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Hurling Rewind: Kilkenny and Tipperary – Best of Rivals


Kilkenny and Tipperary’s rivalry is well illustrated from years of battles but Sunday’s explosive hurling League encounter added more rich history to these ferocious games which leave huge scores on the board and enter the minds as classics.

Surprisingly much of the rivalry has been based on recent years going back to 2009 but 2003 saw dramatic action. The League final in 2003 was a rollercoaster as the teams racked up ten goals with Kilkenny edging by 5-14 to 5-13. That year’s All-Ireland semi-final saw a high score line too, Kilkenny trouncing Tipperary 3-18 to 0-15, a twelve point defeat forcing Tipp fans into a long walk home.

Contests between the two sides were few and far in-between from 2003 to 2009 but a simple challenge match in 2004 was no dull affair seeing eight goals and twenty-nine points as Tipperary edged it by one.

2009 saw the dramatic ignition of a full scale rising of hurling powers that is still fiery and explosive. The League final resulted in Tipperary defeat even though they rifled four goals past the Kilkenny defense as the Noresiders won out scoring 2-16 after extra-time. That year’s All-Ireland final saw a rematch of the neighbours that is considered a classic among fans – Kilkenny too won that, earning their fourth consecutive Liam McCarthy.

Croke Park in 2010 was lucky town for the Premier County as they shocked Kilkenny 4-17 to 1-1, a wrecking ball to Kilkenny’s ‘drive for five’. After the 2010 All-Ireland victory, better days seemed to await Tipperary but since then, Kilkenny have roared back with a vengeance winning in every major final. Kilkenny won in the 2011 All-Ireland and the 2012 semi-final (scoring 4-24 in the process and won the final that year) and beat them by seven in the 2013 NHL decider. During this run where Kilkenny were worlds apart and won everything, the scores display just how magic Kilkenny were: the Cats scored eight goals in four major matches; Tipperary scored three and were bested on the points total too. Tipperary bucked the trend of Kilkenny victories but only fleetingly, winning at Thurles in the 2013 League.

Glory days for Kilkenny but Tipperary fans had little to do but endure this depression.  And endure they must still after local hero Colin Fennelly smashed Tipperary with a stunning 3-5 in Sunday’s rip-roaring League encounter which saw a dramatic ten goals – replicating the tally of the 2003 NHL final.

The damage Kilkenny have dealt Tipperary has been considerable. In games going back to 2003, the sides have squared off in the Championship six times and Tipperary have won just a single encounter while Kilkenny have taken five wins. In the League, Tipperary’s record is equally appalling, just one win in five games, Kilkenny have taken four wins and in all have been beaten in just two out of eleven contests. Although Kilkenny dominate, it doesn’t lessen the quality and excitement of the hurling, the 2009 and the following year’s final are considered among the best finals ever while the 2003, 2009 and now 2014’s League games are among the most exciting ever played. 25 goals have been scored in all.

However despite these monumental clashes, Tipperary fans more often than not find themselves out in the streets after these epics and are waiting on a sunny day for when they can get back to the promised land. Kilkenny meanwhile keep rolling on. Living proof of the dominance that sport can experience.

Pundit Arena, Luke Lonergan.

Featured Image JP [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons.

About Luke Lonergan

Luke Lonergan
Luke Lonergan is a graduate of University College Cork with BA (Hons) and MA in History. Born in Tipperary and a follower of Manchester United and the New England Patriots but the real passion lies with hurling as an ardent supporter of Tipperary (where life has been difficult since 2010) and enthusiast of the game. You can follow Luke on Twitter: @Luke_Lonergan.