Fans ponder ‘what ifs’ after Tipperary’s loss to Kilkenny

Tipp defender Padraic Maher in action against Kilkenny in Nowlan Park.
In a game where every block, catch, race for possession and tackle was of crucial importance, there was a four minute spell during the second half when the opportunity to force Kilkenny to have to chase the game was spurned.

In a game where every block, catch, race for possession and tackle was of crucial importance, there was a four minute spell during the second half when the opportunity to force Kilkenny to have to chase the game was spurned.

It was preceded by a late blow to Brendan Maher who late on in the first half had been switched to midfield with Shane McGrath moving to wing back.

Maher had an excellent first half and moving him to midfield instead of the less productive McGrath strengthened Tipp in that area where James Woodlock’s workrate and surging runs were a feature of Tipp’s challenge.

Maher however suffered a late blow after the ball was gone from Walter Walsh three minutes into the second half and after that his influence on the game suffered.

In the next four minute spell, however, Tipperary created the chances to put some daylight between themselves and Kilkenny and failed to grasp the opportunity.

John O’Brien had just put Tipp one point ahead, 1.8 to 0.10, with his most meaningful contribution to the game when Tipp were given a chance to extend that lead.

Eoin Kelly howver missed his first free of the game after thirty nine minutes and a minute later the Mullinahone man was denied what would have been a game changing goal.

Kelly was picked out in space by Woodlock but as he delivered his strike, JJ Delaney put his body on the line and the fiercely struck shot was blocked by Delaney’s outstretched hand.

It was an outstanding piece of defending and the greatest championship Tipp marksman of all time was denied what would have been one of the most important goals he would have scored in his illustrious career.

That was compounded seconds later when the subsequent ‘65 was sent wide by Kelly and a minute later an Eoin Larkin free brought Kilkenny level at 1.8 to 0-11 and Tipp’s spell of dominance made no impact on the scoreboard.