DUBLIN, Irel. -Two heavyweights went head-to-head in this year’s All-Ireland hurling final but it was Tipperary who reined supreme. The Premier county were sharper, hungrier and more clinical than their opponents in front of goal. Kilkenny has been the dominant team in Ireland for much of the last decade but today belonged to the men from Tipperary. Legandary Kilkenny manager Brian Cody was humble in defeat: “There’s no arguments about today, the better team won the match,” Cody admitted.
“It was comprehensive. We went in at half-time two points down, well in the game, and got a good start to the second half and got a goal. But they didn’t blink, they came back at us and they got some terrific scores. We were outplayed throughout the second half and there’s no argument that the better team won.”
Kilkenny was aiming for their third All-Ireland title in a row. Michael Ryan, the Tipperary manager, had different ideas. Ryan’s men punished a weak defensive display by the Kilkenny with some terrific displays by their inside forward line. Seamus Callanan put in a performance for the ages. Classy, determined and eager to work for the full 70 minutes. Callanan was out in front of Joey Holden all day. He showed accuracy from frees, fantastic vision to bring his colleagues into play and accurate shooting from play as well as placed balls. Callahan showed his class with some glorious points taken off both his left and right side. He finished with a total of 13 points, 9 of those from play. Callanan had his doubters leading up to today’s game but truly silenced his critics with a colossal display.
Another man that answered his critics on the field today was John ‘Bubbles’ O’Dwyer. O’Dwyer gave his marker Paul Murphy a torrid time, scoring 1-05. Murphy had no answer for O’Dwyer’s hunger to get out in front all day long. His display was capped off with a fantastic individual goal midway through the second half after a powerful run through the Kilkenny defense which saw O’Dwyer drill the ball low past Eoin Murphy.
Afterwards Tipperary manager Michael Ryan reflected afterwards on O’Dwyer’s performance: “Since the Galway game he’s been in outstanding form, he was there on merit and there’s no freebies in this world. He’s in great form and you saw out there today he was irresistible.”
It was a day to remember for the McGrath family. Noel McGrath, who only last year was given the all-clear from testicular cancer, put in a fantastic shift along with brother John. John finished with an impressive tally of 1-03. To mark off a phenomenal day for the McGrath family younger brother Brian McGrath captained the Tipperary minor team to All-Ireland victory in Croke Park prior to the senior final.
Cody, the greatest hurling manager of all time, will have to go back to the drawing board. He has lost some big name leaders over the past couple of years including Tommy Walsh and Henry Shefflin. Midfielder Michael Fennelly was a noticeable loss for the Cats today and his strength and power would have asked Tipperary questions. Cody, renowned for his shrewd tactics, must be asked why no changes were made to the Kilkenny full-back line after the Tipperary full-forward line made them look far inferior today. Michael Ryan on the other hand introduced Jason Forde during the second half and he made an immediate contribution calmly stroking the ball over the bar for his first of two points. It was a marvelous game of hurling, a goal late on for debutant Kevin Kelly was not enough for Kilkenny.
The day belonged to Tipperary, they ended their six year wait for an All-Ireland with a display that will be remembered for a long time to come.
Tipperary: D Gleeson; C Barrett, J Barry, M Cahill; S Kennedy (0-01), R Maher, Padraic Maher (0-01); B Maher, M Breen; D McCormack (0-01), Patrick Maher (0-02), N McGrath (0-01); J McGrath (1-03), S Callanan (0-13, 0-03f, 1 65), J O’Dwyer (1-05, 1 s/l, 0-01f).
Subs: J Forde (0-02) for Breen, N O’Meara for McCormack, D Maher for Cahill, K Bergin for N McGrath, T Hamill for Kennedy.
Kilkenny: E Murphy; S Prendergast, J Holden, P Murphy; P Walsh (0-02), K Joyce, C Buckley (0-01); TJ Reid (0-11, 0-10f, 0-01 65), C Fogarty; W Walsh (0-01), R Hogan (1-01), E Larkin (0-02); K Kelly (1-02), C Fennelly, L Blanchfield.
Subs: R Lennon for Joyce, L Ryan for Larkin.
Referee: B Gavin (Offaly)