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Fennelly 'in unstoppable form' as Kilkenny Cats lift the National Hurling League trophy after sinking claws into Tipperary

By Martin Breheny

The main man was missing but it was business as usual for Kilkenny in front of a packed house at Nowlan Park as they captured the National Hurling League title with a superb, three-point victory over Tipperary.

The Cats certainly enjoyed the comforts of their home pitch as they burst out of the traps with an early goal from Michael Fennelly, something that will have pleased manager Brian Cody as he watched on television from the comfort of his home.

Mr Cody was again an absentee as he recovers from heart surgery but will no doubt have enjoyed the match as his star-studded team picked up another trophy.

However, selector Michael Dempsey revealed Mr Cody had actually slipped into Nowlan Park on Saturday to see the county's minors lose to Wexford.

"He was able to come in yesterday at his ease and hopefully he'll be back shortly," added Mr Dempsey who, along with Martin Fogarty, has been taking charge of the team in Mr Cody's absence.

"It's lucky we won today or I'd say he would have been back quicker than even we'd want," joked Mr Dempsey.

In front of a crowd of 21,447, Mr Fennelly turned in a man-of-the-match performance, to the delight of the majority of supporters, which allowed his brother Colin to lift the trophy.

Mr Fennelly was in unstoppable form in the first half as he struck goals in the third and 21st minutes and also scored three points from open play to take his total to 2-3 by half-time.

The only downside came in the second half when full-back JJ Delaney was sent off with Lar Corbett after the pair clashed in an off-the-ball incident.

Following consultations with his umpires, referee Barry Kelly dismissed the pair, who will now miss the opening championship matches of their respective campaigns.

Belfast Telegraph Digital

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