Tipperary v Kilkenny – 1916 to 2016: Part 2.
The 1916 Campaign and Final, and Johnny Leahy.
Tipperary, led by Boherlahan, began their campaign by trouncing Kerry up until "their hurlers walked off the grounds in a shower of rain", then overcame Limerick in the semi-final. Cork were soundly beaten in the Munster Final by 5-0 to 1-2, and Galway were put to the sword by 8-1 to 0-0 in the All-Ireland semi-final. Boherlahan, by then celebrated for their intensity and aggression, were in the 1916 All-Ireland Final.
Their opponents were Kilkenny who, just like their 2016 team, were on a roll. They had recently won no less then seven All-Irelands: in 1904, 1905, 1907, 1909, 1911, 1912, and 1913. The team was mostly from Tullaroan which, in 1886, had been the first Kilkenny team to wear the black and amber.
Tullaroan man "Sim" Walton (pictured below), who had already captained them to All-Ireland victories in 1911 and 1912, led Kilkenny. Johnny Leahy of Boherlahan led the Tipperary team. It was described as "The best hurling final for many years". A "large crowd" of about 5,000 attended and the action began at 12.15.
The Irish Independent, priced at One Halfpenny, reported on the match:
"The game for fifty minutes was fought out in the most stubborn fashion. Play was desperately keen in the first quarter, and 16 minutes had elapsed when the first score fell to Tipperary, who from this to the interval had slightly the better of the argument, leading by 1-2 to 0-1.
The game was again fast on resuming. Kilkenny beat off some attacks by their opponents, and playing in splendid style, took a lead of a goal and two points at three-quarter time. It seemed that they would repeat their victory of three years ago.
However, Tipperary called on for a special effort, responded in grand fashion, putting in some splendid execution and sweeping down on the Kilkenny posts. They ran in several scores, winning rather easily, and thus putting another All-Ireland honour to the credit of the Premier County. ..... The pace was very fast and the hurling magnificent."
Tipperary won by 5-4 to 4-2. Elsewhere it was stated that “The representatives of the old scientific school of hurling were hustled and bustled and dazzled out of its form by the rush and flash of what can only be described as the personification of Kickham’s ‘Magnificent Tipperary’.” At the end of the game occurred the famous exchange between the captains: "We were better hurlers than ye, Leahy," said Walton. "But we were the better men, Sim," replied Johnny.
Johnny Leahy led the Tipperary team later that same year again in the 1917 Final, which they lost to Dublin.
Tipperary and Kilkenny next met in the 1922 final, played in 1923. Once more Johnny Leahy captained Tipperary, but they were beaten by two late Kilkenny goals. This was Kilkenny's first occasion to lift the Liam McCarthy Cup, which had replaced the Great Southern Cup as the All-Ireland trophy, and it is hard to believe that Kilkenny would not beat Tipperary in the championship again for forty-five years.
Johnny Leahy later had the consolation of leading Tipperary to victory once again in the 1925 final against Galway.
Coming in Part 3: Later Tipperary v Kilkenny championship matches.