Electric Ireland MHC: Galway defeat Kilkenny
Electric Ireland Minor Hurling Championship Quarter-Final Round Two
GALWAY 3-16 KILKENNY 2-16
By Paul Keane at Croke Park
Brave Galway held firm in a remarkable All-Ireland minor quarter-final group stage contest at Croke Park, relinquishing up a 12-point lead before recovering to record a precious win.
In their first game of the summer the back to back All-Ireland champions looked to have sewn up the win by half-time when they led 2-10 to 0-6.
They were as much as a dozen points clear a few minutes earlier as they started at breakneck pace and capitalised on two goals from Greg Thomas.
But a thrilling third quarter comeback from Kilkenny, beaten by Galway in last year's minor final, saw the deficit wiped out entirely by the 48th minute and left it at 2-12 apiece.
Ian Byrne had a huge impact as a sub for Kilkenny and struck 2-2 in total in the second-half.
But the beaten Leinster finalists just couldn't push ahead and Galway's third goal in the 50th minute from Sean McDonagh, who finished with 1-7 decided a rip-roaring contest.
It leaves Galway in a strong position with one win from one while Kilkenny have now beaten Clare and lost to Galway in the three-team group.
Kilkenny had already played six games, five of those in the Leinster championship as well as their win over Clare, yet couldn't initially bring that momentum to bear on Galway.
Brian Hanley's Galway side looked hungry and sharp from the off and took a lead into the fifth minute that they'd hold throughout, save for a brief period in the second-half.
They consistently troubled the Kilkenny defence with their ability to mix up the play, picking off a series of points from distance and also running hard at them.
McDonagh excelled with a string of points from long range and Thomas swooped for two excellent goals after the ball was worked in closer to goal.
His first came in the eighth minute when he collected a pass on the edge of the D, exploded away from his man and blasted in from the right.
Thomas' second came from a long delivery when he snatched the ball out of the air and hammered it home a minute before the break.
It left Galway sitting pretty with that big half-time lead but it all turned for them in the second-half as Kilkenny came roaring back into the contest.
They held all the momentum when they got it back to level pegging with 10 minutes to go but that McDonagh goal and points from sub Alex Connaire and Colm Molloy eased them to a crucial win.
Scorers for Galway: Sean McDonagh 1-7 (3fs), Greg Thomas 2-2, Gavin Lee 0-2, Alex Connaire 0-2, Liam Leen 0-1, Tiernan Killeen 0-1, Colm Molloy 0-1.
Scorers for Kilkenny: Ian Byrne 2-2 (1f), Billy Drennan 0-6 (6fs), Timmy Clifford 0-2, Pierce Blanchfield 0-2, Colman O'Sullivan 0-1, Peter McDonald 0-1, Liam Moore 0-1, Braedon Wheeler 0-1.
GALWAY: Michael Egan; Eanna Davoren, Eoin Lawless, Adam Nolan; Enda Collins, Ian McGlynn, Christy Brennan; Liam Leen, Oisin Slevin; Tiernan Killeen, Sean McDonagh, Colm Cunningham; Gavin Lee, Shane Morgan, Greg Thomas.
Subs: Alex Connaire for Slevin (41), Paddy Cummins for Lee (50), Sean O'Hanlon for Leen (53), Ryan Howley for Collins (55), Colm Molloy for Killeen (58).
KILKENNY: Aidan Tallis; Peter McDonald, William Halpin, Tristan Roche; Billy Reid, Padraic Moylan, James Aylward; Andy Hickey, Denis Walsh; Pierce Blanchfield, Liam Moore, Jack Doyle; Billy Drennan, Timmy Clifford, Colm O'Sullivan.
Subs: Ian Byrne for Hickey (h/t), Zach Bay Hammond for Walsh (h/t), Braedon Wheeler for Doyle (59), Seanan Doyle for Drennan (60).
REFEREE: Thomas Walsh (Waterford).