Kilkenny see off Galway to win another All-Ireland title

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Kilkenny's Joey Holden celebrates with the Liam McCarthy Cup

Kilkenny 1-22 Galway 1-18

Kilkenny have won a 36th All-Ireland title after defeating Galway in an absorbing final at Croke Park.

A dominant second half display saw the Noresiders overturn a three-point deficit to smash Galway’s hopes of lifting the Liam MacCarthy Cup for the first time since 1988.

Kilkenny significantly upped the intensity levels in the second half to blow away their opposition, after a below-par first half display.

Victory ensures another Leinster and All-Ireland double for Kilkenny, with Galway defeated in both finals.

And in his 17th season at the helm, manager Brian Cody has masterminded an eleventh MacCarthy Cup success.

Kilkenny struggled in the first half and yet only found themselves three points behind at the break, 1-08 to 0-14.

The Cats could argue too, with some justification, that Galway were lucky to finish the half with 15 men.

Johnny Coen caught Colin Fennelly with a neck-high challenge approaching the break but referee James Owens opted for a yellow card, when there could have been few quibbles with red.

From the start, Kilkenny opted for Walter Walsh on the edge of the square in a two-man inside line but there was plenty of rotation in attack.

The mix didn’t seem quite right, however, and not even the oxygen of TJ Reid’s 13th minute goal could spark them into a consistent spell of form.

From a Galway viewpoint, it was an avoidable concession as John Hanbury was beaten to the punch by Walsh, who fed Reid for the game’s opening goal.

Reid tagged on a pointed free and Kilkenny were 1-04 to 0-05 clear but Galway’s response was impressive.

When the Westerners conceded goals in their semi-final against Tipperary, a feature of their play was their ability to bounce back with scores.

And they reeled off six of the next seven scores on offer to open up a four-point advantage, 0-12 to 1-05.

Jason Flynn put over a monster point from inside his own half during that purple patch and after Kilkenny registered scores from Richie Hogan and Aylward, Flynn was on target again with another peach, this time from play.

The Tommy Larkins star plucked the ball from the sky ahead of Cillian Buckley and in one fluid movement, put over a cracker from the Hogan Stand touchline.

Reid (free) and Joe Canning exchanged points before half-time, with Canning claiming that another effort waved wide had split the posts.

Galway were in a good position, three points clear, but Kilkenny had reeled them in within minutes of the restart, with scores from Conor Fogarty and Reid (one free and a 65).

David Collins, a first half sub for Aidan Harte, popped over an inspirational 46th minute point to nudge Galway a point clear again but that was the last time they would lead.

Richie Hogan drew the sides level and another Reid 65 handed Kilkenny a lead they would not relinquish.

With Galway now in their grip, Kilkenny were not about to let go.

They had weathered the vicious Galway storm in the first half but limited the damage and once they got on a run themselves, the champions proved impossible to stop.

Galway struggled to keep in touch and while they were still within touching distance, three points behind with ten minutes left, there was rarely a feeling that they could launch a late fightback.

The gap stretched out to seven points before full-time, with the Power brothers Richie and John coming off the bench to aid the cause, before Canning found the net with a goal from a 20m free in stoppage time.

It was a consolation effort as Galway ended up as hurling’s bridesmaids once again.

For Kilkenny the spoils and whatever Cody said at half-time certainly had the desired effect as they produced a powerpacked second half display, laced with manic intensity, ferocious hunger and relentless tackling.

Galway were a busted flush after their first half heroics and while young Conor Whelan continued to carry the fight to Kilkenny, other much-vaunted forwards failed to produce.

In contrast, Kilkenny had a lovely spread of scores and at midfield, Michael Fennelly turned up the heat alongside Conor Fogarty.

2014 Hurler of the Year Richie Hogan was one of two Kilkenny players taken off before full-time and while he was visibly disappointed with the decision, the Danesfort dynamo carried heavy strapping on his hamstring into battle.

GALWAY: C Callanan; J Coen, J Hanbury, P Mannion; A Harte, I Tannian, Daithí Burke; A Smith, David Burke (0-01); C Whelan (0-02), C Donnellan (0-01), J Glynn; J Flynn (0-04, 3f), J Canning (1-08, 1-05f), C Mannion.

Subs: D Collins (0-02) for Harte (24), C Cooney for Smith (56), G Lally for Donnellan (64), S Moloney for Flynn (65).

KILKENNY: E Murphy; P Murphy, J Holden, S Prendergast; P Walsh (0-01), K Joyce, C Buckley; M Fennelly (0-02), C Fogarty (0-01); C Fennelly (0-02), R Hogan (0-02), TJ Reid (1-07, 5f, 2 65s); W Walsh (0-02), G Aylward (0-03), E Larkin (0-02).

Subs: R Power for Hogan (61), J Power for Aylward (62).

Referee: J Owens (Wexford).


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