Leinster SHC final replay: terrific Tribe repel Cats fightback

July 08, 2018

Galway's Padraig Mannion looks to nab possession ahead of Kilkenny's Liam Blanchfield

Galway retained the Leinster title, beating Kilkenny by 1-28 to 3-15 in a superb replayed decider at hot and humid Thurles.

The men in maroon were on fire for most of the game but the losers had their moments too and they made a real game of it by cutting a twelve-point deficit to the minimum before Micheal Donoghue's charges pulled away with a purposeful finish.

The Liam MacCarthy Cup holders are now through to an All-Ireland semi-final, while - after putting so much into this epic two-game Leinster final - Kilkenny will have to pick themselves up for a daunting quarter-final against Limerick next weekend. That'll be their third game in 14 or 15 days, depending on whether it's fixed for Saturday or Sunday.

With 25,102 in attendance, the reigning provincial and All-Ireland champions utterly dominated the first half and could consider themselves unfortunate to be just nine points ahead at the short whistle, 1-16 to 1-7.

Johnny Glynn came into the holders' starting XV at full forward in place of Conor Cooney, while John Donnelly replaced Martin Keoghan for the Cats. The excellent Cathal Mannion opened the scoring and points from Conor Whelan and Niall Burke made it three to none after six minutes.

TJ Reid and Aidan Harte traded points and Glynn's effort flew to the net via Eoin Murphy in the twelfth minute. The Tribe followed up with points from Whelan, Mannion and Glynn to lead by nine points after 15 minutes, 1-7 to 0-1.

A Canning brace stretched the gap further and the All-Ireland champions led by eleven with 20 minutes played. Reid's brace got the Kilkenny side of the scoreboard moving again and Donnelly cancelled out a Canning free. Reid's fourth point (free) followed by a Joey Holden strike had the Noresiders back within seven points with as many minutes left in the first half.

Galway captain David Burke lifts the Bob O'Keeffe Cup

Canning swept over a sideline cut and a free either side of a Glynn point as the Tribesmen went ten points clear with half an hour played; Mannion and Joseph Cooney followed up with further Galway points. Ger Aylward's rather dubious goal - 'more steps than Michael Flatley' is how one observer described it on Twitter - booted to the net from close range two minutes from the break offered the Cats a tenuous lifeline and a Reid free dissected the posts before Whelan closed the first-half scoring as Brian Cody's completely outclassed side somehow retired just nine points adrift.

Within seven minutes of the restart, the Galway lead was just five points. Midfielder James Maher pointed and Canning replied from a free before blazing a goal effort wide. At the other end, Maher's miscued effort hit the woodwork and half-time substitute Colin Fennelly was on hand to fire the Black & Amber's second major from the rebound. Reid's free from inside his own '65' made it 1-17 to 2-9.

Whelan and Canning (free) replied as Galway refused to panic and Mannion - with his fourth from play - nonchalantly cancelled out a Fennelly point. Another half-time substitute Richie Hogan and midfielder Conor Fogarty had the margin back to five again with 20 minutes remaining.

Reid nailed a free at the three-quarters stage and it was game on when Hogam swept a groundstroke through James Skehill to the net first-time in the 55th minute to make it a one-point game. Canning replied, his ninth point doubling the difference, while Fogarty's effort at the other end was awarded before Hawk-Eye over-ruled.

Mannion arrowed over an inspirational 60th-minute point when Galway needed it most and then conjured his sixth to cancel out a Reid free. Sub Conor Cooney supplied the insurance point with six minutes left and then picked out Canning, who stylishly whipped over a delightful Galway point from the right.

Reid's eighth point (free) had the losers back within four with two minutes of normal time remaining but wing back Harte replied with a sumptuous strike 30 seconds later. Murphy brilliantly denied Jason Flynn a goal but an advantage was being played and Canning converted the resultant free in injury time to nudge the Galway lead out to six.

Flynn closed the scoring as Galway retained the Bob O'Keefe Cup and claimed their place in the last four of the All-Ireland series.

Galway - J Skehill; A Tuohy, Daithi Burke, J Hanbury; P Mannion, G McInerney, A Harte (0-2); J Coen, David Burke; J Cooney (0-1), J Canning (0-10, 6f), N Burke (0-2); C Mannion (0-6), J Glynn (1-1), C Whelan (0-4). Subs: C Cooney (0-1) for N Burke, J Flynn (0-1) for J Cooney, S Loftus for David Burke.

Kilkenny - E Murphy; P Murphy, P Walsh, P Deegan; J Holden (0-1), C Buckley, E Morrissey; C Fogarty (0-1), J Maher (0-1); J Donnelly (0-1), TJ Reid (0-9, 6f, 1'65), R Leahy; W Walsh, B Ryan, G Aylward (1-0). Subs: L Blanchfield for W Walsh, R Hogan (1-1) for R Leahy, C Fennelly (1-1) for B Ryan, R Lennon for E Morrissey, L Scanlon for J Donnelly.

Referee - J Owens.

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