Full-time, Galway 2-21 Kilkenny 2-11:
15.46 – Welcome to a cold and largely empty Croke Park. Perhaps it says what the expectations are for the day that so few have turned out. The upper tiers are closed as is Hill 16 yet the Canal End is empty, the lower Cusack is half full and the lower Hogan is only slightly better. Could this be the smallest crowd for a Leinster hurling final in memory and should this have been played elsewhere, Tullamore for example?
15.49 – Kilkenny haven’t lose a provincial game since 2004, are looking to make it 14 out of 15 Leinster crowns and a remarkable eight on the trot. That’s the talent and level of history staring at Galway and their leaky defence here.
15.50 – Here are the teams as the sides warm-up with 10 to throw in…
Kilkenny: D Herity; P Murphy, N Hickey, J Tyrrell; T Walsh, B Hogan, R Doyle; C Buckley, P Hogan; H Shefflin, TJ Reid, E Larkin, C Fennelly, R Power, R Hogan.
Galway: J Skehill; D Collins, K Hynes, F Moore; N Donoghue, T Regan, J Coen; I Tannian, A Smyth; D Burke, N Burke, C Donnellan; C Cooney, J Canning, D Hayes.
15.51 – The referee is James McGrath from Westmeath.
15.55 – Really bad atmosphere but at least the Artane Band create some noise as the teams line-up for their lap of the pitch. Everyone saying it might as well be a victory lap for Kilkenny and we haven’t even started. If it was anyone else that would sound arrogant, but here it seems like justified confidence. Galway need a really big start and to lay down some markers or we are in for a subdued day.
16.00 – We are underway…
16.03 – 3 minutes: Galway 1-1 Kilkenny 0-0: We said they needed a good start, well that’s a start to that start if you are with us. David Herity takes a great ball under his crossbar but back come Galway and Niall Burke opens the scoring. Better again, Joe Canning takes a great high ball, Jackie Tyrell nowhere near it. Canning turns and blasts home.
16.04 – 5 minutes: Galway 1-2 Kilkenny 0-0: Goalscorer Canning feeds pointscorer Niall Burke and he clips over his second. The place comes to life suddenly. Canning looks pumped up, he picks that ball up really deep and tries to feed Burke again but he’s bottled up.
16.09 – 10 minutes: Galway 1-2 Kilkenny 0-0: Entire Galway half-back line have started really well, a ball hasn’t got by them yet. They are playing tough and fast and feeding it into the forwards long and accurate. Can they keep it up? Now Canning is back there turning over ball. He’s all over the pitch and Galway are getting seriously physical.
16.12 – 13 minutes: Galway 1-3 Kilkenny 0-0: Henry Shefflin drops a free short, Damien Hayes drops a shot short, David Collins and Fergal Moore pick up where the half-back line left off winning ball. We look to draw breath and finally get a chance as Joe Canning is too quick, is taken out and sticks over a 14-yard free himself.
16.16 – 15 minutes, Galway 1-4 Kilkenny 0-0: Surging run from Andy Smith from deep halted illegally and Canning knocks over another free. Nearly quarter-way into this and Kilkenny haven’t scored. They haven’t even had a wide.
16.18 – 18 minutes, Galway 1-6 Kilkenny 0-0: Surging run from Andy Smith from deep halted illegally and Canning knocks over another free. Over quarter-way into this and Kilkenny haven’t scored. They haven’t even had a wide. There’s another Canning free. Now David Collins points. Brian Cody talks with his selectors and everyone else has a stunned look.
16.19 – 20 minutes, Galway 1-6 Kilkenny 0-1: Finally, just shy of 20 minutes and Henry Shefflin has Kilkenny on the board. Galway need to keep up the intensity because they are worth this lead and more thus far.
16.23 – 23 minutes, Galway 2-8 Kilkenny 0-1: Galway are running from deep and the Kilkenny half-back line cannot cope. They are being taken on with power and pace and are just dragging down men to stop them going by. Lazy foul from Brian Hogan there which Canning converts. This time there’s no foul but Cyril Donnellan has space and scores. The basis for all this is Galway’s defence. Goal. David Burke breaks into space and buries it. This is unbelievable.
16.25 – 25 minutes, Galway 2-8 Kilkenny 0-1: Aidan Fogarty comes on for Colin Fennelly. Odd call as no ball has gone in far enough for Fennelly to get on. It’s nearer to their own goal that Kilkenny are struggling as Richie Hogan wins a free there and Shefflin drives wide. 10 to the break and Galway need to keep kicking on.
16.27 – 28 minutes, Galway 2-9 Kilkenny 0-1: Michael Rice now on for Paddy Hogan who has been cleaned out and taken out on the back foot. It’s a maroon tide washing over them all though as David Burke from a standing start and the touchline flicks an effort that carries right over the bar. Some score. Some performance by his team. Need to keep it going though.
16.28 – 29 minutes, Galway 2-10 Kilkenny 0-1: That’s another great score by Cyril Donnellan, his half-forward line have been lethal. Deadly accurate.
16.31 – 31 minutes, Galway 2-12 Kilkenny 0-2: We aren’t joking. That’s the score. Pick a man of the half for Galway, they are all dominating their battles as moments after Donnellan points from the Hogan Stand side he points from the Cusack Stand side. Kilkenny get one back though through Richie Power but Joe Canning wins the subsequent puck-out and lashes it over from halfway.
16.33 – 33 minutes, Galway 2-12 Kilkenny 0-3: Shefflin with a free and Kilkenny beginning to get a ball or two up front. If it was anyone else we’d say it’s only consolation stuff but a long way to go and Galway know what they are up against.
16.37 – Half-time, Galway 2-12 Kilkenny 0-4: Another Shefflin free as Kilkenny tip toe their way into this from a long way back. Not surprised Galway’s intensity has dropped in the last three or four minutes, robots couldn’t keep up what they did for half an hour of that. But now they have time to draw breath. Expect a backlash but if Galway play to anywhere near that level in the second half they won’t be caught. How in the name of Brian Cody did that happen? Cracking stuff. We’re off to catch our breaths and be back after the break.
16.52 – 36 minutes, Galway 2-13 Kilkenny 0-4: Back underway and Cyril Donnellan – what an incredible game he is having – points within seconds. A lot of ‘I didn’t see that coming lines’ from bemused faces around the press box. Must be a bit like the Kilkenny management at the moment.
16.54 – 39 minutes, Galway 2-13 Kilkenny 0-5: Shefflin takes a sensible point from a 21-yard free, anyone else might have taken a goal. Fourteen points down and their crowd call for a comeback.
16.59 – 45 minutes, Galway 2-13 Kilkenny 1-6: Here they come? Aidan Fogarty gets the ball 30 out and pitches it over. Kilkenny have brought the hunger they forgot in the first half to this half. Long way back though, but a lot of time still on the clock too. And now a goal. Richie Hogan.
17.01 – 46 minutes, Galway 2-15 Kilkenny 1-6: Brilliant point from David Burke as he looked to have lost control of the sliothar but bats it out of midair and over the bar. That was needed for Galway. And now a Joe Canning free. Gutsy response that screams this will be their day.
17.03 – 48 minutes, Galway 2-16 Kilkenny 1-6: Fantastic by Canning from close to the touchline into an empty Hill 16. They’ve put out the fire with those three scores and Kilkenny as far back as ever.
17.05 – 50 minutes, Galway 2-17 Kilkenny 2-7: Now they are not. Richie Hogan hopefully fires a high ball into the square. Shefflin gets to the front of the queue and bats into an empy net as James Skehill had come to collect but didn’t get near it. Back come Galway through Damien Hayes but Shefflin cancels that out with a free. When has an 10-point game been this exciting and this tense?
17.08 – 54 minutes, Galway 2-17 Kilkenny 2-9: Shefflin won’t let this get away as he hauls Kilkenny ever closer. Jonathan Glynn on for Conor Cooney for Galway who had an extra man back sweeping in the first half and that was key. Kilkenny making sure it’s man-to-man this half though as they win another free and Shefflin flicks it between the posts.
17.12 – 57 minutes, Galway 2-19 Kilkenny 2-9: The diagonal ball into the forwards still working for Galway as it buys Joe Canning space and he doesn’t miss. He is tormenting Paul Murphy and now wins a free off him. James Regan comes on for Iarla Tannion as Canning puts over the simple free. Another gutsy response from the Connacht side. Matthew Ruth on for TJ Reid for Kilkenny.
17.14 – 59 minutes, Galway 2-19 Kilkenny 2-10: Richie Power gets Kilkenny back to a single-figure deficit – we’ve never written that before – but time is ticking and they need to notch up a few more while containing Canning in particular.
17.17 – 61 minutes, Galway 2-19 Kilkenny 2-10: Tadhg Haran on for Niall Burke who winks at the bench as he takes off his helmet. I’d give it another few minutes personally but he’s earned it with a particularly brilliant first half.
17.19 – 64 minutes, Galway 2-19 Kilkenny 2-11: Aidan Fogarty wins the free, Shefflin converts but a goal surely needed. If not two!
17.22 – 67 minutes, Galway 2-19 Kilkenny 2-11: Cyril Donnellan continues to threaten, Joe Canning continues to roast Paul Murphy (why he’s been left on him so long is odd) but most importantly time continues to tick down.
17.24 – 70 minutes, Galway 2-20 Kilkenny 2-11: A score that allows the crowd to go wild. Donnellan with the point. Two minutes of additional time.
17.27 – Full-time, Galway 2-21 Kilkenny 2-11: Cyril Donnellan gets a hearty handshake as he comes off, Joe Canning gets the last score of the game with a free and both of them get their hands on the trophy. Simply remarkable.