Kilkenny successfully defended their All-Ireland title with a second-half masterclass against Galway at Croke Park, 1-22 to 1-18.
Trailing by three points at the interval, Brian Cody's charges outscored their opponents by 14 points to 1-4 after the restart to leave the Tribesmen bemused. TJ Reid topscored for the all-conquering Leinster champions, registering a personal return of 1-7 as the provincial final form was confirmed.
The result means the Black & Amber have now won eight of the last ten All-Irelands at this level and eleven of the last 16. With all six starting forwards on target, a solid defensive display completely snuffed out the Galway scoring threat after the break and provided the platform for a comfortable victory, with Joe Canning's injury-time goal for the losers only serving to put some respectability on the scoreboard.
With Canning and Jason Flynn hitting seven and four points respectively, the westerners seemed to have put themselves in a winning position as they led by 0-14 to 1-8 at the interval, bouncing back well after TJ Reid had found their net at the Hill 16 end in the 13th minute. The defining moments of the opening period arrived between the 21st and 28th minutes as Galway reeled off five successive points to move four clear as they strived to complete a minor-senior double at HQ today.
But they were also blessed not to have had corner back Johnny Coen red-carded a minute before the short whistle when he clotheslined Colin Fennelly with a dangerous high tackle.
The sides shared four points inside the opening four minutes, with Canning (one free; one from play) on target either side of efforts from Michael Fennelly and Ger Aylward. Canning and Cyril Donnellan pointed to make it double scores in favour of the challengers as two Cats goalscoring chances went astray; Eoin Larkin halved the deficit on ten minutes: 0-4 to 0-3 in Galway's favour.
Canning's fourth score (free) left two between them but the holders regained the lead in the 13th minute when Reid gathered a pass from Walter Walsh and planted a low shot to the net. Reid followed up with a pointed free but Galway were quickly level thanks to midfielder David Burke and Canning (free).
Reid (free) restored the Black & Amber lead but back came Galway with a run of five successive scores to lead by four - 0-12 to 1-5 - after 28 minutes: Jason Flynn hammered over three long-range frees; Canning also hit a free; and eighteen-year-old Conor Whelan got his first score of the day. Richie Hogan and Aylward popped up with Kilkenny points and Flynn's point from play was cancelled out by a Reid free after Coen's crude foul on Fennelly.
Crucially, the classy Cats outscored Anthony Cunningham's men by nine points to two in the first 20 minutes after the resumption to take a stranglehold on the game, 1-17 to 0-16, turning a three-point deficit into a four-point cushion.
The Noresiders were level within eight minutes of the restart thanks to Conor Fogarty and Reid (free; '65'). When sub David Collins restored the Tribe's lead, Hogan tied the scores up for the sixth time, 1-12 to 0-15. Hawk-Eye confirmed that Whelan had secured Galway's second point of the second half from a nigh-on-impossible angle but the Cats had further finishes from Reid (one '65' and one free) and Walter Walsh either side of that audacious effort to lead by two at the end of the third quarter.
Collins drilled over Galway's third point of the second half in the 60th minute but Kilkenny replied with scores from Colin Fennelly and Padraig Walsh before a Canning free left four in it with as many minutes left. Colin Fennelly, Michael Fennelly and Walter Walsh all grabbed their second scores of the day to complete the scoring for the Noresiders - who had nine different scorers today - and Galway got a late consolation when Canning's free went to the net.
In the end, however, we had the familiar sight of Kilkenny collecting the Liam MacCarthy Cup.
Kilkenny - E Murphy; P Murphy, J Holden, S Prendergast; P Walsh (0-1), K Joyce, C Buckley; M Fennelly (0-2), C Fogarty (0-1); W Walsh (0-2), R Hogan (0-2), TJ Reid (1-7, 0-4f, 0-2'65); G Aylward (0-3), C Fennelly (0-2), E Larkin (0-2). Subs: R Power for R Hogan, J Power for G Aylward.
Galway - C Callanan; J Coen, J Hanbury, P Mannion; A Harte, I Tannian, Daithi Burke; A Smith, David Burke (0-1); C Whelan (0-2), C Donnellan (0-1), J Glynn; J Flynn (0-4, 3f), J Canning (1-8, 1-5f), C Mannion. Subs: D Collins (0-2) for A Harte, C Cooney for A Smith, G Lally for C Donnellan, S Moloney for J Flynn.
Referee - J Owens.