By Daragh Ë Conch·ir
Nicole Walsh’s pointed free two minutes from the end of normal time set the seal on a magnificent comeback as Tipperary overturned a nine-point interval deficit to win the All-Ireland minor A title at Semple Stadium.
The winners got off to a brilliant start with a fourth minute goal by Sarah Fryday but failed to score for the remainder of the half as Kilkenny dominated proceedings.
Points from Claire Phelan, Orla Hanrick and Aisling Curtis had the teams level by the time the excellent Phelan goaled in the 11th minute after Lydia Fitzpatrick split the Tipperary defence open with a blistering run.
With Grace Walsh dominant at centre-back and a strong wind in their favour, Kilkenny continued to drive forward. Miriam Walsh and Curtis added points before a Hanrick goal on the stroke of half time had them in a commanding position at the interval, leading by 2-6 to 1-0.
Tipperary had already made two changes by that stage and the introduction of Anne Eviston was significant, as the Drom & Inch player went on to give a performance that earned her the player of the match award.
Tim Meagher’s side started the second half in similar fashion to the first, with Fryday goaling three minutes after the resumption.
The task of pegging back Kilkenny was helped considerably by Fryday when the senior player goaled three minutes after the resumption. Brid Quinn landed a point before Michaela Graham reacted quickest when -ine Kinsella batted out a Walsh free to bury the sliotar to the net.
When Tara Kennedy raised a white flag soon after, the margin was down to the minimum entering the final quarter.
Fitzpatrick showed good nerve to convert a 45 and a free to stretch the lead to three points once again however, and Kilkenny were looking good.
Crucially though, Walsh restored parity with a 52nd minute goal. Kilkenny’s Emma Kavanagh and Tipperary’s Alice Fogarty exchanged scores before Walsh came up trumps to clinch the honours.
Tipperary: O McEniry; JA Burke, S Ryan, L McLoughlin; C Quirke, A Cremin, M Barry; B Quinn 0-1, C Maher; A Loughnane, E Fryday, N Walsh 1-1(0-1f); S Fryday 2-0, M Graham 1-0, C McGrath. Subs: A Eviston for Barry; T Ryan for Loughnane; T Kennedy 0-1 for Loughnane; A Fogarty 0-1 for McGrath; M Teehan for Quinn
Kilkenny: A Kinsella; N Phelan, J Cunningham, L Norris; M Farrell, G Walsh, N Maher; K Holland, K Hamilton; L Fitzpatrick 0-2(1f, 1 45), C Phelan 1-1, M Walsh 0-2; A Curtis 0-2, O Hanrick 1-1, A Murphy. Sub: E Kavanagh 0-1 for Curtis
Referee: M O’Kelly (Cork)