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Richie Hogan inspires Kilkenny to late Leinster final comeback over Galway

Galway lost the game despite leading by five points after 55 minutes.

Colin Fennelly lifts the Bob O’Keeffe Cup with his team as Leinster SHC champions.
Colin Fennelly lifts the Bob O’Keeffe Cup with his team as Leinster SHC champions.
Image: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Kilkenny 2-20

Galway 0-24

KILKENNY UNDER BRIAN Cody just never know when they’re beaten.

When Jason Flynn extended Galway’s lead to five in the 55th minute, they looked like a side ready to power home. But the introduction of former Hurler of the Year Richie Hogan helped turn the tide back in Kilkenny’s favour as they pulled off a late comeback in stunning fashion.

On a night when Galway’s full-back line dominated under the high ball, the diminutive forward gave the Tribesmen something different to think about. 

His goal sparked the Kilknny comeback and seconds later TJ Reid added a second goal to turn this contest on its head. Hogan has battled injury over the past few years but he looked back to his very best here and performed heroics after he was sent on.

Hogan’s green flag was a thing of beauty, using four touches to take the ball past Eanna Murphy, flick it up, control it and bat tennis-style into the net. The only pity is there wasn’t 20-odd thousand Kilkenny supporters in the ground to witness it.

He was centimetres away from adding a second green flag minutes later and set-up Martin Keoghan for a golden goal opportunity earlier in the half. Hogan had to be content with 1-2 as Kilkenny stole their first provincial crown since 2016 at the death. 

Galway retook the lead after two each from Joe Canning and David Burke, but it was the Cats who finished stronger for Cody’s 16th Leinster victory.

Shane O’Neill left Croke Park tonight wondering just how he failed to up his first piece of silverware as Galway manager. For the first three-quarters to the game they looked the superior side with the crossfield ball into Conor Whelan causing havoc.

For long spells the game descended into a battle between freetakers Reid and Canning.

joseph-cooney-throws-a-hurl-as-richie-hogan-scores-a-goal Richie Hogan scores his goal. Source: Ken Sutton/INPHO

Galway were punished for 12 wides, compared to five from Kilkenny. Despite his 14-point haul, the narrow margin of defeat meant Canning was left to rue a stoppage-time free that struck the post and an earlier 20m free that was saved on the line.

Cody avoided losing a third successive Leinster final for the first time in his career with a comeback that typified the Kilkenny spirit. 

He made four change from the Dublin clash, introducing Tommy Walsh, Conor Browne, Richie Leahy and Conor Fogarty. Walsh was assigned on Brian Concannon and largely kept the in-form sharpshooter under wraps.

Galway are physically an impressive unit and their defenders were well able to deal with Kilkenny’s aerial bombardment towards Walter Walsh, Colin Fennelly and TJ Reid. Walsh and Fennelly found themselves replaced by the 51st minute with the latter unusually quiet.

Even Reid didn’t have quite his typical impact from open play until his final quarter goal.

From the outset Galway withdrew Canning to midfield and used Padraig Mannion as an auxiliary centre-back,. Joseph Cooney was instructed to follow Reid all over the field – just like he did with Lee Chin in the semi-final.

Galway had the better spread of scorers in the first-half. Conor Whelan buzzed about, causing problems whenever the ball went near him. He stripped Conor Delaney and shot over the bar for his first score, catching a stray handpass and doing likewise for his second. 

padraig-walsh-and-sean-loftus Kilkenny's Padraig Walsh and Sean Loftus of Galway. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Kilkenny relied largely on frees from Reid, who converted all eight of his attempts in the opening period. The direct ball into the full-forward didn’t quite stick and this was summed up by Cooney’s majestic catch over Reid near the end of the half. 

Canning played a glorious sideline into Joseph Cooney’s path for one of the scores of the game and Galway might have added a goal 10 minutes before the break. Niall Burke fetched above Huw Lawlor but the Kilkenny full-back held onto his hurley as Burke attempted to race through on goal.

It was the sort of cynical play by Lawlor that will lead to further discussion around the introduction of a black card into hurling.

Canning popped over the free and added a lovely effort from the sideline, his second from play, to leave the Tribesmen leading 0-13 to 0-12 at the interval.

Canning hit Galway’s opening five scores after the break, while substitute Jason Flynn went close to adding a goal after he burned Lawlor for pace down the flank. 

Trailing by four, Kilkenny went desperately close to hitting the net before the water break when Richie Hogan – introduced moments earlier – split open the Galway defence with a handpass but Martin Keoghan’s strike sailed just wide.

Flynn extended the lead to five and then the most extraordinary 60 seconds of play unfolded. Richie Hogan’s quick reactions saw the Dansefort ace hit the net and as soon as Galway could draw their breath, Reid sped through rifled into the top corner.

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That sent Kilkenny in front, but two from Canning and a brace from replacement David Burke left Galway two ahead. Yet again, Kilkenny fought back. They scored the final four points of the game, including two from Hogan, to steal the cup at the death.

Galway face a quick turnaround next weekend while the Cats advance to the last four of the All-Ireland series.

Scorers for Kilkenny: TJ Reid 1-10 (0-9f), Richie Hogan 1-2, Martin Keoghan and Conor Browne 0-2 each, Liam Blanchfield, John Donnelly, Padraig Walsh and Eoin Cody 0-1 each.

Scorers for Galway: Joe Canning 0-14 (0-9f, 0-1 sideline, 0-1 65), David Burke, Conor Whelan and Johnny Coen 0-2 each, Cathal Mannion, Brian Concannon, Joseph Cooney and Jason Flynn 0-1 each.

Kilkenny

1. Eoin Murphy (Glenmore)

2. Conor Delaney (Erin’s Own)
3. Huw Lawlor (O’Loughlin Gaels)
4. Tommy Walsh (Tullaroan)

6. Padraig Walsh (Tullaroan)
5. Cillian Buckley (Dicksboro)
9. Conor Browne (James Stephens)

8. Richie Leahy (Rower Inistioge)
7. Conor Fogarty (Erin’s Own)

11. Martin Keoghan (Tullaroan)
13. TJ Reid (Ballyhale Shamrocks)
10. John Donnelly (Thomastown)

12. Walter Walsh (Tullogher Rosbercon)
15. Colin Fennelly (Ballyhale Shamrocks)
14. Eoin Cody (Ballyhale Shamrocks)

Subs:

18. Joey Holden (Ballyhale Shamrocks) for Buckley (blood sub, 42 – 46)
23. Richie Hogan (Danesfort) for Walter Walsh (44)
25. Liam Blanchfield (Bennettsbridge) for Fennelly (51)
22. Richie Reid (Ballyhale Shamrocks) for Fogarty (55)
26. Niall Brassil (James Stephens) for Cody (60)
21. Alan Murphy (Glenmare) for Leahy (61)

Galway

1. Eanna Murphy (Tommy Larkins)

2. Sean Loftus (Turloughmore)
3. Daithi Burke (Turloughmore)
4. Shane Cooney (St Thomas’) 

5. Fintan Burke (St Thomas’)
7. Joseph Cooney (Sarsfields)
6. Gearoid McInerney (Oranmore Maree)

8. Padraic Mannion (Ahascragh Fohenagh) — captain

9. Johnny Coen (Loughrea)
12. Joe Canning (Portumna)

10. Conor Cooney (St Thomas’)
11. Cathal Mannion (Ahascragh Fohenagh) 
14. Niall Burke (Oranmore Maree)

13. Conor Whelan (Kinvara)
15. Brian Concannon (Killimordaly)

Subs:

17. Aidan Harte (Gort)for Loftus (ht)
24. Jason Flynn (Tommy Larkins) for Niall Burke (40)
23. David Burke (St. Thomas’) for Conor Cooney (59)
20. Adrian Tuohey (Beagh) for Coen (69)
21. Sean Linnane (Turloughmore) for Shane Cooney (71)

Referee: Fergal Horgan (Tipperary)

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About the author:

Kevin O'Brien  / reports from Croke Park

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