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Corbett the hat-trick hero as Kilkenny’s bid for immortality dies

Eoin Kelly’s remarkable freetaking – and a hat-trick from Lar Corbett – kill off Kilkenny’s bid for five-in-a-row and win Tipp’s first title since 2001.

Lar Corbett scored three goals as Tipperary claimed their first All-Ireland for nine years.
Lar Corbett scored three goals as Tipperary claimed their first All-Ireland for nine years.
Image: INPHO/Morgan Treacy

GAA Hurling All-Ireland Senior Championship: Tipperary 4-17, Kilkenny 1-18: A MAGNIFICENT HAT-TRICK from a devastating Lar Corbett denied Kilkenny their place in sporting history and powered Tipperary to an emphatic 4-17 to 1-18 victory in an outstanding All-Ireland final at Croke Park.

Corbett’s three goals – supplemented by an extraordinary and immaculate performance by Eoin Kelly from frees – were the difference as Kilkenny, without Henry Shefflin who lasted just 13 minutes, struggled to cope with the Premier’s awesome firepower.

The third, at the death of injury time, put a gloss on the scoreboard that Tipperary perhaps deserved. For all of Kilkenny’s tenacity and heart, they were simply second best to a Premier side that deserved their revenge for their defeat in last year’s decider.

Kilkenny’s Richie Power did his best to deputise for his side’s absent leader, scoring a commendable 1-9 himself, but on a day when Tipperary’s forwards had muscle and strength in bucketloads, Kilkenny’s other forwards were conspicuous by their absence.

Sloppy

The opening was a sloppy, but not scrappy, tit-for-tat exchange, with both sides struggling to hold possession amid significant mist and strong blanket coverage from both defences.

That was no problem for Corbett, however, who made the best of a speculative long-ball and a slip from Noel Hickey to ram the ball past PJ Ryan for his first goal after ten minutes.

Kilkenny captain TJ Reid attempted to reply with a goal of his own, but his strike was from too far out and Brendan Cummins was able to deflect the strike away. From the resulting clearance, John O’Brien tapped a Ryan rebound over the bar.

Then came Shefflin’s anonymous departure after an unlucky 13 minutes, pulling up after a routine challenge and immediately signalling the end of his involvement.

Kilkenny’s hopes didn’t get any better immediately after the loss of Shefflin – who was replaced by Michael Rice – with Power’s first attempt from a free, just as Shefflin’s, going to the right, although he made his amends from a closer place ball a minute later.

Such was Tipperary’s ability to hamper the champions’ style, though, that Kilkenny’s first score from play came after all of fifteen minutes from Aidan Fogarty, but his point was immediately nulled by Brendan Maher with a fine long-range strike of his own.

Renaissance

Then came Kilkenny’s best spell of the game; Power narrowing the deficit to four points with his third successful free, taken from the halfway line, and reducing it further – to three – a minute later.

Tipp keeper Cummins contributed to the Premier’s tally with a monster of a free after 28 minutes – his first ever Championship point, albeit aided by a huge wind – and John O’Brien put the lead back to five to cap a fine move on the half-hour. Gearóid Ryan brought the lead to six a minute later.

That lead lasted just seconds. Richie Power finished a classic Kilkenny move – kicked off by a wonderful burst of pace from Eoin Larkin – with a rasping shot to the back of Cummins’ net to keep Kilkenny in touch. Further frees from the Carrickshock man reduced the gap to two at the end of regulation time, and to a solitary point in the single added minute of the first half.

The Cats started the second manner just as they had ended the first – on the front foot – and Reid put the sides level from a wonderful sideline cut on 39 minutes.

That was as close, however, as Kilkenny would get: Kelly restoring the lead with another free the next minute. And then came the goals – first Corbett rattling past the airborne hurl of Tennyson to rocket to the net and score his, and Tipp’s, second goal; then Noel McGrath bundling over the line after miscommunications in a crowded Kilkenny defence.

The sides had been level five minutes earlier: now Tipp were seven ahead.

A Premier performance

Power continued putting his frees between the posts, but a six-point lead with 25 minutes to go slowly made it apparent that the five-in-a-row would remain elusive. Every time the Kilkenny half-forwards forayed towards the 45, Tipp were there in numbers to choke off their support. All the reigning champions could do was hope that Power could keep them in contention – which he tried to, pointing another free with 20 minutes to go.

TJ Reid pulled the deficit back to five as the first substitutions arrived, and one of them – Derek Lyng – made his presence quickly felt, bringing Kilkenny within a score after an end-to-end movement.

Kelly and Reid exchanged points – Kelly’s, once again, a magnificent effort from the placed ball – but as Kilkenny tried and failed to make inroads, the newly-introduced Seamus Callinan grabbed two stunning points to return the lead to five.

There were now, tantalisingly, just eight minutes to go, and Kilkenny seemed to be struggling to keep their nerve, especially with Tennyson risking conceding a penalty – and a second yellow – for a needlessly high tackle on Corbett, while JJ Delaney was penalised for throwing the ball with Kelly pointing the resulting free. Six points, five minutes.

Power brought his personal total to 1-9 with a point with four minutes to go, taking his point when a goal seemed on the cards, and substitute John Mulhall – Kilkenny’s final change – kept the Cats within pouncing range, four behind as the board went up for three additional minutes.

It was not to be: Benny Dunne – sent off in last year’s decider – put the lead at five as the injury time began, and Seamus Hennessy added another to put the game beyond the outgoing champions.

Corbett finished a goalmouth scramble to clinch his hat trick as the game ebbed out – salt in Kilkenny’s wounds – and a Michael Rice point with the last puck was scant consolation. It was, finally, Tipperary’s day.

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About the author:

Gavan Reilly

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