Leinster SHC: Cats claw Galway in second-half
Leinster Senior Hurling Championship Final
KILKENNY 1-26 GALWAY 0-22
By Paul Keane
A typically storming second-half from Kilkenny, inspired by the introduction of Richie Hogan, secured a 71st Leinster SHC title for the Cats and a remarkable 15th of the Brian Cody era.
Kilkenny trailed by three points at half-time, the same as last year's All-Ireland final against Galway, but just like last September fought back strongly again for a comfortable victory. Hogan came on for the second-half following a hand injury and scored five points while John Power, who also came on, contributed an important point and played strongly.
Jonjo Farrell's 45th minute goal tied the game up and Kilkenny never looked back after that, pushing on for an impressive win and an All-Ireland semi-final place. Cillian Buckley was excellent in defence while Conor Fogarty and Michael Fennelly dominated midfield in the second-half and TJ Reid contributed 10 points.
Galway surprisingly bossed the first-half, however, and hit the interval with a deserved three-point lead. Cathal Mannion was their key man this time with four points from play as they played a deep lying game and hit Kilkenny on the break.
Joe Canning didn't score from play in the game but contributed four first-half points from frees in that period and set up one of Mannion's points. Kilkenny led for just two minutes of the half, at 0-6 to 0-5, and found themselves in Galway's slipstream for the most part.
They scored just five points from play in the first-half and went from the 15th minute to deep into injury-time without hitting one from play. Kilkenny, of course, fought back strongly to win last year's All-Ireland decider and burned off Dublin with a third quarter burst of scoring in the recent Leinster semi-final.
The expectation was that they would raise their game again and they duly delivered, introducing Hogan and Power to the game with immediate positive consequences. Hogan scored a point with his first touch followed by scores from Fogarty and Reid before Kilkenny levelled it up at 1-13 to 0-16 with Farrell's goal.
Fogarty played the pop pass over the top of Galway's defence and Farrell applied the finish, albeit a scuffed low effort that went through goalkeeper Colm Callanan's legs. Suddenly, Kilkenny were high on confidence and capitalised on their momentum to sprint four points clear, Hogan and Power both on the mark with points.
With 10 minutes to go, Kilkenny found themselves in a familiar position with a 1-21 to 0-19 lead and getting better as the game wore on. They didn't let up from there with Reid, Hogan and Fogarty all on the mark late on.
Scorers for Kilkenny: TJ Reid 0-10 (0-7f, 1 65), J Farrell 1-4, R Hogan 0-5, C Fogarty 0-3, W Walsh 0-2, J Power 0-1, M Fennelly 0-1.
*Scorers for Galway: *J Canning 0-6 (0-6f), C Mannion 0-5, C Cooney 0-3, C Whelan 0-3, J Cooney 0-2, D Glennon 0-1, C Donnellan 0-1, A Smith 0-1.
Kilkenny: E Murphy; P Murphy, J Holden, R Lennon; P Walsh, K Joyce, C Buckley; C Fogarty, M Fennelly; W Walsh, C Fennelly, L Ryan; J Farrell, TJ Reid, E Larkin. Subs: R Hogan for Larkin h/t, J Power for Fennelly (h/t).
Galway: *C Callanan; P Mannion, Daithi Burke, J Coen; G McInerney, J Hanbury, A Harte; David Burke, D Glennon; N Burke, J Cooney, C Cooney; C Whelan, J Canning, C Mannion. *Subs: C Donnellan for J Cooney (46), F Moore for Coen (53), J Flynn for N Burke (57), A Smith for Glennon (59), P Killeen for Hanbury (66).
Referee: F Horgan (Tipperary)