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The calm before a game of hurling at Croke Park. The ball is called a sliothar and the wooden stick is called a camán Photo by: Tourism Ireland

Allianz National Hurling League final wins for Kilkenny and Offaly

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The calm before a game of hurling at Croke Park. The ball is called a sliothar and the wooden stick is called a camán Photo by: Tourism Ireland

The Allianz National Hurling Division One final went to extra time in Thurles with Kilkenny beating Tipperary 2-26 to 4-17 in a belter of a match.

In the earlier game,  Offaly  won the Division Two final, seeing off Wexford by 1-13 to 0-13, with Joe Dooley's men getting the better of their Leinster neighbours after a stronger first half.

Allianz National Hurling League Division One Final

Tipperary 4-17 Kilkenny 2-26 (AET)

Richie Hogan scored 1-10 as Kilkenny collected a 14th Allianz National Hurling League title in a gripping Semple Stadium decider against Tipperary on Sunday.

The Cats came from eight points down to force extra-time in Thurles and finished with a flourish to nail a first National League title since 2006 with three points to spare.
 
Remarkably, Hogan was scoreless in the first half in front of 17,087 spectators, but the Danesfort star helped himself to 1-7 in the second half and added three points in the second period of extra-time.

Aidan Fogarty also turned in a useful performance for the Leinster and All-Ireland champions as he chipped in with a 1-5 haul.

In a gripping decider, the best league final since the Croke Park cliff-hanger between the two sides in 2003, Séamus Callanan bagged 1-7 for Tipp and teen sensation Noel McGrath added 1-5.

Two minutes after half-time, Callanan’s goal opened up a 3-7 to 0-8 lead for Tipperary, but Brian Cody’s all-conquering stars overcame some stiff obstacles to force their way back into contention.

Kilkenny suffered a severe injury blow after just 11 minutes when Brian Hogan was stretchered off, and the winners also lost the services of Martin Comerford and Henry Shefflin to yellow cards.

Comerford was just a minute on the field after replacing Hogan when he was dismissed while Shefflin was ordered off seven minutes after half-time.

In addition, Tipp’s Hugh Maloney and Kilkenny pair Eddie Brennan and Tommy Walsh can also count themselves fortunate not to have been yellow-carded in the final competitive hurling fixture played under the experimental rules in operation during the league campaign.

Tipp, playing with a strong breeze, got off to the best possible start with two goals inside the first nine minutes as James Woodlock booted home from close range in the 4th minute before John O’Brien finished clinically five minutes later.

Those strikes helped Tipp to lead by 2-7 to 0-8 at half-time and they got off to the best possible start to the second period. Within two minutes Callanan collected a Lar Corbett pass and drilled home a fine goal at the Killinan End.

Eight points clear, Tipp had a solid platform but just a minute later, Hogan netted, and the goal allowed  despite home protests that the Kilkenny forward had taken too many steps.

Aidan Fogarty’s 50th-minute goal hauled Kilkenny right back into contention as the Emeralds corner forward finished clinically past Brendan Cummins,and with 20 minutes remaining the scene was set for a gripping finish.

Lesser teams have crumbled in the face of the Kilkenny juggernaut but Tipp, who lost by 17 points against the same opposition at Nowlan Park just six weeks ago, hung in grimly until the finish and had to come from behind to force extra-time.

Fogarty leveled things up with a minute remaining, and when Hogan pointed a free a minute into stoppage time, Kilkenny appeared to have clinched the tie in regulation time.

But Tipperary had other ideas and after James Ryall was penalized for holding onto the sliotar on the ground, former All-Ireland minor medallist Noel McGrath stepped forward to tie the full-time scores at 3-14 to 2-17.

Extra time was a close affair, and when Tipperary scored a goal at the start of the second period, it looked like the home team might get the better of their rivals.  However, the Cats, with the wind at their backs, scored a series of stunning points to run out winners by three points.

Tipperary: B Cummins (0-1f); P Stapleton, P Curran, C O’Brien; Pádraic Maher, D Fanning, S Maher; T Stapleton, S McGrath (0-2); L Corbett, S Callanan (1-7, 0-7f), J Woodlock (1-1); N McGrath (1-5, 1f), M Webster, J O’Brien (1-1).

Subs: B Maher for Fanning (12), H Maloney for S Maher (14), B Dunne for Maloney (58), S Hennessy for Woodlock (62), D Fitzgerald for Stapleton (70), Patrick Maher for Webster (80), E Buckley for Pádraic Maher (80).

Kilkenny: PJ Ryan; M Kavanagh, JJ Delaney, J Tyrrell; T Walsh, B Hogan, J Ryall; J Tennyson, M Rice; R Hogan (1-10, 0-7f), H Shefflin (0-4, 1f, 1 65), E Larkin (0-1); E Brennan (0-2), TJ Reid (0-4, 1 sl), A Fogarty (1-5).

Subs: M Comerford for Hogan (11), M Grace for Comerford (13), J ‘Cha’ Fitzpatrick for Shefflin (42), S Cummins for Kavanagh (78).

Referee: J Sexton (Cork).
 

Allianz National Hurling League Division Two Final

Offaly 1-13 Wexford 0-13

The two sides will meet at Wexford Park in the Leinster SHC on May 30, and Joe Dooley’s Offaly will go into that game full of confidence after winning this latest battle.

Wexford had emerged victorious when the teams met in the group stages of the competition, but when it mattered most, Offaly came through despite racking up a tally of 14 wides.

The return of David Franks and David Kenny strengthened the Offaly defense considerably, while skipper Ger Oakley led by example at centre back.

Wexford paid the price for a terribly sluggish start as they fell 1-5 to 0-1 behind only 12 minutes into the game.

Full-forward Stephen Banville had opened the scoring for Wexford but Offaly responded with 1-5 without reply.

Daniel Currams supplied the Offaly goal after nine minutes as he beat Wexford goalkeeper Dermot Flynn to James Rigney’s speculative centre from the Old Stand side of the field.

Diarmuid Lyng stopped the rot for Wexford with a superbly struck sideline cut from the New Stand side in the 15th minute, the Model County’s first score since Banville’s opener, before Paul Carley added a free two minutes later.

Offaly hit back to lead by 1-8 to 0-4 after 23 minutes before Wexford put together a run of four unanswered points to cut the lead back to just three points.

Crucially, Offaly responded with a run of three successive scores of their own, a trio of Shane Dooley frees, to ensure a decent half-time platform.

They led by 1-11 to 0-8 at the interval but after playing with the aid of a strong breeze into the Town End during the first half, it seemed that a six-point interval lead might not be enough.

Offaly managed just two points in the second half, but the closest Wexford came to their opponents was when midfielder David Redmond reduced the deficit to two points with nine minutes remaining.

At that point, Offaly’s sole second half contribution to the scoreboard was Shane Dooley’s 43rd-minute free, but with five minutes remaining, Brian Carroll slotted over his side’s first point for 22 minutes of play.

Offaly held on for a precious victory, but they had goalkeeper Brian Mullins to thank in stoppage time for a smart save at head height kept Wexford sub Tomás Waters.

Wexford: D Flynn; M Travers (0-1), P Roche, A O’Connell; M Jacob, S Nolan, R Kehoe; D Redmond (0-1), C Kenny; D Lyng (0-2, both sidelines), A Shore (0-1), P Carley (0-4, 3f, 1 65); R Jacob (0-1), S Banville (0-2), P Kenny (0-1).

Subs: S Doyle for Kenny (47), T Waters for Carley (48), D Stamp for Nolan (63), P Atkinson for Banville (70).

Offaly: B Mullins; D Franks, D Kenny, J Rigney; K Brady, G Oakley, P Cleary (0-1f); R Hanniffy, B Murphy; B Carroll (0-3), J Brady, D Molloy (0-3); D Currams (1-1), S Dooley (0-5f), J Bergin.

Subs: C Parlon for Currams (60), C Mahon for Murphy (70+2).

Referee: G Hoey (Clare)

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