Bord Gais Under 21 All Ireland Tipperary v Kilkenny Match Reports

Young Cats wrap up the perfect year

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Kilkenny 2-13 Tipperary 0-15
By Brendan Larkin

KILKENNY became the first county in the history of the GAA to win four All-Ireland hurling titles in the one year when their Under-21 side beat Tipperary in a magnificent Bord Gais final at Croke Park yesterday.

On the balance of play they just about deserved the grand slam, but Tipperary can take a lot of positives from a game that hung on a knife edge after the Munster champions had whittled down a six point half-time deficit to just two with minutes to go.

Indeed the mood in the Tipperary camp at the final whistle was one of frustration at some of the refereeing decisions, but while no one was prepared to go on the record, it was clear they were very unhappy with James Owens’ decision to award Kilkenny a free out after Patrick Maher had a couple of defenders hanging off him as he made his way towards goal.

Earlier the Wexford official had penalised substitute John Ryan – who had won a great ball after chasing his man half the length of the field
– only to have a free awarded against him which Richie Hogan pointed.

However in the final analysis the old adage of goals winning matches again rang true. Kilkenny grabbed a brace from the hugely impressive Matthew Ruth and they were grateful to their own goalkeeper Colin McGrath who kept his goal intact with a couple of superb saves.

Kilkenny had the opening score after just 20 seconds when Ruth pointed but it was Tipp who made the early running. Hurling with tremendous determination, they drew level after a minute when Shane Bourke pointed, and then stormed into a 0-3 to 0-1 lead by the fifth minute.

Tipp’s early dominance was reflected, not alone on the scoreboard but throughout the field, and it took an excellent save by Kilkenny ‘keeper Colin McGrath to deny Patrick Maher a goal.

The pace of the game was electrifying and the skill factor superb and it made for a great contest between two hugely talented sides despite the greasy underfoot conditions from the persistent drizzle which fell.

Despite their early dominance Tipp weren’t defending very well. Corner forward Ruth, who regularly inter-changed with wing forward TJ Reid, tied the game with two points in quick succession before the potency of the Kilkenny attack was seen to great effect.

Great work by Reid set up Ruth for a goal in the 15th minute and they should have had another a minute later when Nicky Cleere was left one on one with the Tipp goalkeeper but he delayed his shot and the chance was lost.

The pressure on the Tipp defence was enormous and only great play by Padraig Maher and Thomas Stapleton prevented them from falling further behind.

However, the cracks were appearing and after Kilkenny eased 1-7 to 0-5 in front, they again found the Tipp net for a rather fortuitous goal in the 30th minute. It came following a huge free by centre back Paddy Hogan from his own half back line and the sliothar broke to his brother Richie who put Ruth in.

Despite the best efforts of Tipp ‘keeper Mathew Ryan to keep Ruth’s shot out, he only succeeded in hitting it off the corner forward and the ball trickled over the line which helped his side into a comfortable 2-7 to
0-7 half time lead.

There was a massive improvement in Tipperary on the changeover, particularly in defence where full back Padraig Maher and corner back Kevin Maher were superb, and the introduction of John O’Keeffe helped to steady the ship still further.

Like Kilkenny had done in the opening half, Tipp began to win primary possession from the air, and with Pa Bourke unerring from play and frees, they had the deficit down to a goal 10 minutes into the second half.

Kilkenny had drifted out of the game with little or no return from either of their county seniors, TJ Reid and Richie Hogan, apart from a point by the latter in the 42nd minute, and with Tipperary doing all the hurling, the dream of the grand slam was beginning to look like just that, a dream.

With the Kilkenny forwards unable to make any impression, Tipp poured forward and the Leinster champions were grateful for some superb defending by full back Kieran Joyce and his left corner colleague Eoin O’Shea.

At the end of the third quarter Kilkenny held a four point lead thanks to an excellent point by the busy John Mulhall, now operating out on the 40, but they were left off the hook in the 49th minute by a dreadful miss by Tipp’s Seamus Callinan& who, unmarked inside the Kilkenny defence and with only the goalkeeper to beat, failed to strike the sliotar cleanly giving Colin McGrath little difficulty in saving the shot.

Undeterred, Tipp came again and as the tension mounted and the clock counted down, they reduced the deficit to two points with three minutes of normal time left.

Then came the real talking point. Patrick Maher won possession on the Kilkenny 20 metre line and headed for goal, but with at least two defenders hanging off him, the referee penalised him for over-carrying and from that let-off, TJ Reid and Colin Fennelly ensured it was going to be Kilkenny’s day with a point each.

Scorers for Kilkenny: M Ruth 2-2; R Hogan 0-5 (f); TJ Reid, J Mulhall
0-2 each; N Cleere, N Walsh 0-1 each.

Tipperary: P Bourke 0-8 (0-7f); G Ryan 0-3; S Bourke, K Lanigan, S Callinan, B Maher 0-1 each.

KILKENNY: C McGrath; P Murphy, K Joyce, E O’Shea; L Ryan, P Hogan, N Prendergast; J Dowling, N Walsh; C Fennelly, N Cleere, TJ Reid; M Ruth, J Mulhall, R Hogan.

Subs: JJ Farrell for Cleere (35); J Maher for Dowling (52); M Bergin for Farrell (60).

TIPPERARY: M Ryan; M Cahill, Padraig Maher, K Maher; K Lanigan, T Stapleton, B Maher; G Ryan; S Hennessy; Patrick Maher, S Callinan, T McGrath; P Bourke, M O’Meara, S Bourke.

Subs: J O’Keeffe for Lanigan (31); D O’Hanlon for O’Meara (38); J Ivors for S Bourke (46); J Ryan for T McGrath (49).

Referee: J Owens (Wexford).

Young guns dig deep for Kilkenny’s fab four Kilkenny 2-13 Tipperary 0-15 Monday September 15 2008

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World domination, Kilkenny style.

The task of completing the first ever hurling championship Grand Slam fell to their U-21s who held their nerve through a difficult second-half to edge out Tipperary in the Bord Gais All-Ireland final at Croke Park yesterday.

Late points by TJ Reid and Richie Hogan secured victory, leaving Kilkenny parked proudly at the peak of the senior, U-21, minor and intermediate piles at the end of what has been a remarkable season.
Tipperary did their best in the first, third and fourth quarters to wreck Kilkenny’s four-timer but a poor second quarter, which they lost by 2-3 to 0-3, cost them dearly.

It left them trailing by 2-7 to 0-5 after 31 minutes and while they pared back two points before the half-time break, they were still facing a mighty challenge. To their credit, their response was defiant and effective, even if they did rely too much on the free-taking accuracy of Pa Bourke who potted eight points.

Kilkenny’s lead was down to two points when Bourke pointed for the eighth time in the 58th minute and a minute later came an incident which proved a major talking point. Tipperary wing-forward Patrick Maher burst into the Kilkenny square and went to ground as defenders converged on him.

Awarded

Was he fouled? No, said referee James Owens who awarded a free out, presumably for over-carrying. It was a harsh call and video re-runs confirmed that Tipperary had grounds for grievance that they weren’t awarded a penalty.

Tipp manager Declan Carr adopted a rather philosophical approach, describing it as one of those decisions that can go either way.

"In my view, it was a penalty but we didn’t get it and that’s all that counts," said Carr, showing an admirable level of restraint not usually associated with team managers in similar situations.

He identified Tipperary’s failure to score a goal as a particularly significant factor but was understandably proud of the manner in which his team battled back after running into all sorts of trouble just before half-time.

The goal drought was due in a large part to a solid Kilkenny defence where Kieran Joyce and Paddy Hogan were solid anchors down the centre.
Joyce turned in a superb performance while goalkeeper Colin McGrath also did extremely well.

Niall Walsh hurled well at midfield while Matthew Ruth and TJ Reid did most of the damage in attack. Ruth scored 2-2 from play in the first half, slamming home the goals in the 16th and 30th minutes, while Reid had a direct involvement in 1-3 in the first 22 minutes.

Tipperary tightened up considerably in the second half, allowing Ruth, Reid and indeed the rest of the Kilkenny forwards very little room.
Tipperary had an excellent goal chance in the 49th minute but senior star Seamus Callinan got no power into his ground stroke close to goal.

Just as Galway minors discovered a week earlier, it’s very difficult to beat Kilkenny via the point route only. And with so much at stake for Kilkenny, they were always going to be exceptionally hard to wear down.

Kilkenny manager Michael Walsh admitted that the responsibility of completing the four-timer added to the pressures for his team so his delight at the manner in which they dealt with Tipp’s second-half storm was understandable.

"All-Irelands are won in the last 10 minutes and I thought the lads were tremendous in that period.

"We lost our shape a little earlier on but we dug back in. There was a lot of weight on these lads’ shoulders but they carried it well," said Walsh.

Declan Carr was disappointed with the amount of ball Kilkenny were allowed to win in the air, especially in the first half but once that was sorted out, his battling youngsters worked their way back into contention and might have completed the recovery if that controversial penalty decision had gone their way.

So then, Kilkenny have entered new territory and since the U-21 grade may be replaced by U-20 next year, it’s possible that no county will ever repeat this season’s achievement.

It marked the end of a great week for TJ Reid who scored 0-4 for the seniors against Waterford before making a major contribution yesterday.

So who’s the better manager, Brian Cody or Michael Walsh?

A coy smile and a slice of diplomacy. "They’re both good," answered Reid. Indeed.

Scorers — Kilkenny: M Ruth 2-2; R Hogan 0-6f; TJ Reid, J Mulhall 0-2 each; N Walsh 0-1. Tipperary: P Bourke 0-8f; G Ryan 0-3; S Bourke, K Lanigan, S Callinan, B Maher 0-1 each.

Kilkenny — C McGrath 8; P Murphy 7, K Joyce 9, E O’Shea 7; L Ryan 7, P Hogan 8, N Prendergast 7; J Dowling 6, N Walsh 7; C Fennelly 7, J Mulhall 7, TJ Reid 8; M Ruth 8, N Cleere 6, R Hogan 7. Subs: JJ Farrell
6 for Cleere (36), J Maher 6 for Dowling (54), M Bergin 6 for Farrell (61).

Tipperary — M Ryan 7; M Cahill 7, P Maher 8, K Maher 6; K Lanigan 6, T Stapleton 7, B Maher 7; G Ryan 8, S Hennessy 7; P Maher 7, S Callinan 7, T McGrath 6; P Bourke 7, M O’Meara 6, S Bourke 6. Subs: J O’Keeffe 7 for Lanigan (32), D O’Hanlon 6 for O’Meara (39), P Ivors 6 for S Bourke (48), J Ryan 6 for McGrath (50).

Ref — J Owens (Wexford).

Walsh toasts ‘hurling history’

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By Brendan Larkin
A DIFFERENT day but the same old story for Kilkenny.

The afternoon began with the usual high expectations and ended with another figure in black and amber ambling up the steps of the Hogan Stand to collect a trophy and address the masses with customary nonchalance.

Admittedly, yesterday’s Bord Gais sponsored U-21 hurling decider lacked the high octane intensity of its senior equivalent a week earlier but this victory will warm most Kilkenny hearts as it completed hurling’s first Grand Slam of titles. It is fitting that the accolade goes to a county intent not on reliving history but creating it.

"Now that we’ve won, I can honestly say it’s a wonderful feeling to be part of history. I’m so delighted for those lads in the dressing room for the part they played in it," admitted Kilkenny coach Michael Walsh, a man who knows all about the pressures of All-Ireland final day following an illustrious goalkeeping career.

But he insisted the success of the intermediates, minors and seniors, which fired the public’s interest in this game, was an unwelcome distraction to his side’s preparations. "I said in the lead up to the game that the Grand Slam was not talked about among ourselves or the players, it was the people around the county who were playing that up."

The match appeared to be chugging along on expected form lines in the first half with Matt Ruth’s two goals helping Kilkenny to a six points interval lead and the Tipperary defence in disarray.

But Walsh has been around this game long enough to know a Premier fight-back was inevitable.

He reasoned: "A six point lead at half time should have been a bit more because in hurling it’s nothing, just two pucks of a ball. I knew Tipp would come back strongly at us in the second half. They are a very good side and weren’t going to go down without a fight."

Walsh was right. As predicted Declan Carr’s side were a new force on the changeover. Tipp dominated play and scoring in the second half while their defence restricted Kilkenny to just two points over 25 minutes.

Crucially though Seamus Callinan failed to convert when one and one with goalkeeper Colin McGrath – which would have given his side the lead at a crucial stage. However TJ Reid who was well marked by a succession of Tipp defenders, came up with a great point to ease the pressure and Colin Fennelly won a free out near the touchline late in the game which Richie Hogan pointed to give his side their 11th title in the grade.

The manager agreed it was a tense second half on the sideline: "We had our backs to the wall for long periods in that second half and were forced to defend for most of it. Thankfully the character of our team shone through, but it was nerve wrecking watching it from the side line.
Maybe it weighed heavily on the shoulders of some of our players as the winning post came into view, but that’s an excellent Tipperary side who hurled extremely well out there and many of those players will figure on their senior team in the future. We went out of the game for most of the second half but in the last 10 minutes when you win All-Irelands you have to get the scores and we got them."

He added: "While it was essentially a team victory I’m delighted for Mathew Ruth who doesn’t always get the recognition he deserves. Our goalkeeper Colin McGrath made a number of vital saves to keep us in the game when Tipp came back at us. We really had to dig this out and that makes it all the sweeter when you do that."

TJ Reid described the win as the culmination of a magnificent inter-county season which sees him with two All-Ireland hurling medals in the space of a week.

"It’s a brilliant feeling right now to be in this position, and I’m really going to enjoy it because it may never come around again," said the jubilant Ballyhale Shamrocks man.

"After a shaky start we began to hurl really well and the goal just before half time couldn’t have come at a better time.

"I don’t know what happened us in the second half but we drifted out of the game completely and Tipp came back. Thankfully our defence stood tall and weathered the storm, and I’m absolutely delighted to be part of a great side."

Down the corridor Tipperary manager Declan Carr put a brave face on the result. Despite suggestions from some observers that Patrick Maher have been awarded a penalty in the final moments the Premier boss felt Kilkenny were the better team over the hour

"We allowed Kilkenny too much freedom to win ball from the air. It was only when we got it on the ground that we hurled," he said of the opening half.

"Our defence tightened up considerably in the second half but as has often been said, goals win matches and we didn’t get any. Had Seamus
(Callinan) goaled when he got the chance, the game might have turned out differently.

"Kilkenny’s second goal just before half time was really the decisive score. It was a real killer blow and it had us chasing the game for most of the second half but we came up that bit short.

"The call for the penalty was touch and go. Considering the controversy we were involved in earlier in the season, sometimes those decisions go with you, other times they don’t. In my view it was a penalty but sport is like that. It didn’t go our way today but I’ve no complaints."

The game at a glance
Monday September 15 2008

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Man of the match

Kieran Joyce (Kilkenny)

His opposite number, Tipperary full-back Padraig Maher, also did extremely well but Joyce’s second-half performance during which he protected the Kilkenny goal with defiant authority was most impressive.

Turning point

Tipperary centre-forward Seamus Callinan was presented with an excellent goal opportunity in the 49th minute but miscued and his weak ground shot was easily smothered. A goal would have cut Kilkenny’s lead to a single point at a time when Tipp’s recovery drive was in full flow.

Talking point

Should Tipperary wing-forward, Patrick Maher have been awarded a penalty right at the end? The referee penalised him for over-carrying, which looked extremely harsh both in real time and in subsequent video reviews.

Ref watch

James Owens’ decision to side with the defence rather than the attack in the late penalty incident involving Tipperary’s Maher was the most questionable decision made by the Wexford man, who had done well prior to that.

They said:

Michael Walsh (Kilkenny manager)

"There was an awful lot of weight on these lads’ shoulders but they carried it well. All-Irelands are won in the last 10 minutes and they stood up well to huge Tipperary pressure. We had lost our shape earlier on in the half but we finished well."

Declan Carr (Tipperary manager)

"You need a goal to win a game and we didn’t get it. Kilkenny’s second goal just before half-time was a real killer and left us with an awful lot to do. We fought back well but we needed more scores from play. As for the penalty call, it was touch and go. Some days you get them and some days you don’t."

Match statistics

Wides: Kilkenny 11 (7); Tipperary 6 (5).

Frees: Kilkenny 12 (4); Tipperary 13 (6).

Yellow cards: Kilkenny 2 (J Mulhall 31, M Cahill 47); Tipperary 1 (T McGrath 32).

Red cards: Kilkenny 0; Tipperary 0.

Attendance: 18,727.

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