KILKENNY HAVE VERY much been the main force as far as Leinster (and indeed hurling in general) is concerned, not just in recent seasons but over the course of the decade.
The last three finals in particular epitomise their overwhelming dominance in the sport.
Kilkenny’s Michael Ross and Galway’s Andy Smith clash during the 2010 final (INPHO/Donall Farmer)
2010: Poor Galway second-half showing sees Killenny ease to victory
Henry Shefflin put in a consummate performance, scoring 1-07, as his Kilkenny side broke all records to secure a sixth Leinster title in a row.
Before the All-Ireland final last year, Galway had been the last team to beat Kilkenny in the Championship, knocking them out in 2005 All-Ireland semi-final. However, on this occasion, they were well-beaten by an impressive Cats side who were aided by their opponents tactical ineptitude.
Kilkenny were only three points ahead of Galway at the break, but the introduction of Richie Hogan and Aidan Fogarty made a noticeable difference, enabling them to outplay their opponents in the second half. Galway, by contrast, made some poor alterations in the second half, most notably moving top scorer Damien Hayes back to midfield.
Joe Boland and John Mcaffrey tackling Kilkenny’s Richard Power (INPHO/James Crombie)
2009: Kilkenny’s predatory instincts see them through
Henry Shefflin had an unusually quiet day, but Martin Comerford more than compensated for his compatriot’s below-par performance with two goals and four points, in a game in which Kilkenny were far from comfortable at times.
Dublin had their own outstanding individual performer, with Alan McCrabbe registering 12 of their 18 points.
Indeed, the boys in blue fought valiantly throughout this encounter, staying within a few points of their opponents for the majority of the game, and putting in a respectable performance.
Kilkenny, however, always looked the more likely winners, before Comerford’s second goal put the game beyond any doubt.
Henry Shefflin scoring despite the Wexford players best efforts (INPHO/Lorraine O’Sullivan)
2008: Wexford torn apart as free-scoring Kilkenny demonstrate their dominance
Kilkenny triumphed in what was, at the time, their fourth consecutive win in a Leinster Senior Hurling Championship final.
The Cats confidently stormed ahead of their opponents in the opening quarter of the match, taking 1-06 to 0-03 lead inside 14 minutes, with the unstoppable Henry Shefflin scoring all bar four of these points.
However, Wexford made a courageous comeback, significantly decreasing their opponents’ lead and leaving the scores at 1-09 to 0-10 at the interval.
Yet Kilkenny produced a consummate second half performance in which they comprehensively outscored Wexford. Two goals from Eddie Brennan ensured breathing space between the two teams, before goals from Richie Power and Aidan Fogarty guaranteed yet another victory for the Cats.