14.59 – As Michael Lyster says on blue riband days like this: good afternoon and welcome to you, no matter where you are in Ireland – or indeed – around the world.
It’s TheScore’s first senior All-Ireland final. Normally we liveblog these Sunday afternoon games in a pair of Flahanvan porridge tracksuit bottoms and a Feile ’92 t-shirt. Not so today – we’re wearing a windsor knot, pinstripes and Coppers Gold card.
It’s go time. Tipp v Kilkenny. Who do you fancy?
15.05 – In the interests of journalistic impartiality I backed a draw at 11-1 earlier in the week – a bet that seems pretty fashionable with the likes of Con Murphy and Waterford’s John Mullane flagging the possibility of the first final stalemate since the 50s today on the airwaves.
Whatever the outcome, I think most are expecting a battle in the wet conditions at Croker today, rather than the instant classics of the past two years.
In the meantime, Galway have won the minor encounter against Dublin on a scoreline of 1-21 to 1-12.
Galway however lost the senior decider 25 years ago – their victors Cork were introduced to the HQ crowd moments ago.
15.07 – The floodlights are on at Croker and both sets of players are now out on the pitch. The countdown is on.
15.09 – We’re still waiting to learn of the confirmed teams – but there’s no indication of any changes in the announced sides during the week.
RTÉ have been lacing their super-slow-mo montage footage with the Band of Brothers theme tune. I’m ready to run through a brick wall – and I’m not from either county.
15.15 – So here are your All-Ireland final teams:
Kilkenny: Herity; Murphy, Hickey, Tyrell; Walsh, Hogan (c), Delaney; Fennelly, Rice; Brennan, Power, Shefflin; Fennelly, Larkin, Hogan
Tipperary: Cummins; Stapleton, Curran, Cahill; O’Keeffe, O’Mahony, Maher; Ryan, McGrath; Callanan, McGrath, Maher; Kelly (c), O’Brien. Corbett
15.20 – It’s past midnight in New Zealand but Tipp man Denis Leamy is in his jim-jams in a Queenstown hotel looking for a feed for the match. His roomie Rory Best tweets:
15.25 – President McAleese is about to emerge for her last hurling decider. What’s the tally over her two terms in office? My back-of-the-napkin calculation is: Kilkenny 7 Cork 3 Tipp 2 Offaly 1.
Open to correction on everything I just typed, including the spelling of McAleese.
15.30 – The teams are parading around Croke Park in front of around 82,000 fans. The first of the pictures of those in the stands are starting to drop in from the lads at Inpho.
Meet the Premier’s secret weapon, along with PJ Hanrahan and Will Kennedy. You wouldn’t like him when he’s angry.
15.32 – We’re up and running.
15.35 – Kilkenny 0-01 Tipp 0-00 Colin Fennelly wins a free after a frantic start and Henry Shefflin knocks it over from 30m-ish. Tyrell’s on Lar, by the way.
The Cats won the toss and chose to play left to right, there’s no real breeze around we’re told.
15.37 – Kilkenny 0-02 Tipperary 0-00 Great start for the pretenders: Michael Fennelly drops one in, Eoin Larkin fields it, turns and drops it over.
Earlier though, Kilkeny were denied a goal when Michael Cahill pulled off a wonderful last-ditch block.
This is frantic, glad I had those energy gels during the parade.
15.43 – We had a long sequence of uninterrupted hurling there – the first time, Tipp seem to have earned a foothold in the game. But crucially, the period ends with a square ball and a free out to the Cats.
The Kilkenny backs are on top so far – but let’s remember, Lar Corbett touched the ball seven times in this game last year. And he hit a hat-trick.
15.45 – Kilkenny 0-04 Tipperary 0-00 Eoin Larkin assist, Richie Hogan point. Business as usual.
Seconds later, Paul Curran has to scoop the ball right off the line when Eoin Larkin beats Brendan Cummins in the air. Richie Power than tacks on another point.
15.48 – Kilkenny 0-05 Tipperary 0-01 It took them more than a quarter of an hour but Tipp are on the scoreboard.
King Henry added to his personal tally before Noel McGrath at last notched the Premier’s first.
15.51 – Kilkenny 0-05 Tipperary 0-02 Eoin Kelly lofts over a free from out near the sideline and suddenly there’s one score in it.
The referee needs some medical attention after he shipped a stroke from Tommy Walsh to the face during the customary shemozzle in front of the Kilkenny goal.
15.56 – Kilkenny 0-06 Tipperary 0-03 The action gets under way after the ref is patched up with Eoin Kelly tapping over the free. Kilkenny reciprocate immediately through Eddie Brennan.
16.00 – The ref looks like Robbie Fowler during his nose-tape days.
Brendan Maher is on ahead of schedule for Tipp; John O’Keeffe had a long 20-odd minutes on Shefflin.
16.04 – Kilkenny 0-07 Tipperary 0-04 Eoin Kelly makes it a two-point game with another free. Michael Rice is on the turf after shipping a heavy knock to the head.
Shefflin then arrows over a free. Cha Fitzpatrick is warming up on the line and with 33 minutes on the clock – plus maybe five of injury time – there’s enough time there yet.
16.08 – GOAL Kilkenny 1-08 Tipperary 0-05 Daylight at last. A wonderfully fluid move involving Shellfin and Larkin ends in Michael Fennelly arriving at the end of a pop pass to stroke it home.
The sides then exchange points through Ryan and Rice – we’re waiting on the half-time whistle now.
16.11 – Kilkenny 1-08 Tipp 0-06 Eoin Kelly knocks over his fourth point from a free. Noel Hickey foot-tripped Bonner Maher – and is very lucky to get away with it.
16.13 – HALF TIME
16.20 – So Tipp are five points down after a first period marked by spilled blood, hurleys and defensive lines.
Cyril on RTÉ: “Kilkenny are where they want to be; now do they have the legs to really nail them.” Tomás Mul allows himself a chuckle when reviewing the slap the ref from Offaly took. As our boxing writer Gavin Grace writes:
“If you said at the start 2011 that a man from Clara would get get his nose busted on live TV, I wouldn’t have predicted this”.
How are you feeling out there in computer-land? Can Tipp claw it back?
16.24 – Guess the official attendance….
16.28 – Cyril – who backed Kilkenny – reckons the Cats’ fitness really will be a factor and say they’re up against it, having put so much into the first period.
Declan Ryan isn’t a man to which bouncing hurleys of physiotherapy tables comes naturally, but he will send his side back out with their ears ringing. The first score will be crucial, one suspects. Tipp fans will hope Lar Corbett clocks in at some stage too.
Kilkenny are first back out onto a Croke Park pitch which is now basked in bright sunlight.
16.31 – Strap in, we’re up and running again. Benny Dunne and Pa Bourke are in for Shane McGrath and Seamus Callanan by the way.
16.33 – Kilkenny 1-09 Tipperary 0-07 Benny Dunne opens his account with a point on the run before Henry Shefflin drops one over the bar from way out – a beauty. Bright start from both sets of players.
16.36 – Kilkenny 1-10 Tipp 0-08 Eoin Kelly doesn’t miss those does he? The talismanic forward makes it a four-point game.
But as I type, Colin Fennelly opens his All-Ireland final account with a lovely strike after a good hook.
16.39 – Kilkenny 1-12 Tipp 0-09 Lar Corbett is on the pitch – and he’s down injured.
Shefflin has tacked on another free before Conor O’Mahony broke through the centre and stroked on over the bar.
16.42 – Kilkenny 1-12 Tipp 0-10 Weird one but Tipp won’t complain. the Cats throught they had a free out but the referee ultimately signalled the opposite way and Eoin Kelly did the needful as they say in match reports.
16.43 – GOAL Kilkenny 2-12 Tipp 0-10 Oh my word.
16.45 – Kilkenny 2-12 Tipp 0-11 If that Richie Hogan goal decides this All-Ireland final, it’s worthy of it.
Eddie Brennan hared through the middle with the ball on his stick and when one wondered why he didn’t tap it over, he instead knocked it left to Hogan. The No 15 took one touch and then unleashed a sublime shot into the top corner. Utter class.
16.47 – Kilkenny 2-13 Tipp 0-12 While I was still mopping my brow and exhaling loudly, following that goal, Shefflin points again. He’s quite good, that lad.
Tipp, for their part, are very much on the ropes but with the likes of Noel McGrath cutting over sideline balls, as he just did, all is not lost.
16.49 – GOAL! Pa Bourke for Tipp!
16.51 – Kilkenny 2-13 Tipp 1-12 Unbelievably, this is back on.
Bonner Maher fed the previously-anonymous Lar Corbett who popped a pass to Bourke. The substitute drilled it home. Croke Park is buzzing. Next point crucial.
16.54 – Kilkenny 2-14 Tipp 1-12 Colin Fennelly turns and takes that ‘crucial next point’ for the Cats.
TJ Reid on for Eddie Brennan’s 33-year-old legs. He’s done more than his bit to earn his eight Celtic Cross.
16.56 – Kilkenny 2-14 Tipp 1-13 Noel McGrath makes it a four-point game again while Brian Cody rages against a perceived pick-up on the line. There’s 62 minutes on the clock.
17.00 – Kilkenny 2-14 Tipp 1-14 The Premier are back to within a score again thanks to a free from Kelly.
Hang on… Shefflin notches yet another free – that’s seven points for the Ballyhale man, by my count. The Cats seem to be keeping Tipp at a safe enough distance successfully.
17.02 – Kilkenny 2-16 Tipperary 1-15 Kelly again from a free. And again, Kilkenny reply.
17.03 – Pa Bourke was winding up for a shot on goal but he was well hooked and the black and amber drive it long.
17.04 – We’re into two minutes of added time. And there’s four points in it.
17.05 – Kilkenny 2-17 Tipp 1-16 Back to one score with one minute left but Eoin Larkin wins the next possession and he knocks it over. The fat lady is clearing her throat.
17.06 – FULL TIME Kilkenny win back the Liam MacCarthy
17.12 – GAA president Christy Cooney is holding the mic with two hands like Karen Carpenter or someone. He’s full of praise for both sides today, rightly. What a great final again.
17.16 – Brian Hogan lifts Liam, offers the customary cupla focail and then starts to tip through the thank-yous. Brian Cody affords himself a nice smile as his captain describes him as ‘an absolute legend’.
He’s certainly that at this stage. As are his team after a fifth win in six seasons.
17.23 – Here’s that incident with referee Brian Gavin and Tommy Walsh’s hurley in the first half:
The Offaly man felt the effects afterwards:
Pic: INPHO/James Crombie
17.24 – All-Ireland final bingo: whoever had Tomás Mul to say ‘zonked’, please collect your prize at the back of the hall.
17.27 – Ah we’re a grand country all the same. Someone just opened the door of the RTÉ studio, roared ‘come on the Cats’ and slammed it shut again.
You shouldn’t be up here, DJ.
17.34 – So, to whom shall will we award the inaugural All-Ireland hurling final man-of-the-match award?
Tipperary manager Declan Ryan speaking to Clare McNamara: “It was a very disappointed dressing-room in there. It just didn’t happen today. Kilkenny showed savage hunger and all the hallmarks that made them a great team.”I’m very proud of the guys, they’ve trained savage hard all year, it’s just a shame to be in a losing dressing-room at the end of it
17.41 – That’s your lot. No sign of Cody.Congratulations to Kilkenny, who are back on top for the winter.
Thanks for your company, keep the comments, votes and inappropriate picture messages coming.