The 2019 All-Ireland hurling final was billed as a clash of the titans with most supporters predicting the final result would be close.
But that’s not how it turned out. In the end, it was the scale of the victory by Tipperary that stunned. Or the scale of the defeat by Brian Cody’s Kilkenny team.
For the Premier County, a 14-point win over the Cats must have been the stuff of dreams, but their epic win saw them storm home to pick up their 28th All-Ireland title.
Their tour-de-force performance in the second half was a masterclass in hurling.
At the end of the match, a stunned Tipperary supporter said: “Obviously, it’s a great result for us, but we were expecting more from Kilkenny.”
There will be plenty of time in the weeks ahead for the Cats to determine where it all went so wrong.
But there were boos in Croke Park at half-time as Kilkenny supporters expressed their unhappiness at the red card shown to Richie Hogan for a challenge on Tipp’s Cathal Barrett two minutes before the break.
Only one point separated the teams at half time, with Tipperary in the lead.
But Liam Sheedy’s men began the second half electrified by an early second goal from captain Seamus Callanan and from there on in there was no stopping them.
The Kilkenny players battled bravely, but seemed to have no answer to the Tipp onslaught, in conditions that were extremely difficult at times with frequent driving rain.
But it was Tipp’s day, and the Liam MacCarthy Cup was won in a most decisive manner with the final scoreline of 3-25 to Tipperary and 0-20 to Kilkenny.
What a moment of joy it was for their supporters as Callanan hoisted the cup. He paid tribute to the 40 men on the panel “who have given everything to the blue and gold jersey”.
The ecstatic captain said: “This is just incredible. It’s everything we f***ing dreamed of,” when being interviewed afterwards on the pitch for ‘The Sunday Game’.
Among the supporters who were there to cheer Tipp on was Conor O’Donovan, who played full-back on the team that won against Antrim in 1989 in the All-Ireland final. His daughter Emma wore the number three jersey her dad wore in the ’89 final to the match yesterday.
“It’s a great win for Tipperary and very much well deserved,” he told the Irish Independent.
“I suppose one of the key talking points of the game was Richie Hogan’s sending off.
“However, I do think Tipperary were getting on top at that stage, and we probably would have seen them winning the game.”
He said Niall O’Meara’s goal in the first half was a key moment.
“I think whichever team got the goal first in that game, it was going to be a big boost to their chances.
“Kilkenny up to that point had kind of been in control of the game, but then when Niall O’Meara got the goal, it gave a fresh impetus to Tipperary’s attack and I thought from that point onwards they were looking good.”
He added that it was great that Callanan scored a goal because “it meant he scored a goal in every single championship game this year”.
He said the county would enjoy the win. “When we won in 1989, it had been 18 years since Tipperary had previously won the All-Ireland in 1971.
“There has been a great tradition in Tipperary of winning one All-Ireland at least in every decade. In this decade, we have won three – 2010, 2016 and 2019.
“Every All-Ireland is very much savoured. A lot of people of my vintage went through the famine years. They know what it’s like to go through a long lean spell without winning an All-Ireland.
“They have great supporters. They turn out in their thousands, and they will be there tonight to welcome them home as All-Ireland heroes.”
Meanwhile, Kilkenny supporter Ella Walsh, a teacher from Kells, Co Meath, said the result was disappointing.
“It just wasn’t our day. It wasn’t as close as people thought it would be. The three goals killed us and we didn’t seem to have a back-up plan.”