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Tipp threatened to fleece Cats

by Jimmy Rhatigan
Pics by Donal Foley

CIRCA half a century ago a flock of local sheep enjoyed the breakfast, dinner and tea that the hallowed soil of Nowlan Park provided.

Last Sunday, Kilkenny supporters provided their very own silence of the lambs scenario as the old enemy Tipp bossed the first half of their National League game and there were few, if any, reasons to be happy hurling buddies.

The energy-dripping visitors were full if beans and as a dreary half wobbled to an interval cuppa the fear had to be that the Tipp boys would fleece our Cats in their own backyard.

A few substitutions by gaffer Derek Lyng followed what was probably a saucy team talk and it was Kilkenny’s turn to dominate as Tipp wobbled from hero to zero.

Subdued home fans finally found their voices and when their mainly young and inexperienced side whittled a substantial half time lead down to four points, a Marriage Feast of Cana miracle-like water to wine was a possibility.

But wishful thinking was scuttled by some excellent point scoring by the Munster men and the final gap between the teams was six points.

Following a win against Antrim in Belfast, Kilkenny had to grapple with second best.

The tie was a kind of operation experiment that no doubt will be forensically examined by Derek Lyng and his selectors.

Some supporters may have returned to their homes somewhat disgruntled but local optimists will remind that Kilkenny was without a hard core of talented warriors and others who will add experience and expertise to future battles.

The league is an acknowledged training ground for the Grand National of the All-Ireland Senior Hurling Championship.

The MacCarthy Cup is the Holy Grail. There will be many tough fences to be jumped by our Cats but by then the team should be well able to hold its own in any company.

Instead of counting sheep, supporters will be looking forward to bringing home the bacon.

Later in the year, should Kilkenny renew its love affair with Liam MacCarthy, then few if any will remember the February dull affair where Kilkenny and Tipp did their best to entertain but failed miserably.

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