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Tipperary 2-29 Kilkenny 2-20: Final played in right spirit great advert for hurling

By Declan Bogue

Dublin city, Sunday evening.

Already, the whitewash from the middle of the Croke Park pitch that spelled out 'GAA', 'Iomaint' and '2016' has been scrubbed out, beginning the process of preparing for next weekend's camogie finals.

Down by the Canal End, the penalty spot and general vicinity is getting treated by the heat lamps.

Time moves on in this place. It moves on for great teams too and what we witnessed in this final was very public for Kilkenny and the most successful manager in the game, Brian Cody.

In his 18th season in charge, we had rarely spotted him as animated and the smile he produced at the final whistle of their heroic semi-final replay win over Waterford said it all. He had something of the carnivore as his eye teeth glistened under the Semple Stadium lights that night.

We can only guess it was because that win, that series of games, got to the essence of Cody. We were looking at a panel that has become frayed around the edges, carrying legends such as Jackie Tyrell as ornamentation on the panel. Not the most talented group, with some players coming in for serious criticism.

And yet they found a way, in a True Grit kinda way, to get to another final. What they found though was a Tipperary team that were not prepared to continue their dire run against their neighbours. Since Lar Corbett's goalfest of the 2010 final, they had lost four times and drew once with the Cats. Something had to give.

A game for the ages, for sure. But don't we say that about every hurling final nowadays?

God save us from the type of loon that loves nothing better than to compare sports and rank them in some order of importance in terms of identity, sense of place and passion.

But on days like the All-Ireland final, I would have more patience for the hurling zealot. I would indulge the argument and allow them sufficient airtime.

After all, the proof is right there in front of us. This game couldn't have been played harder by the players. And yet there wasn't a single card of either red or yellow.

Both sides got a measly 12 frees each.

If we want to draw a direct line of comparison with Gaelic football, Tipperary were winning at the end and yet there were no attempts to slow the play down. Referee Brian Gavin had a marvellous game, in the sense that nobody noticed him, which is the best any referee could hope for.

Tipperary are worthy champions with Seamus Callanan producing one of the great All-Ireland performances with his Baker's Dozen of points.

Marvellous, all round.

Belfast Telegraph


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