TJ Reid fired over the winning score deep into injury time in extra time as Kilkenny completed a hat-trick of Allianz HL Division 1 titles with a 2-25 to 1-27 victory over Tipperary at Semple Stadium.
Reid struck in stoppage time at the end of extra-time to earn a sensational victory for the Cats at Semple Stadium.
Ballyhale Shamrocks star Reid scored an incredible individual tally of 2-11 as Kilkenny claimed a third League title in-a-row.
And in a repeat of last year’s decider, it was Reid who combined brilliantly with Richie Hogan from a late sideline to create the opening for the winning point.
Tipperary goalkeeper Darren Gleeson had the chance to launch the ball deep into enemy territory but he struck the sliotar out of play and Kilkenny took that one last chance to snatch the silverware from a tie that was level eleven times.
Reid played the sideline into the hand of Hogan, scorer of six points himself, before collecting the return and flashing over the winning score.
21,601 spectators finally had themselves a winner as Kilkenny struck another big psychological blow ahead of the summer.
Since winning the 2010 All-Ireland final, Tipp have failed in games of huge consequence against Kilkenny, losing the 2011 All-Ireland final, the 2012 semi-final, last year’s qualifier and now two League finals.
Kieran Bergin’s point in the fourth minute of injury-time at the end of the regulation 70 minutes had taken the game into extra-time.
Bergin fired over after taking a pass from Patrick ‘Bonner’ Maher, seconds after John ‘Bubbles’ O’Dwyer struck the upright with a long-range free.
On the balance of play, Tipp deserved a draw, having rallied from two points down to ensure two extra ten-minute periods as the game finished 2-17 to 1-20 after 70 minutes
2011 Hurler of the Year Michael Fennelly had popped over two points to establish a potentially match-winning lead but Shane Bourke and Bergin responded for Tipp.
At half-time, Tipp were 1-11 to 1-09 clear and after netting one first half penalty, Reid buried another in the 51st minute, after Cathal Barrett fouled Reid.
That unstoppable drive tied the scores at 2-11 to 1-14 and the sides were level on four more occasions before full-time.
This one really mattered to Kilkenny boss Brian Cody, who exchanged heated words with an official seated in the opposition dugout during the first half.
Cody’s obvious anger was a clear indication of how badly he wanted to capture the eighth league crown of his remarkable tenure.
And the Cats, who registered seven wides in the first half, came from six points down to remain very much in touch at the break.
A superb goal by John ‘Bubbles’ O’Dwyer on the half-hour put Tipp 1-11 to 0-08 clear, as the Killenaule man connected brilliantly with Noel McGrath’s sideline cut to touch the ball to the net from the edge of the square.
But Kilkenny rallied with a Reid free, his fifth of the half, and Reid scored a penalty just before the interval after Pádraic Maher was adjudged to have fouled Mark Kelly.
It was very much a case of ‘six of one, half a dozen of the other’ as Kelly attempted to barrel his way through but referee James Owens awarded the penalty.
Reid stepped up with an Anthony Nash-esque lift and his effort, while not particularly well struck, still managed to find the net through goalkeeper Darren Gleeson.
The Kilkenny goal was a body-blow to Tipp as the hosts recovered from a sluggish start that saw them trail by 0-00 to 0-04 within six minutes.
Tipp bagged three points to settle themselves before Kilkenny were awarded a disputed eleventh minute point, despite TV pictures showing that Colin Fennelly’s effort drifted wide.
Tipp were on terms by the 18th minute – 0-06 apiece – and moved ahead when Niall O’Meara popped over a 20th minute score.
Further points followed from goalscorer O’Dwyer and O’Meara before Reid floated over a 25th minute free.
Denis Maher and Richie Hogan traded points before Patrick ‘Bonner’ Maher’s 28th minute point ensured that all six of Tipp’s starting forwards, and both midfielders, were now on the scoresheet.
Remarkably, the only one of that front eight not to score from play in that spell was Seamus Callanan, who had registered 5-52 in his previous six League outings.
Callanan was later substituted but returned in extra-time and saw a late chance brilliantly saved by Kilkenny goalkeeper Eoin Murphy.
KILKENNY: E Murphy; P Murphy, JJ Delaney, B Kennedy; J Holden, J Tyrrell, C Buckley; M Fennelly (0-02), P Walsh (0-02); C Fennelly (0-01), R Hogan (0-06), TJ Reid (2-11, 2-00 pen, 8f, 1 65); R Power (0-03, 1f), M Kelly, H Shefflin.
Subs: L Ryan for Holden (29), W Walsh for Kelly (43), E Larkin for C Fennelly (60), C Fennelly for Shefflin (74), K Joyce for Kennedy (86).
TIPPERARY: D Gleeson; C Barrett, Pádraic Maher, M Cahill; J Barry, B Maher, C O’Mahony; K Bergin (0-01), J Woodlock (0-01); D Maher (0-02), Patrick Maher (0-01), J O’Dwyer (1-03); N McGrath (0-05,1 sl), S Callanan (0-09, 8f, 1 65), N O’Meara (0-02).
Subs: T Stapleton for B Maher (temp, 45-46), G Ryan for D Maher (54), S McGrath for Woodlock (76), S Bourke (0-01) for O’Meara (62), J O’Brien for Callanan (69), S Callanan for J O’Brien (76), J O’Brien for O’Dwyer (80), J O’Dwyer for Bourke (88).
Referee: J Owens (Wexford).