The Cats must fight it out for top-flight hurling in 2016 after suffering a third successive competitive defeat – the first time that has happened in Cody’s tenure at the helm.
And Kilkenny’s final group outing against Clare next weekend could well turn out to be a dress rehearsal for a winner-takes-all clash to retain Division IA status.
Goals in either half from Séamus Callanan and Niall O’Meara made it three wins on the spin for Tipp – and confirmed their place in the quarter-finals. This was Tipp’s first victory over Kilkenny since a League success two years ago – and just their second in the last 12 League and championship outings against their ancient rivals.
Tipp had nine players on the scoresheet and by half-time, the hosts were seven points clear – 1-16 to 1-9. It was a gripping first half in front of 10,421 spectators, with the sides sharing 27 scores between them before the interval.
The scoring rate dropped substantially in the second half, as Hogan saw his 42nd minute penalty saved on the line by Brendan Maher, and with Tipp in cruise control, the closing stages were played at almost challenge match pace.
But right from the start, there had been a championship feel to proceedings as both sides went at it. Kilkenny would ultimately suffer from the absence of key names but Hurler of the Year Richie Hogan was on his game, shooting all of Kilkenny’s first half points.
Hogan’s influence on proceedings was far less dramatic in the second half as Tipp plugged the spaces in which Hogan had excelled before half-time. And when Callanan set up O’Meara for a 54th minute goal, Tipp were eleven points clear, 2-18 to 1-10.
Tipp were 13 points ahead before the final whistle and won pulling up with 12 to spare in front of a triumphant home crowd. Callanan’s fourth minute goal set Tipp on the road to victory – after Jonjo Farrell had netted after just 16 seconds for Kilkenny.
Scorers for Tipperary: S Callanan 1-7 (3f, 1 '65'), N O’Meara 1-2, J O’Dwyer 0-4, N McGrath 0-3, M Breen 0-2, P Maher 0-1, J Woodlock 0-1, J Forde 0-1, S Bourke 0-1.
Scorers for Kilkenny: R Hogan 0-10 (6f), J Farrell 1-1, M Kelly 0-1, J Power 0-1 (1 '65')
TIPPERARY: D Gleeson; P Curran, C O’Mahony, C Barrett; M Breen, P Maher, R Maher; K Bergin, J Woodlock; J O’Dwyer, B Maher, J Forde; N McGrath, S Callanan, N O’Meara. Subs: C O’Brien for Curran (inj, 29), S McGrath for Forde (51), J McGrath for O’Meara (59), S Bourke for N McGrath (62), D Egan for Gleeson (inj, 65).
KILKENNY: E Murphy; S Prendergast, P Murphy, J Tyrrell; B Kennedy, K Joyce, C Buckley; M Kelly, L Ryan; W Walsh, R Hogan, M Ruth; J Farrell, J Power, G Aylward. Subs: K Kelly for Aylward (h.t.), J Lyng for Ryan (48)
Referee: J McGrath (Westmeath).
Report: Jackie Cahill