This Sunday traditional rivals Kilkenny and Tipperary meet in the All Ireland Final.I look back at their 1991 meeting when they met after a gap of 20 years.

If you’d gone to the cinema in September 1991 you’d could have seen Arnold Schwarzenegger repeat the famous line “I’ll be back” in Terminator 2 Judgement day.

Tipp’s manager Bab’s Keating would have laughed at you if you had told him in 1971 it would 20 years before Tipp would be back in an All-Ireland against Kilkenny.

The barefoot wonder (after his had disregarded his boots and socks) on the field on that occasion now stood on the side-lines guiding the current team.

The Form

Tipp would be appearing in their third All Ireland final in 4 years after winning and losing one while the Cats were appearing in their first since the defeat to Galway 5 years earlier. They had last tasted success some 8 years earlier in the 1983 final against Cork.


While advertising their new offices in Cork that week bookmaker Paddy Power advertised odds of 100,000/1 of Elvis Presley appearing live in the city on September 2nd but they could easily have suggested the same for Kilkenny and Tipp at that start of 1991.

Failure to get out of their provinces the previous year was followed by Semi Final exits in that year’s league.

The Provinces

I’m too sexy from Right said Fred was gracing the charts that week and the suggestion was All Ireland champions Cork might have been thinking the same in the lead up to the Munster Final against Tipp. A mid table finish in the league was followed by a scrappy victory over a Waterford team far from the team that would emerge a decade later.

Tipp meanwhile convincingly saw off a Limerick celebrating 300 years “Treaty of Limerick” before arriving into Pairc Ui Chaoimh on a really wet July afternoon for the Munster Final.

A pulsating and dramatic game ended even thanks to a late late Pat Fox point. Hawkeye would of probably seen Tipp through though as Nicky English trying to get onto Jackie Charltons Ireland team kicked a high ball which was waved wide but most likely shouldn’t.

NE miss

Sequels to movies often don’t match the original, however like the previously mentioned Arnie as the Terminator the second game was equally as exciting. A combined score of 8-34 saw Tipp squeeze through with another dramatic conclusion as the post came to their rescue late on.

In Leinster Dublin experienced similar to the title of Jason Donovan’s hit that year “Any dream will do” by surprising Offaly in the semi and running Kilkenny close in the final. However the cats who had scrapped by Wexford in the semi crept over the line beating the Dubs by 2 points.

The Semi’s

Charlie Haugheys grip on power was sliding in the autumn of 1991. He was fighting off no confidence votes amidst a collection of scandals and Kilkennys championship felt equally in danger with each game. The expected routine Semi Final against Antrim was anything but.

The Cats like Kevin Costner’s Robin Hood in that years hit movie “stole” the game by 2 points in which the Northerners had great chances to claim the win having been level with a minute to go.


In the other semi Tipperary demolished Galway to qualify for the final on September 1st in Croke Park despite injuries concerns with star player Nicky English.

The night before the final Liam O’Murchu presented the uniquely Irish event “Up for the match” in all it’s splendour.  The show had the ability to entertain and cringe in equal measures.

The Final

The day itself was overcast but humid and over 64,000 packed in to a Croke Park.
The minor final which saw the same 2 counties paired together was won by Kilkenny thanks to a late PJ Delaney point leaving the score 0-15 to 1-10.

Kilkenny fans dominated Hill 16 with their black and amber flags while the blue and gold of Tipp covered the canal end.

Those in the know suggested this would be easy for Tipp but Kilkenny came out and closing down the Premier counties midfield and forwards frustrated their opponents. At half time the sides were even at 0-9 apiece.


At the start of the second half man of the match Pat Fox fired Tipp into a lead they wouldn’t give up. Then 10 minutes into the second half came the games turning point. Michael Cleary mishit a free and fortunately for Tipp it deflected off the keepers hurley into the net.

Tipp pressed on and with ten minutes looked to have control. But Kilkenny came back and heading in to additional time were only that goal behind before Fox knocked over a point to leave the final score Tipp 1-16 Kilkenny 0-15.

The Afters

Tipp Team

Eric idle would have a number one later in the year with the song from the Life of Brian “always look on the bright side of life” and Kilkenny would only need to wait 12 months to see it.

Tipperary would hold the Liam McCarthy cup aloft knowing like Bryan Adams in that year’s biggest chart success “Everything I do I do it for you.”

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