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5 talking points from today's Allianz Hurling League final

From phantom points to and unusually quiet Henry Shefflin.

TJ Reid and Brendan Maher greet each other at the end of today's game.
TJ Reid and Brendan Maher greet each other at the end of today's game.
Image: James Crombie/INPHO

1. When is a point not a point?

THERE WERE TWO incidents in Semple Stadium today that could really have benefited from Croke Park’s Hawk-Eye system.

The first came nine minutes into the game after a long-range effort from Colin Fennelly looked to have gone wide. However, while one umpire did wave it wide, the man with the white flag signaled that the Kilkenny man had indeed scored a point.

Amid much confusion, referee James Owens ran towards the Tipperary goal and, after some consultation, decided to allow the score. Unfortunately, the incident doesn’t appear in the highlight package of the first half.

Later, with the sides level in the first period of extra time, a well-worked Tipperary move looked to have been finished off by Noel McGrath. This time, however, the umpires did not award the score.

Source: TG4/YouTube

With Tipperary losing by the narrowest of margins, they have every right to bemoan the absence of a system that is available in one stadium but not available in all. On such slim margins, league titles are won and lost.

2. A quiet King Henry

Source: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

0-0

That’s Henry Shefflin’s total from today and marks a continuation of a trend that has seen the Ballyhale Shamrocks club man score 0-12, 1-5, 0-7 and 0-4 in his previous four starts.

Today, Cathal Barrett did what every back in the country must dream of and kept the 11 time All-Star off the scoresheet altogether.

The fact that Shefflin didn’t strike a single free today – that role went to TJ Reid – may mark a different direction for Kilkenny or it might prove to Brian Cody his side have what it takes to challenge for All-Ireland honours again even without his talisman troubling the umpires.

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3. Kilkenny’s first penalty

Earlier this week, Clare manager Davy Fitzgerald called for a second referee in hurling with the All-Ireland winning boss saying “I think the referees are under a lot of pressure. With the way the game is moving, maybe is it time to look at a second ref at the other side of the field?”

Fitzgerald might be on to something when you see how long it takes Owens to come into view after awarding Kilkenny their first penalty today.

You can’t really blame Owens for being so far behind the play as this game in particular moved at a frenetic pace but how can you be so sure a foul has been committed from so far away?

4. This defeat won’t hurt as much as others for Tipp

Tipperary have lost seven of their last eight encounters with Kilkenny but they can take an awful lot of positives from today’s game.

For a start, they never really looked like conceding a goal from play – something you couldn’t have said about Eamon O’Shea’s men for much of this league campaign – and they also came within inches of winning even despite the influential Séamus Callanan having a relatively quiet day by his recent standards.

There’s no place for moral victories in sport but Tipp have improved as the league has progressed and it’s a mentally stronger squad that will face Limerick on June 1 than many in the Premier county may have expected when they flirted with relegation earlier in the campaign.

5. TJ Reid’s place ball masterclass

Just two points – including the all important winning one – of TJ Reid’s 2-11 total came from play today with eight frees, two penalties and a 65 accounting for the rest.

Reid missed just one place ball all day, a long-range effort just before the end of the first half, and has scored 4-13 from place balls throughout this year’s league campaign.

Reid missed eight months last year with a serious knee injury but if the Ballyhale Shamrocks man can stay fit and keep up the accuracy he showed today, Kilkenny will be there or there abouts next September.

Kilkenny win third Allianz Hurling League in a row with last-gasp win over Tipperary

About the author:

Steve O'Rourke

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