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Red-hot Reid proves the Cats' whiskers in yet another title coup

Kilkenny 2-23 Tipperary2-17

By John Campbell

They may have made a tame start to the Allianz Hurling League by losing their first two matches but Kilkenny certainly finished their campaign in majestic fashion at Nowlan Park, Kilkenny by getting the better of Tipperary in an absorbing clash.

For the Cats, this will be viewed as the perfect precursor to the forthcoming All-Ireland Championship but their taciturn manager Brian Cody is unlikely to derive any false confidence given the ferocious display that Tipperary offered.

Indeed, it was the Munster side that led at half-time before they were eventually overhauled by a Kilkenny outfit that once more took their inspiration from the dynamic and supremely consistent T J Reid who landed 0-15 in a stunning solo show.

Reid's shoot-out with Tipperary marksman Jason Forde was not so much a sideshow as the real essence of the contest with the latter helping himself to 2-12 and continually sustaining his side's challenge with critical scores from play and frees.

By half-time both players had stamped their influence on the game to such an extent that their respective contributions were already under forensic examination.

Forde, with 1-6 to his credit at that juncture, had helped Tipperary to keep their noses in front (1-10 to 0-11) while Reid's eight points were central to Kilkenny's first-half scoring haul.

But Tipperary were to find scores rather harder to come by after the break and indeed it was left to Forde's accuracy from frees to keep them in the hunt.

It was full-forward Walter Walsh who fired in Kilkenny's first goal in the opening minute of the second -half and the team duly took further inspiration from this score.

The winners received a major boost eight minutes from the end when busy substitute Conor Fo garty surged through the Tipperary defence before thundering a superb drive to the net - a score that was to signal his team's cavalry-charge to victory.

Forde may have responded with his second Tipperary goal just three minutes later but for all this the force was very much with Cody's side.

With Reid still potting points with unerring accuracy and Paddy Deegan a colossus in defence, Kilkenny strode imperiously through the closing phase of the game to give manager Cody his ninth league title in what was an eighth successive win over Tipperary. And the teams' paths could well cross again this year in an even more demanding environment!

Kilkenny scorers: T J Reid 0-15 (12f), W Walsh 1-2, C Fogarty 1-0, J Donnelly 0-2, E Murphy, R Leahy, M Keoghan, L Blanchfield 0-1 each.

Tipperary scorers: J Forde 2-12 (1-10f, 1 '65'), J McGrath 0-2, S Kennedy, S Curran, W Connors 0-1.

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