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Sheedy returns to the promised land, where it went wrong for Kilkenny and Callanan's goal rush

5 talking points after Tipperary’s 14-point hammering of Kilkenny in the All-Ireland final.

1. Hogan’s controversial red card

THEY SAY A game of hurling is just a series of mini skirmishes fought all over the field. Come out on top in enough of them and you’ll win the game. One particularly intriguing battle was the showdown between Richie Hogan and Cathal Barrett – two of the most experienced players on the field. Between them, the pair share five All-Stars and eight All-Irelands.

Cathal Barrett lies injured following a incident with Richie Hogan Cathal Barrett lies injured following a incident with Richie Hogan. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

Hogan scored an early point but Barrett drew first blood, literally, midway through the opening half when he smashed into him, leaving the forward sidelined with a bloodied nose. After a short blood substitution, the Danesfort star returned to the field wearing a new number 31 jersey.

So when Barrett picked up Eoin Murphy’s long puck-out right on the sideline, Hogan spotted his opportunity to exact retribution. Barrett’s peripheral vision picked up Hogan’s run and he brilliantly stepped out of the oncoming traffic. A raised elbow caught the Holycross-Ballycahill defender on the chin and his reaction ensured the referee had to take action. 

It deserved a red card, especially given the renewed focus from referees on head-high challenges this season. All-Ireland finals tend to hinge on a few big moments and so it transpired.  After scoring just 1-8 in the opening 33 minutes, Tipperary posted 2-17 in the final 40-odd minutes of the game. Hogan’s dismissal completely changed the direction of the game and gave the Premier the sort of open game they dream of.  

Liam Sheedy in the final minute of play Liam Sheedy in the final minute of play. Source: Oisin Keniry/INPHO

2. Sheedy brings Premier to the promised land again

Only Liam Sheedy and Cyrill Farrell have managed a county on separate stints and delivered the Liam MacCarthy Cup during both spells. Sheedy knew there was another All-Ireland title in this group and stepped back into the arena to win his second crown as manager, nine years after the first. 

The experience he gained during his time as chair of Sport Ireland’s High Performance Committee evidently made him a better manager. He put another formidable management team around him and it was acknowledged as a major factor by both Seamus Callanan and John O’Dwyer after the game.

Hurling has undergone significant tactical changes during Sheedy’s time away from the inter-county game but he didn’t miss a beat on his return.

As the game ticked into stoppage-time with Tipperary leading by double figures, Sheedy was still roaring instructions onto the field. There was no let-up until the final whistle sounded. The release of emotion in Sheedy’s face summed it up. No other manager has managed to beat Brian Cody in two All-Ireland finals and his overall record of 2-1 against the greatest manager of all-time doesn’t look too shabby either.

A matter of weeks after the 2010 victory, Sheedy announced his resignation as manager. Tipperary fans will be hoping he decides to stick around for a bit longer this time.

TJ Reid dejected TJ Reid has now lost two All-Ireland finals as Kilkenny captain. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

3. Where did it go wrong for Kilkenny?

In the past, Kilkenny so often put games out of sight in the period after half-time, it was exceedingly unusual to see them concede 2-5 in the 11 minutes following the restart. It took Tipperary a long time to get firing in a first period where only two forwards managed to score from play, but they were devastating when they hit their stride after the interval.

It was reported that Adrian Mullen was hospitalised due to an illness this week, bringing back memories of the time Brazilian Ronaldo was taken ill before the World Cup final. Cody refuted claims that Mullen, a year younger than Ronaldo was in 1998, spent time in hospital in the build-up to the game.

“Nothing serious at all,” he said. “He had a slight bug midweek.”

But Mullen’s energy levels were undoubtedly affected and he endured his quietest game of the championship, although credit must also go to Barry Heffernan who enjoyed a marvellous game. The Club Hurler of the Year only made his Kilkenny debut in May after coming off the back of a stunning club campaign with Ballyhale Shamrocks.

He looked like a potential wildcard in the Kilkenny attack coming into this game, but it didn’t work out for him. He’ll come back stronger from this experience.

Brazil lost that final to France but claimed glory four years later with Ronaldo to the fore.

Jake Morris celebrates at the final whistle Source: James Crombie/INPHO

4. Tipperary’s most successful team since the 1960s

Tipperary’s third All-Ireland crown since 2010 makes this their most successful run since the 1960s when the won four titles in five years. This group of players have been unfairly criticised over the years, their character and hunger for the fight has been questioned.

But those stinging remarks evidently built a chip on the shoulder of Tipperary’s older guard who may have felt they were underappreciated as a team. They recovered from a shattering Munster final defeat to Limerick and a stuttering quarter-final win over Laois. When we reflect on this year, we may look back at John McGrath’s red card against Wexford as a major turning point.

Tipperary were five points behind and down to 14 men against a buoyant Wexford team. It would have been as good a time as any to throw in the towel, but something awoke in Sheedy’s team at that stage and they haven’t looked back.

Having so often been on the receiving end of maulings at the hands of Kilkenny, Tipp were more than happy to ram home their advantage in the closing stages. The players won’t admit it publically, but they’ll take huge satisfaction in dishing out a 14-point hammering to the Cats, three years after they subjected them to an 11-point beating.

Padraic Maher and Séamus Callanan Padraic Maher and Séamus Callanan after the game. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

5. Callanan’s incredible goalscoring record

Seamus Callanan’s eighth goal in as many matches this summer brought him level with Eddie Keher at joint-third in the all-time championship goalscoring charts.

That his 35th green flag arrived against Keher’s native county was fitting. His 37th-minute strike, which started a run of 1-2 without reply, was a real poacher’s finish.

Lurking nearby as John McGrath shot on goal, Callanan’s instincts brought him to the perfect area when the rebound fell into his path. He dived and steered the ball into the net as Huw Lawlor’s last-ditch attempt at a block was only inches away.

Relieved of the free-taking duties for the past couple of seasons, Callanan solely focuses on scores from play these days. The 8-18 he racked up this campaign leaves him as the frontrunner for the Hurler of the Year honour.

Despite being one shortlisted for three straight years between 2014 to 2016, he never finished top of the MVP voting. Callanan underwent back surgery in 2018 and many believed his best days were behind him. Scoring 1-2 in the All-Ireland final against the old enemy caps off the greatest season the 30-year-old has ever produced.

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About the author:

Kevin O'Brien

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