A STRONG BREEZE helped Kilkenny to storm back into contention at the end of this Intermediate Hurling Championship semi-final after the same conditions had helped Tipperary into a 3-9 to 0-6 half-time lead.
Rory Hickey had a chance to put Kilkenny ahead for the first time since the ninth minute when the Cats were awarded a penalty with eight minutes remaining.
However, James Logue pulled off a fantastic save to stem a tide of scoring which saw the black and amber out-shoot the Premier County by 1-10 to 0-20 in the 20 minutes following half time.
Hickey had opened the scoring early in the game with a pointed free, and the Cats were leading by two points when Tipp hit the net for the first time through Michael Heffernan’s ninth minute strike.
The Premier county were rampant from that moment to the half. Heffernan, Kieran Morris and, Paudie White and David Butler all pointed before the latter smashed in goal number two.
Hickey stepped up to end the run of 2-6 with no reply in the 22nd minute. Just two minutes later though, Morris hit Tipperary’s third of the day and would add a point from play after Hickey had narrowed the gap slightly with a free.
The sides went in at half time knowing the 3-9 to 0-6 scoreline could be bridged with the strong wind.
The crowd of over 3,000 watched the Cats clinically close the gap inch by inch in the third quarter. Kevin Kelly, John Joe Farrell and Niall Walsh were on form as Kilkenny pointed six without reply before a speculative long-range shot found it’s way past Logue and into the net. Hickey added a 65 to make it 3-9 to 1-13 with 15 minutes on the clock.
Staring into the teeth of the storm, the Premier County finally responded. Heffernan briefly broke the black and amber stranglehold on the scoreboard, but his two scores in quick-succession were followed by three more sliotars sailing over Logue’s bar.
With the score 3-11 to 1-16, Kilkenny were awarded a penalty and Hickey made his error of the day as Logue batted it clear.
That massive momentum shift sent Tipperary down the field where Richie Ruth won a free, pointed by Morris. A minute later the Premier county edged further ahead with Paudie O’Dwyer scoring from play register the three-point lead.
Shortly after narrowing the score to tow, the Cats were awarded a 20 metre free. Hickey once again stood over the ball, but once again, he could not beat Logue.
3-13 to -17 the final score as Tipperary are crowned All Ireland intermediate champions.