Superb Tipperary display ends Kilkenny dominance as Liam MacCarthy heads to the Premier County

Michael Ryan's men with one of the best second half performances in an All-Ireland final in recent memory

BY Robbie Dunne 17:09 Sunday 4 September 2016, 17:09 4 Sep 2016

Tipperary outclassed their opponents with one of the finest displays of hurling in recent memory, as they scored 2-15 in the second half to break Kilkenny hearts and end their hopes of a three in a row. For the first time since 2010, Tipperary are the All-Ireland hurling champions.

The first half certainly had the "intensity" that had been talked about for the preceding two weeks before the game, but more on the attacking side of things than defensively. 

Kilkenny and Tipperary exchanged scores at a frightening rate once Seamus Callanan got off the mark. Brian Cody's side, in search of their third successive All-Ireland hurling title, responded with three scores of their own before Bubbles O'Dwyer landed an expertly struck sideline cut that cut through the Croke Park breeze and pulled Tipp to within one after seven minutes.

Image: ©INPHO/James Crombie

With Tipperary falling behind after scoring the first point of the game, they could only ever get level with the Cats in the first 25 before Seamus Callanan changed that with an ankle-breaking turn on his marker, striking sweetly over the bar to give his side the lead at 0-10 to 0-09. 

It wouldn't be long before the sides were level yet again, as Cillian Buckley went up the field and pointed to bring the sides level on the scoreboard for the eighth time.

It would take just two more minutes before Dan McCormack and TJ Reid traded scores, giving an idea of the attacking prowess that both sides had at their disposal. Forget about defending - this was turning into a shootout for the ages.

TJ Reid moved inside to full-forward with a few minutes remaining in the half, but he didn't stray from his free-taking responsibility. With three minutes to go, he drew Kilkenny back level with his sixth and Kilkenny's 12th point of the afternoon after Bonnar Maher had put a little daylight between the sides.

Tipperary would have the last laugh, however, as Callanan and and Bubbles O'Dwyer pushed Michael Ryan's side ahead by two as the referee blew the whistle that would draw the first half to a close with the scoreboard reading 0-14 to 0-12.

Image: ©INPHO/James Crombie

Callanan opened the scoring with a free to give Tipperary the perfect start to the second half, and Kilkenny found themselves down by three for the first time in the contest.

Two pointed frees from TJ Reid followed by a goal that was bundled into the back of the net by Kevin Kelly, and Tipperary were left with an all too familiar feeling heading into the last 20 minutes of play.

Points from Callanan, yet again, and substitute Jason Forde eliminated the deficit yet again, and the sides were level with absolutely everything to play for after 46 minutes.

There was to be another twist still, as Callanan pointed from play before Bubbles rifled a shot low and beyond Eoin Murphy to give Tipperary a four point lead. This was a severe litmus test that Kilkenny were standing in front of.

Tipperary added another score, with Bonnar Maher pointing, before TJ Reid restored the deficit to four points. That was as close as Kilkenny would get however, because Callanan was at it again before John McGrath pushed them further out in front.

Image:  ©INPHO/Donall Farmer

Kilkenny were on the ropes, the tension palpable and Michael Ryan's side knew it. It was 1-23 to 1-16 with 15 to go and on 60 minutes, it seemed the writing was on the wall as the points were becoming increasingly easy for Tipperary.

It was as good as written in stone when John McGrath found himself one-on-one with Eoin Murphy, and he made no mistake as he rattled the back of the net to give Tipp a nine point lead with 10 minutes to play.

In typical Kilkenny fashion, the Cats responded; Richie Hogan whipped on the sliotar as it rifled to the back of Tipperary's net as Kilkenny tried to break Tipperary's resistance. They were not to be outdone, however, as Michael Ryan's men went into counter-attack mode, picking them off with the usual suspects pointing for fun as the seconds ticked by.

As the whistle blew, it was Tipperary 2-29 to Kilkenny's 2-20, and Kilkenny and Brian Cody's hopes of a three in a row were ended.

He could have few complaints, however. Seamus Callanan finished the day with 13 points with a truly memorable performance, and Kilkenny were beaten by a team playing superior hurling.

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