Hogan stars as Cats win league battle

From the GAA.ie  web site

Sunday, May 3

Richie Hogan scored 1-10 as Kilkenny collected a 14th Allianz National Hurling League title in a gripping Semple Stadium decider against Tipperary on Sunday, which they won by 2-26 to 4-17.

The Cats came from eight points down to force extra-time in Thurles and finished with a flourish to nail a first National League title since 2006 with three points to spare.

Remarkably, Hogan was scoreless in the first half in front of 17,087 spectators but the Danesfort star helped himself to 1-7 in the second half and added three points in the second period of extra-time.

Aidan Fogarty also turned in more than a useful attacking performance for the Leinster and All-Ireland champions as he chipped in with a 1-5 haul.

In a gripping decider, the best league final since the Croke Park cliff-hanger between the two sides in 2003, Séamus Callanan bagged 1-7 for Tipp and teen sensation Noel McGrath added 1-5.

Two minutes after half-time, Callanan’s goal opened up a 3-7 to 0-8 lead for Tipperary but Brian Cody’s all-conquering stars overcame some stiff obstacles to force their way back into contention.

Kilkenny suffered a severe injury blow after just 11 minutes when Brian Hogan was stretchered off and the winners also lost the services of Martin Comerford and Henry Shefflin to yellow cards.

Comerford was just a minute on the field after replacing Hogan when he was dismissed while Shefflin was ordered off seven minutes after half-time.

In addition, Tipp’s Hugh Maloney and Kilkenny pair Eddie Brennan and Tommy Walsh can also count themselves fortunate not to have been yellow-carded in the final competitive hurling fixture played under the experimental rules in operation during the league campaign.

Tipp, playing with a strong breeze, got off to the best possible start with two goals inside the first nine minutes as James Woodlock booted home from close range in the 4th minute before John O’Brien finished clinically five minutes later.

Those strikes helped Tipp to lead by 2-7 to 0-8 at half-time and they got off to the best possible start to the second half within two minutes when Callanan collected a Lar Corbett pass and drilled home a fine goal at the Killinan End.

Eight points clear, Tipp had a solid platform but just a minute later, Hogan netted with the goal allowed to stand despite home protests that the Kilkenny forward had taken too many steps.

Aidan Fogarty’s 50th-minute goal hauled Kilkenny right back into contention as the Emeralds corner forward finished clinically past Brendan Cummins and with 20 minutes remaining, the scene was set for a gripping finish.

Lesser teams have crumbled in the face of the Kilkenny juggernaut but Tipp, who lost by 17 points against the same opposition at Nowlan Park just six weeks ago, hung in grimly until the finish and had to come from behind to force extra-time.

Fogarty levelled things up with a minute remaining and when Hogan pointed a free a minute into stoppage time, Kilkenny appeared to have clinched the tie in regulation time.

But Tipperary had other ideas and after James Ryall was penalised for holding onto the sliotar on the ground, former All-Ireland minor medallist Noel McGrath stepped forward to tie the full-time scores at 3-14 to 2-17.

Tipperary: B Cummins (0-1f); P Stapleton, P Curran, C O’Brien; Pádraic Maher, D Fanning, S Maher; T Stapleton, S McGrath (0-2); L Corbett, S Callanan (1-7, 0-7f), J Woodlock (1-1); N McGrath (1-5, 1f), M Webster, J O’Brien (1-1).

Subs: B Maher for Fanning (12), H Maloney for S Maher (14), B Dunne for Maloney (58), S Hennessy for Woodlock (62), D Fitzgerald for Stapleton (70), Patrick Maher for Webster (80), E Buckley for Pádraic Maher (80).

Kilkenny: PJ Ryan; M Kavanagh, JJ Delaney, J Tyrrell; T Walsh, B Hogan, J Ryall; J Tennyson, M Rice; R Hogan (1-10, 0-7f), H Shefflin (0-4, 1f, 1 65), E Larkin (0-1); E Brennan (0-2), TJ Reid (0-4, 1 sl), A Fogarty (1-5).

Subs: M Comerford for Hogan (11), M Grace for Comerford (13), J ‘Cha’ Fitzpatrick for Shefflin (42), S Cummins for Kavanagh (78).

Referee: J Sexton (Cork).

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Kilkenny 2-26 Tipperary 4-17 (AET)

From the RTE.ie  web site

Sunday, 3 May 2009 20:00

Richie Hogan was Kilkenny’s scoring ace at the Cats beat Tipperary by three points after extra-time at Semple Stadium to win the Allianz NHL Division One title.

Tipp led for the majority of this absorbing game but faded in extra-time after the two teams finished locked on 2-17 to 3-14 after 70 minutes.

James Woodlock, John O’Brien, Seamus Callanan and Noel McGrath hit the Tipp goals, while Hogan, who finished with a personal tally of 1-10, and Aidan Fogarty found the net for Kilkenny.

Tipp had received a 17-point beating from Kilkenny in March, and Liam Sheedy’s men knew a good start would vital if they were to avoid a similar fate.

Kilkenny were first on the scoreboard, however, with Henry Shefflin finding his range inside the opening 28 seconds. The Ballyhale Shamrocks clubman added another Tipp got their first goal.

Kilkenny wing-back James Ryall was dispossessed inside his own parallelogram and Woodlock was on hand to kick the sliotar past the helpless PJ Ryan. Tipp midfielder Shane McGrath used a bit of improvisation to land his side’s first point before a brilliant diagonal ball from him found O’Brien who rifled to the net to put them five points ahead after just seven minutes.

And things really seemed to be going the Munster side’s way when Kilkenny centre-back Brian Hogan was forced to leave the field with a shoulder injury.

The match was played at Championship pace, with plenty of niggle and hard-hitting. And both sides had a man yellow-carded when Tipp’s Declan Fanning and Kilkenny’s Martin Comerford were punished for manhandling each other.

Seamus Callanan was performing well at centre-forward for Tipp and his huge wind-assisted point from a free behind his own 65 metre line helped ensure the defending league champions led by 2-07 to 0-08 at the break.

But the Cats would have closer had Brendan Cummins not pulled off an amazing save at full-stretch to deny Shefflin just before the short whistle. While they may have been unlucky with that incident, they were fortunate attacker Eddie Brennan did not to see yellow or even red when he appeared to elbow one of his opponents.

Everyone expected Kilkenny to come out strongly in the second half, but it was Tipp who scored first after the resumption as Callanan’s low shot after taking a handpass from the excellent Lar Corbett evaded Ryan’s stick and went into the corner of the net.

But Kilkenny delivered the perfect response when moments later Hogan blasted past Tipp goalkeeper Brendan Cummins from an acute angle to cancel out Callanan’s effort.

A handpass from Shefflin set up Hogan and it would prove to be the Kilkenny captain’s last good act as he was yellow-carded and had to leave the field on 41 minutes after he came in late and high on Shane McGrath.

Hogan assumed the free-taking responsibilities, and also contributed a brilliant point from play in the 48th minute he split the posts with a shot straight off his hurl.

And two minutes later Kilkenny grabbed their second goal when Fogarty sent a rasping shot across the bows of Cummins and into the corner of the net.

The All-Ireland champions should lost the services of Tommy Walsh in the 56th minute when he somehow avoided censure for throwing his hurl at John O’Brien as the Tipperary captain was in the process of scoring a point.

It took Kilkenny until the 68th to draw level, with Fogarty the man to hit the target after good work from Michael Grace along the end line.

Kilkenny looked to have clinched the game when Hogan landed a fantastic free from the 65 metre line out at the right sideline, but Noel McGrath equalised for Tipp with a free of his own after Ryall had been guilty if over-carrying.

Michael Kavanagh became the third Kilkenny man to see yellow eight minutes into the first-half of extra time. A minute later Tipp almost got their fourth goal when Micheál Webster’s shot got past Ryan but was cleared off the line.

But Tipp would get that fourth goal before the extra-time switch around when Corbett passed to Noel McGrath who buried the sliotar into the back of the net.

There were many highlights in this game, and one came two minutes after the restart when TJ Reid converted a sideline cut from a huge distance out. Three more points from Hogan and one from Eoin Larkin had Kilkenny a goal ahead heading into injury time.

Brendan Cummins ventured up the pitch to try and convert a 25 metre free, but he blazed over the bar and Tipp’s chances of retaining their title had gone.

There was just enough time for another special moment, however, as Eddie Brennan wrapped up the scoring with a monster drive from fully 100 yards. 

Cody and Sheedy looking ahead

http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/sport/2009/0504/1224245891505.html  

SEÁN MORAN

FOR SOMEONE who is often accused of discerning competitiveness where none has existed during a match, Kilkenny manager Brian Cody couldn’t be faulted in his enthusiasm after yesterday’s helter-skelter NHL final ended with extra-time having just about produced a winner.

"It was a great game. It must have been. It was a serious game of hurling, it was full of everything, there was yellow cards, fellas coming off and going on. It was really intense stuff, like championship stuff. Tipperary were excellent and threatened to do away with us several times, I suppose, but we stuck at it and it was rewarded at the end, but it was serious, serious hurling."

It also posed serious challenges for the All-Ireland champions, not least the need to survive without a gallery of first-choice players.

All Stars full back Noel Hickey and centrefielders James Fitzpatrick and Derek Lyng were missing. Centre back Brian Hogan left with a suspected broken collar bone just minutes into the match and shortly into the second half captain Henry Shefflin received a yellow card.

"Yeah, it was a serious test for the players out there. We were obviously short players that are considered to be regulars, including Brian Hogan through injury and that is a concern for us. Martin Comerford did not put a foot wrong in the game, I suppose, but he didn’t get a chance.

"It was that kind of game. It had all kinds of drama in it. I constantly talk about the panel and the panel stood up today and were counted several times. We won the thing and that was what it was all about at the end of the day."

The latest success for the team that dominated hurling this decade had the added distinction of being well contested and genuinely demanding for the county that this summer seeks a record-equalling fourth successive All-Ireland.

"You know my feelings on the ones with big margins," said Cody, "they’re not realistic. This was a final so it was up for grabs and everyone wanted to win it.

"There was no sort of ambiguity about preparation or mindset in the whole thing so these are the games that everyone wants to play in and the satisfaction is very, very definite. People will say that it’s only the league but the league is a great competition.

"The league is very important and has been very, very good to us and we’ve been good to the league as well. It’s the only competition you can win at this stage of the year and it’s a big one.

"Obviously, now we’ll look at the championship and prepare for the Leinster Championship, but we wanted to win today and thanks be to God we did."

For his Tipperary counterpart, the giddy euphoria that greeted the end of a vibrant encounter couldn’t hide the reality that a match, which could have ended in a famous victory, had slipped away.

"These guys have a lot of hurling done over the last two years. All you can do is ask them to try and be the best they can be every day. There’ll be good days and bad, highs and lows.

"It was surreal out there – people almost saying ‘well done’ but at the end of the day we’re after losing a league final.

"We’re very disappointed at that and maybe we were unlucky, although there were chances at both ends. After getting the goal to put us 16-8 up, about 30 seconds later it’s back to 16-11 and that was probably a critical period. In fairness to both teams they’re amateurs and there were lads dropping at 90, 95 minutes.

"These guys have to get up and go to work on Tuesday morning and it would be tomorrow only for the bank holiday.

"Championships a different ball game, lads. We went up in 2003 and lost a rip-roaring match to Kilkenny by a point and four weeks later we were dumped out of the Munster championship by Clare. So let’s not anyone get carried away."

A championship match with oldest rivals Cork awaits at the end of the month, but unlike the exhibition-style league final of six years ago, yesterday’s contained enough jagged edges to be useful preparation for the summer.

"There was good intensity, in fairness, but we got a very good start. I want to pay tribute to the players. Don’t ever question their character. I thought the amount of work they got through when the match was a match – they never let Kilkenny settle on the ball. As a group I would have to say that every one of them left everything out on the field.

"That’s all you can ask for. We’ll get ourselves back in training on Tuesday night and it’s all systems go for championship."

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