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It’s Division 1 hurling league final day in Nowlan Park as Kilkenny face Tipperary.

We’re going to follow it all the way.

Send us your thoughts and comments on all the action.

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RESULT: Kilkenny 2-17 Tipperary 0-20

Hello and welcome to this afternoon’s GAA action as Nowlan Park is the stage for Kilkenny and Tipperary going toe to toe in a national hurling final. There’s nothing unusual about this pairing contesting marquee deciders and we’re hopeful of getting another cracking encounter today.

Neither side has been afraid to shake things up after their league semi-final victories. Tipperary thumped Dublin but still make five alterations from that game.

The two most eye-catching inclusions are Darren Gleeson getting the nod to start in goal and 26 year-old Kieran Bergin making his inter county debut at wing-back. Killenaule player Bergin has been based in New York and San Francisco in recent years and was actually a member of the Tipperary football squad earlier this season.

Paul Curran, Conor O’Brien and Eoin Kelly all come back into the team as well with the injured Paddy Stapleton, Brendan Cummins, Jason Forde, Pa Bourke and Donagh Maher are the players to lose out.

TIPPERARY: Darren Gleeson (Portroe); Michael Cahill (Thurles Sarsfields), Conor O’Mahony (Newport), Paul Curran (Mullinahone); Kieran Bergin (Killenaule), Pádraic Maher (Thurles Sarsfields), Conor O’Brien (Eiré Og Anacarty Donohill); Brendan Maher (Borrisoleigh); Shane McGrath (Ballinahinch); Seamus Callanan (Drom and Inch), Lar Corbett (Thurles Sarsfields), Patrick Maher (Lorrha-Dorrha); Shane Bourke (JK Brackens), Eoin Kelly (Mullinahone) Noel McGrath (Loughmore Castleiney).

Kilkenny have Richie Power and Walter Walsh unavailable to them due to rib and elbow injuries respectively. Their absence means Michael Fennelly comes into midfield, while Cillian Buckley also starts. In addition, Michael Rice moves from midfield to centre forward.

KILKENNY: Eoin Murphy (Glenmore); Paul Murphy (Danesfort), JJ Delaney (Fenians), Jackie Tyrrell (James Stephens); Tommy Walsh (Tullaroan), Brian Hogan (O’Loughlin Gaels), Kieran Joyce (Rower-Inistioge); Lester Ryan (Clara), Michael Fennelly (Ballyhale Shamrocks); Cillian Buckley (Dicksboro), Michael Rice (Carrickshock,) Eoin Larkin (James Stephens); Colin Fennelly (Ballyhale Shamrocks), Richie Hogan (Danesfort), Aidan Fogarty (Emeralds).

The injured Kilkenny trio during their league semi-final win over Galway. Michael Fennelly on the left is back as is Cillian Buckley on the right. The lad in the middle is still out for a while but he’ll be useful come the summer.

Pic: INPHO/James Crombie

It’s all over in the curtain-raiser today in Nowlan Park with Cork after defeating Wexford in the Division 1 camogie league final by 0-12 to 1-7. We’ll have a report of that game shortly.

There’s a huge crowd gathered for this match and they’ll be hoping for a repeat of some of the brilliant league finals that his pair have served up in the past. In 2003 there were ten goals scored as Kilkenny triumphed by 5-14 to 5-13 in Croke Park while it took extra-time before the Cats won by 2-26 to 4-17 in 2009 in Thurles.

No late changes to either team as we get set for action.

Will Tipperary boss Eamon O’Shea claim his first piece of silverware as manager today? Or will the Cats reign supreme and retain the title they won last year against Cork? We’re moments away from throw-in.

Kilkenny 0-1 Tipperary 0-0: 1 mins – First blood to Kilkenny with Lester Ryan firing over a point from an attack from the throw-in. He’s been excellent throughout this campaign for the Cats.

Kilkenny 1-2 Tipperary 0-0: 3 mins – Goal for the Cats from Michael Fennelly!

Whirlwind start by the Cats with Fennelly firing to the net after a trademark surging run through the heart of the Tipperary defence. Prior to that Eoin Larkin had tapped over a free after Cillian Buckley had been fouled. The home support are in full voice in Nowlan Park.

Kilkenny 1-2 Tipperary 0-2: 7 mins – Vital point for Tipperary to settle their challenge as Eoin Kelly converts a free after Patrick Bonner Maher was fouled and then Brendan Maher swings over a great score from play.

Kilkenny 1-3 Tipperary 0-3: 8 mins – The two players that were brought into the Kilkenny team for today’s game – Cillian Buckley and Michael Fennelly – combine brilliantly for a move that culminates with a fine point by Fennelly. But Tipperary bounce back straight away with a neat point by Brendan Maher who has shone in the early stages.

Yellow card for Tipperary’s Conor O’Mahony.

Kilkenny’s Eoin Larkin is also booked by referee Barry Kelly from Westmeath.

Kilkenny 1-3 Tipperary 0-4: 13 mins – Sublime point by Noel McGrath after a beautiful hand pass by Lar Corbett under pressure.

Another yellow card for a Tipperary defender, this time for Conor O’Brien.

Frantic opening pace to the game but it has settled down now with Kilkenny still two points ahead after 17 minutes.

Kilkenny 2-3 Tipperary 0-5: 21 mins – Seamus Callanan smashes over a long-range free for Tipperary but then Michael Fennelly hits back with another goal for Kilkenny!

Tipperary won’t be happy with their defending for that second Fennelly goal as his shot from the left flew past Darren Gleeson to the net.

Kilkenny 2-3 Tipperary 0-6: 24 mins – Brendan Maher is leading the scoring charge for Tipperary as he bangs over his third point of the game, the latest score from distance as he seized on a misplaced pass by Kilkenny defender Paul Murphy.

Kilkenny 2-3 Tipperary 0-7: 26 mins – Great footwork by Eoin Kelly to engineer space for himself on the left wing and loft over a point for Tipperary. That move was kickstarted by a sublime hand pass by Brendan Maher.

Kilkenny’s shooting has not been the sharpest in the first-half with Colin Fennelly just after striking wide from a favourable position.

Great goal chance for Tipperary but Patrick Bonner Maher completely mishit his shot in front of goal and Kilkenny were able to clear to safety.

Kilkenny 2-4 Tipperary 0-9: 32 mins – The gap is down to the minimum thanks to a converted free by Eoin Kelly for Tipperary.

Kilkenny 2-5 Tipperary 0-10: 33 mins – The teams were briefly level when Noel McGrath raised a white flag for Tipperary but Colin Fennelly has cancelled it with a point for Kilkenny.

Kilkenny 2-6 Tipperary 0-11: 34 mins – We’re level again thanks to a monster converted free by Tipperary goalkeeper Darren Gleeson. But then Lester Ryan restores Kilkenny’s advantage as he splits the posts.

Kilkenny 2-7 Tipperary 0-11: 36 mins – It’s been the Michael Fennelly show in this first half as the Kilkenny player gets on the end of a well-worked team move to fire the ball over the bar.

HALF-TIME: Kilkenny 2-7 Tipperary 0-11: That’s how it stands at the break with Kilkenny enjoying a two-point advantage on home soil in Nowlan Park.

21,447 is the official attendance in Nowlan Park this afternoon.

Here are the scorers from the first-half of today’s game.

Kilkenny: Michael Fennelly 2-3,  Lester Ryan 0-2, Eoin Larkin (0-1f), Colin Fennelly 0-1 each.
Tipperary: Eoin Kelly 0-4 (0-3f), Brendan Maher 0-3, Noel McGrath 0-2, Seamus Callanan, Darren Gleeson 0-1 (0-1f) each.

Second-half about to start in Nowlan Park.

Kilkenny 2-8 Tipperary 0-11: 36 mins – Early score for Kilkenny as Eoin Larkin converts a ’65.

Kilkenny 2-9 Tipperary 0-12: 37 mins – Tipperary respond quickly with Eoin Kelly effortlessly firing over a free but then Kieran Joyce points for Kilkenny.

Kilkenny 2-9 Tipperary 0-14: 39 mins – The gap is down to one again after Shane Bourke hits his first point of the game for Tipperary and then Noel McGrath tacks on another point.

The atmosphere is electric in a packed Nowlan Park. Vindicates the decision to play the game at a smaller venue.

Kilkenny 2-10 Tipperary 0-14: 42 mins – Good point from a free by Eoin Larkin to restore Kilkenny’s two-point advantage.

Tempers getting frayed now as Barry Kelly consults his umpires.

Red cards for JJ Delaney and Lar Corbett!

Both players grappled on the ground with Kilkenny goalkeeper Eoin Murphy also getting involved before Barry Kelly opted to dismiss JJ and Lar. The pair will now miss their counties first championship ties this summer. It’s getting heated now in Nowlan Park.

John O’Dwyer comes into the Tipperary team for Eoin Kelly.

Kilkenny 2-10 Tipperary 0-15: 48 mins – Seamus Callanan has taken over the freetaking duties now for Tipperary with Eoin Kelly having been taken off and he’s despatched the ball between the posts to cut the gap to one.

Kilkenny 2-10 Tipperary 0-16: 50 mins – And now the teams are level in Nowlan Park with Brendan Maher shooting over his fourth point of the match for Tipperary.

Kilkenny 2-11 Tipperary 0-16: 52 mins - First score of the day for Richie Hogan for Kilkenny. He’s been quiet up until now but that’s an important contribution to nudge Kilkenny into the lead.

Kilkenny 2-12 Tipperary 0-16: 55 mins – Eoin Larkin pushes Kilkenny back ahead by two points as he converts a free.

Jason Forde comes into the Tipperary lineup for Seamus Callanan.

Kilkenny 2-13 Tipperary 0-17: 58 mins – Tipperary’s John O’Brien and Kilkenny’s Cillian Buckley swap points.

O’Brien was introduced to the Tipperary side moments before for Noel McGrath.

Kilkenn 2-14 Tipperary 0-18: 62 mins – Larkin snaps over a free to push Kilkenny three ahead but Padraic Maher ensures Tipperary respond quickly. Matthew Ruth replaces Aidan Fogarty on the Kilkenny team.

Kilkenny 2-15 Tipperary 0-19: 64 mins – Another Larkin free for Kilkenny and that is replied with a pointed free for Pa Bourke for Tipperary.

Larkin wide with a free for Kilkenny, still two points in it.

Kilkenny 2-16 Tipperary 0-19: 67 mins – Fantastic point for Kilkenny from Lester Ryan as they move three points ahead.

Kilkenny 2-16 Tipperary 0-20: 68 mins – Back to a two point game as Pa Bourke rifles over a free for Tipperary with Jackie Tyrrell booked for Kilkenny.

Kilkenny 2-17 Tipperary 0-20: 70 mins – Brilliant point for Kilkenny by Michael Rice to stretch their advantage to three.

All over and Kilkenny are league champions!

FULL-TIME: Kilkenny 2-17 Tipperary 0-20: Kilkenny defend their title successfully in front of their home fans in Nowlan Park.

That’s Kilkenny’s 16th National Hurling League title and their seventh crown in the last twelve years.

Good day for the Fennelly clan from Ballyhale as Michael wins the man-of-the-match award and Colin captains the team to glory.

Hugely intense encounter that whets the appetite for the summer ahead. Plenty of talking points, not least the red cards brandished to JJ Delaney and Lar Corbett for an off the ball tussle after half-time.

That’s all from us after a richly entertaining encounter in Nowlan Park. Thanks for joining us this afternoon and for all your comments.

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