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Kilkenny lift league after thriller

Kilkenny 2-25 Tipperary 1-27 (AET): A last-gasp extra-time point from the outstanding T J Reid secured the Allianz Hurling League crown for Kilkenny when they pipped Tipperary by 2-25 to 1-27 in yesterday's decider at Semple Stadium, Thurles.

The sides were neck-and-neck throughout as the match developed into a shoot-out between the accurate Reid and Tipperary marksman Seamus Callinan.

Reid won the battle and his side duly won the war.

Tipperary's ability to transform defence into attack often discomfited their opponents and after Denis Maher, Niall O'Meara and Seamus Callinan had shared in a mini-blitz of points, Eamon O'Shea's feisty outfit appeared to have taken an even firmer grip on the game when John O'Dwyer rose high to touch home a sideline cut for a superb 30th minute goal.

That put his side 1-11 to 0-8 in front but Kilkenny lost no time in responding, although they benefitted substantially from a benign refereeing decision in this connection in the 32nd minute.

Quite how James Owens decided that Mark Kelly's charge into full-back Padraic Maher constituted a penalty award remains a mystery but Reid, whose free-taking had kept the Cats in contention up until then, flashed his effort into the net off a defender to put three points between the side and this was trimmed to just two at the break (1-11 to 1-9).

But a dogged Tipperary were always at their heels. A point in injury-time by Kieran Bergin brought them level at 2-17 to 1-20 and sent the game into extra-time.

With Richie Power assisting the accurate Reid who scored 2-11, Kilkenny led by 2-21 to 1-23 at half-time in extra-time before that rousing finish in which Reid emerged as the Cats' hero when he took a pass from Richie Hogan and swept over the winner score with only a few seconds left.

Kilkenny scorers: T J Reid 2-11 (2-0 pens, 0-8f, 0-1 '65'), R Hogan 0-6, R Power 0-3 (1f), P Walsh, M Fennelly 0-2 each, E Fennelly 0-1.

Tipperary scorers: S Callinan 0-9 (0-8f), J O'Dwyer 1-4, N McGrath 0-5, N O'Meara 0-3, D Maher, K Bergin 0-2 each, S Bourke, P Maher 0-1, each.

Referee: James Owens (Wexford)

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