That was a pleasant surprise and what a great match. After giving up on the Tipp team as a skillful but spineless lot after the Cork match they confound me by hammering one of the greatest teams in the history of hurling. Albeit a team that seems now to be over the hill - two retirements since the final confirm this. What worried me about the Cork match wasn't the defeat - few teams win at Pairc Ui Chaoimh - it was the lack of response by Tipp to Cork's onslaught. It seems they lacked leadership and intestinal fortitude. But as the season progressed they turned they changed this perception. There were Pyrrhic victories over Wexford and Offaly and then they were really tested by Galway. They gave away a couple of soft goals and found themselves 2 points down with a couple of minutes to go. But they didn't panic and picked off a couple of points before Lar Corbett hit a superb winner in the last few seconds. The Waterford match was an anti-climax - Tipp were in control throughout and were particularly impressive defensively - with Paraic Maher superb.
Kilkenny had their 5 in a row and injury distractions but they seemed strangely subdued for much of the final - creating very little up front. Mind you this was the best defensive performance I have ever seen by a Tipp team - they were tireless and harried Kilkenny in packs. It must be hard to recreate the intensity required to win an All Ireland year after year. Tipp were younger and hungrier and the had learnt some of the dark arts from their clash with Kilkenny last year. Also, they kept the ball away for that force of nature Tommy Walsh. Brendan Maher epitomised all that was best - bursting forward from mid-field and launching the boys up front, while Kelly was clinical from the frees and Corbett applied the finishing touches.
One worrying aspect of the whole business was how even Cork fans were behind Tipp - a patronising situation that we need to sort out. This team is young enough to win 3 or 4 more in the next 5 or 6 years - that should do it