The final whistle of last Sunday’s All Ireland hurling final signaled the end of a frustrating 6 year wait for Tipperary supporters. But make no mistake it, from the evidence of the early exchanges, there was ever only going to be one winner. The men in blue and gold were emphatic winners, worth every one of their 9-point winning margin if not more.
In analysing the match in last week’s column, I identified some of the key battles that would determine the outcome of the game. Tipp triumphed in every department:
As any player will tell you, one of the hardest things to retain over the full course of a championship is form. Everything needs to be right – your condition, your touch, your fitness, your confidence, your ability to think rationally and make telling plays. Generally, on any team that is going well, you’ll have 8 or 9 players who are close to top form. That means that overall team momentum can carry others to a certain point. Last Sunday, I would say that Tipp had about 12 players who were close to or at top form. That was reflected in their clinical finishing, their low error count, their clean handling and striking. Little things that supporters may take for granted, but which requires massive concentration levels and unerring application. They had leaders all over the field. The only negative was their wide count of 8 before the break. If anything, it was Kilkenny that were uncharacteristically off colour – especially in their ball handling. That was as much to do with the huge pressure that was being forced on them by Tipp’s insatiable work rate all over the field. Tipp scored 13 points from play in that first 37 minutes, compared to 6 from Kilkenny. On that basis alone, Tipp were hugely deserving winners. For Kilkenny, only Eoin Murphy could say he played to his ability, although Padraig Walsh, Richie Hogan, TJ Reid and Walter Walsh all battled gamely throughout.
Kilkenny placed Richie Hogan on the 40 with a view to unsettling Ronan Maher. Unfortunately for them, the Thurles Sars man was equal to the challenge. Not only did he dominate the aerial exchanges, but he launched several attacks with pin point deliveries. Also, Tipp’s swarm defending all over the field never allowed Kilkenny play Hogan into the game. That said, he still created the breakthrough for Kevin Kelly’s goal and scored a cracker himself later on in the game.
This was probably the most important reason for Tipp’s success. Their half back line was completely dominant, Brendan Maher dictated midfield, but more critically their Half forward line (Dan McCormack and Bonner Maher especially) stifled the Kilkenny half back line. That cut out the supply lines to the Kilkenny inside forwards who were working off hard earned frees to keep them in the game.
2- 15 from your inside forward line is a phenomenal return from play in an All-Ireland final. While the foundations were laid out the field, it still takes something special to reach those levels of performance. The Kilkenny inside backs were on a hiding to nothing and were exposed by the quality of Tipp’s delivery, but also by the pace, skill and movement of the Tipp inside forwards. On any other day, John McGrath or Bubbles o’ Dwyer would go close to the Man of the Match award, but Seamie Callanan’s 9 points from play (along with 4 placed balls for good measure) is arguably the greatest contribution by one man in an All-Ireland final, certainly in the modern era.
Tipp could afford to bring on 5 subs and call ashore hugely influential players such as Dan McCormack, Seamus Kennedy, Michael Cahill and Noel McGrath. Jason Forde in particular made some telling contributions, including 2 excellent points at vital stages. All of the subs kept the momentum with Tipp. Kilkenny supporters were unusually critical of Brian Cody’s (lack of) use of their subs after the match. Over 50 minutes had elapsed before Robert Lennon and then Lester Ryan were introduced to the fray. At that point, it could be argued that the damage had been done and Kilkenny were chasing a losing battle. While it can certainly be argued that Kilkenny don’t have the strength in depth of former years, surely the likes of Jackie Tyrell, Johnjo Farrell, John Power could have been introduced to freshen things up, especially when the game was still in the melting pot with 20 minutes to go if not sooner.
Tipp can rightly celebrate their great achievement, not forgetting their minors’ victory also. They proved, when the need was greatest, that were the best hurling team in the country in 2016. Many believe that this defeat may signal the end of Kilkenny’s era of domination. How often have we heard that before?!! While they certainly aren’t the force they once were, they will come back from this defeat as hungry as ever. Roll on 2017!!
Ollie Moran Sportstalk Columnist
Ollie Moran BA Financial Services, QFA, CFP®
Ollie Moran Financial Services Limited
Address – Unit 5C, Whitethorns, Castletroy, Limerick
Office: 061 337578
Fax: 061 201578
Mobile: 087 6830000
Follow Ollie on twitter https://twitter.com/olmorfs
Austin Gleeson – Sportstalk 20 Questions Q. 1,Who is the best person you follow on Twitter? Ans. 1. Shane Lowry- great buzz and a character. Q. 2, What was your happiest memory in sport? Ans. 2....
This time last week I couldn’t see Kilkenny being bet in the Hurling All-Ireland. Their recent record in All-Ireland finals was second to none and they had such a wealth of experience in winning tight...
“I told you! I told you they’d be a different beast today.” I still remember Martin “Gorta” Comerford saying those words to the rest of the subs as we watched on in the 2010...
If you somehow missed Sundays epic All-Ireland hurling final between Kilkenny and Tipperary, then look no further. See the highlights here.
Thanks to Orla Boyle for Tweet capturing moment! The lucky 82+ thousand that witnessed Tipperary dethrone Kilkenny yesterday will also remember the emotions young Sibeal Ni Chasaide stirred within...
Kilkenny face Tipperary in this years All-Ireland Hurling final. This video will get you in the mood for the match!!
Like two big gun slingers, Kilkenny and Tipp roll into town in this year’s All-Ireland Final for what is sure to be the ultimate shoot-out. Leaving aside any inter-county bias, this is the final that...
Tonight 15 players from Kilkenny and Tipperary will be given the honour of been named as the starting line up for the much anticipated All Ireland Hurling final. Although the Tipperary line up is all but...