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Published: 16:46 | 4/9/16

Terrific Tipp too good for Cats

Tipperary are the All-Ireland SHC champions for 2016 after they produced a brilliant display to overpower Kilkenny by 2-29 to 2-20 in a cracking final at Croke Park.

Despite being the underdogs with the bookmakers and many observers, the Premier County were a class above their illustrious opponents throughout the 70 minutes.

Although the Cats only trailed by two points at the break, the writing was on the wall after a first half in which Tipp outscored them two-to-one from open play and although a goal from Kevin Kelly on 41 minutes edged them in front, there was nothing they could do once their opponents began to take full advantage of the many opportunities they were creating.

Tipperary's full forward were incredible, led by Seamus Callanan who produced a masterclass in finishing to register a barely believable 0-13 from open play.

Having gone behind to Kelly's goal, it was the outstanding John 'Bubbles' O'Dwyer's clinical goal six minutes later which put Michael Ryan's side ahead and once they re-established their lead, they never looked like relinquishing it.

Callanan, O'Dwyer and John McGrath notched 2-21 between them, a stunning total against opponents who were looking for their third Liam McCarthy cup on-the-spin.

The challenge which Tipp faced was summed up by the fact that since they beat Kilkenny to win their last All-Ireland title in 2010, they had lost nine of 11 meetings with Brian Cody's men with their only victories coming in the lower stage of the Allianz League.

The early stages of the game pointed to a tight, thrilling encounter with the sides level on nine occasions - Kilkenny usually getting their noses in front before being hauled back to parity - until Tipperary took the lead approaching the break with an O'Dwyer free ensuring they led 0-16 to 0-14 at the interval.

The number of wides which Tipp hit in the first period gave Kilkenny the chance to stay in touch and it was TJ Reid with six points from the deadball who kept them in the hunt.

The defending champions started the second half in top gear and Kelly's goal sent them ahead by 1-14 to 0-15.

But Tipp hit 1-3 without reply, including that superb individual effort from O'Dwyer, to go five points ahead and although Reid stopped the rot with yet another free, Tipperary were rampant with McGrath, O'Dwyer and Callanan too good for the Kilkenny backs.

McGrath's three-pointer with 10 minutes left, after he was fed by his older brother Noel, looked like it was game, set and match for Tipperary but Richie Hogan at the other end replied almost immediately with a great finish off the ground.

However, any hopes of a dramatic comeback were quickly extinguished as Callanan grabbed his 12th and 13th points of the game while Bonner Maher's second of the day meant Tipp won by a huge nine-point margin.

While Kilkenny will admit they were second best to a superior side, some of their supporters will wonder why Cody made no changes particularly with Tipp's full-forward line so dominant.

But no matter what Cody did - and it's tricky challenging the actions of such a celebrated manager - it would have been in vain as Tipperary produced a performance for the ages to secure their 27th All-Ireland SHC crown.

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