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Cats stay in hunt for All-Ireland glory as Tipp secure final spot

Kilkenny 2-19 Waterford 2-17

By John Campbell

Kilkenny's Brian Cody has long since been assured of his status as one of the greatest-ever hurling managers.

Yet if there were awards to be dished out for straight talking as opposed to seeking refuge in clichés and platitudes, Cats boss Cody might just find himself stepping up to the rostrum.

When his side eventually eased Waterford out of the All-Ireland title race in a tough, turbulent but utterly compelling replay at the weekend by 2-19 to 2-17, Cody's touchline altercation with his Waterford counterpart Derek McGrath was just one of a series of fascinating cameos.

Far from seeking to minimise the tension and passion that whirled throughout the game both on and off the field, Cody typically shot from the hip.

"If a human being could stand on the sideline in a game like that and not be animated and not be passionate and not be annoyed at times and thrilled at times, you would be slightly abnormal," he declared.

Kilkenny only eventually quelled what Cody described as "a phenomenal threat" when Richie Hogan swept over the insurance point after the heroic Pauric Mahoney, 0-9, had just failed to give Waterford the edge moments earlier.

Ciaran Fennelly's two goals and a seven-point contribution from TJ Reid stood the Cats in good stead against a frenetic, totally committed Waterford side that played themselves to a standstill.

Goals from Austin Gleeson and Jake Dillon helped to sustain Waterford's challenge but, just as they have done so often in the past, Kilkenny held firm as only they can in the closing few minutes to secure their place in the final.

If the Kilkenny v Waterford clash proved captivating, then the set-to between Tipperary and Galway in the other semi-final further helped to put the current nondescript football championship to shame.

Two goals within a 90-seconds window in the second-half from John O'Dwyer and John McGrath helped to swing the pendulum in Tipperary's favour thus allowing them to book their place in the final against the Cats on a 2-19 to 2-18 scoreline.

The sides were level on no fewer than nine occasions and although Galway held the whip hand at the interval when they were ahead at 1-10 to 0-11, they were dealt a savage blow when scorer-in-chief Joe Canning was unable to come out for the second-half because of a hamstring injury.

In his absence the Galway attack looked a lot less sharp and although the Cooneys, Joe and Conor, managed to keep the scoreboard ticking over, the Tipperary defenders mopped up a lot of possession.

McGrath's goal gave Tipperary a 2-19 to 2-16 lead and although Galway battled to the end, the Munster side, for whom Seamus Callanan scored nine points from frees, held out.

Relief was the overriding emotion exhibited by Tipperary manager Michael Ryan at the end of an epic encounter during which his side had looked vulnerable on occasions yet always managed to maintain an intense work-rate that ultimately proved their passport into the decider.

"We knew it was going to be tough and that's exactly how it turned out," he said.

It cetainly sets up what promises to be a Croke Park thriller on September 4.

Belfast Telegraph


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