upfield for that dramatic winner, Kilkenny throwing back Tipperary's last desperate attack.
TJ Reid (1 pen, 7 frees, 2 65s)(0-13); W. Walsh, L. Scanlon (1-0 each); R. Leahy (0-3); J. Maher, L. Blanchfield, P. Lyng, C. Browne, R. Reid, A. Murphy (0-1 each).
M. Breen (6 frees)(2-9); B. Maher (0-4); N. O’Meara (0-3); C. Darcy, S. Curran, B. McCarthy, M. Russell, R. Maher (sideline)(0-1 each).
D. Brennan, E. Morrissey, J. Holden, P. Deegan, C. O’Shea, C. Buckley, C. Browne, J. Maher, L. Blanchfield, M. Keoghan, TJ Reid, P. Lyng, R. Leahy, W. Walsh, L. Scanlon.
Subs: A. Murphy for Blanchfield (47); L. Ryan for Lyng (50); R. Reid for Keoghan (60); C. Martin for Scanlon (65).
D. Mooney, A. Flynn, T. Hamill, S. O’Brien, S. Kennedy, J. Barry, D. Maher, B. Maher, R. Maher, S. Curran, B. McCarthy, P. Maher, G. Browne, M. Breen, N. O’Meara.
Subs: M. Russell for Browne (HT); C Darcy for O’Meara (inj, 42)
A. Kelly (Galway).