A dominant second half performance saw Galway retain the Irish Press Cup in the Croke Park curtain-raiser this afternoon.
Fortunate to trail by the minimum at half-time, the Tribesmen outscored the Cats by 0-12 to 0-4 after the restart as Jeff Lynskey led them to their third All-Ireland minor hurling title in four seasons and a 12th in all. Donal O'Shea, son of former Tipperary manager Eamon, top-scored with 0-10 for the winners, with one of those points coming from an early penalty, while Diamuid Kilcommons and Dean Reilly also impressed as the Westerners completed the first leg of what they hope will be a minor and senior 'double. double'.
Having defeated the Cats by 1-21 to 2-11 in the quarter-final group stage, Galway came into the final as firm favourites, but it was Richie Mulrooney's men who did most of the early running and were full value for their 0-4 to 0-0 lead after just six minutes. Wing back Darragh Maher opened the scoring inside 20 seconds before Conor Kelly (free) and Ciaran Brennan (two, one sideline) added points for the underdogs, who also hit four early wides.
Kilkenny ended the half with eight wides compared to Galway's two and those missed opportunities ultimately proved costly. The Tribesmen could have reduced the deficit to the minimum in the seventh minute when Niall Collins was fouled by Padraig Dempsey for a penalty, but O'Shea was unable to keep his shot down as it flew over the crossbar.
Galway captain Sean Neary lifts the Irish Press Cup. ©INPHO/Tommy Dickson.
O'Shea made amends with two quick scores from play before further points from Oisin Flannery and O'Shea gave them the lead for the first time in the 12th minute.
Kilkenny hit back with points from Cian Kenny and Jack Buggy (sideline) and went on to lead by 0-9 to 0-7 before two further O'Shea points left the winners trailing by 0-9 to 0-10 at the interval.
The Cats resumed with scores from Kenny and Kelly, but played second fiddle for the remainder of the second period as Galway showed their class. With their bench making an impact, Diarmuid Kilcommins and Evan Duggan shot inspirational points from opposite wings, while Dean Reilly and substitute Sean McDonagh also got in on the scoring act to put them in the driving seat.
Kelly briefly stopped Galway's momentum when he slotted over a free, but the Tribesmen weren't to be denied as they got their day off to a perfect start.
Galway - P Rabbitte; M Flynn, S Jennings, O Salmon; S Quirke, S Neary, E Duggan (0-1); J O'Donoghue, Oisin Flannery (St Thomas') (0-1); D Kilcommins (0-2), Oisin Flannery (Padraig Pearses) (0-1), A Brett; D Reilly (0-3), D O'Shea (0-10, 6f, 1'65, 1pen), N Collins. Subs: C Cunningham (0-1) for J O'Donoghue, C Keane for A Brett, S McDonagh (0-2) for Oisin Flannery (Padraig Pearses), I McGlynn for Oisin Flannery (St Thomas'), K Creaven for N Collins.
Kilkenny - J Brennan; P Dempsey, J Young, D Crehan; D Maher (0-2), S Staunton, J Harkin; C Kelly (0-7f), C Kenny (0-2); C Brennan (0-2, 1sl), J Buggy (0-1sl), G Murphy; C O'Leary, J Morrissey, K Hogan. Subs: E Guilfoyle for C O'Leary, P Moylan for J Buggy, J Doyle for G Murphy, K Rudkins for K Hogan, D Coogan for J Morrissey.
Referee - J Murphy.