Two Michael Fennelly goals in the first half set the All-Ireland champions up for another league crown, achieved in the absence of their manager Bran Cody, who is recovering from heart surgery. Fennelly rifled home a third minute goal to give Kilkenny an early boost, and after Tipp had fought back with points from Eoin Kelly, Noel McGrath and Seamus Callanan, Fennelly fired in a second goal from a tight angle in the 21st minute. Press Association Once again, the Premier county battled their way back into the game, hitting quality scores through Brendan Maher (3), Kelly and Noel McGrath. But late scores from Lester Ryan and Fennelly sent the Cats in with a 2-7 to 0-11 interval lead. Brendan Maher brought Tipperary level with his fourth point midway through the second half, moments after a flare-up had resulted in the straight red card dismissals of Kilkenny full back JJ Delaney and Tipp attacker Lar Corbett. Kilkenny pushed on in the closing stages with Eoin Larkin, Ryan and Michael Rice hitting the points that saw them over the finish line. Kilkenny retained their National Hurling League title with a 2-17 to 0-20 win over Tipperary at Nowlan Park.