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3 goals for Galway and they hold off late Kilkenny revival to book Leinster U21 hurling final spot

A two-point victory for the Tribesmen in Tullamore.

Galway 3-13
Kilkenny 1-17

Kevin Egan reports from Tullamore

GALWAY’S GREATER GOALSCORING threat proved the key difference in Tullamore tonight as they dominated the third quarter of an entertaining Bord Gáis Energy Leinster U21 hurling semi-final contest with Kilkenny and built up just enough of a cushion to withstand a late surge from the Cats.

Evan Niland Man-of-the-match Evan Niland hit 1-6 for Galway tonight. Source: Laszlo Geczo/INPHO

While the tempo of the play was always high, the game was slow to ignite as both sides suffered from terrible inaccuracy in the early stages.

By the time man-of-the-match Evan Niland fired over a point to put Galway 0-2 to 0-1 ahead after 14 minutes, the sides had struck 11 wides between them.

The Tribesmen would have been particularly concerned as they were playing with the aid of a strong breeze, though Kilkenny were responsible for six of those wide attempts.

The game settled down with Niland and James Bergin leading the way for their respective sides, before Galway made their first crucial breakthrough after 18 minutes.

A wonderful rob from Jack Canning set Niland up with a two on one situation and with the defender backing off, the Clarinbridge man backed himself and picked out the bottom corner of the net.

Kilkenny had their goal chances too, but Eanna Murphy did well to deny Adrian Mullen from close range while Bill Sheehan also failed to hit the target with a kicked effort in the closing stages of the half.

Still, 1-8 to 0-9 adrift with a strong wind to come seemed like a healthy position for Kilkenny – but that was until a Kevin Cooney point and a Seán Bleahane goal in the first three minutes after half-time trebled the lead.

Galway were utterly dominant at this stage of the game, completely controlling the game in their own half of the field and while their wide count continued to mount, they kept Kilkenny at arm’s length, Cianan Fahy and Kevin Cooney adding further points.

A great run and finish from Fahy made it 3-12 to 0-12 with a little over ten minutes to go, and it looked as if Kilkenny’s race was run.

Gradually DJ Carey’s side worked their way back into the game however and four points in a row set up a tense finish – and it could have been far more nerve-racking had John Donnelly not crashed a superb shot off the post after making a great catch on the 20m line.

John Donnelly Kilkenny hurler John Donnelly (file photo). Source: Bryan Keane/INPHO

Kevin Cooney added a point to settle Galway’s nerves and the longer the game went without a Kilkenny goal, the more the win slipped away from the Leinster county.

Bill Sheehan and Donnelly had shots blocked before a ground pull from Donnelly in the fifth minute of added time completed the scoring.

There were two more plays for Kilkenny to try and snatch a winner but the Galway defence held firm to set up a Leinster final clash with Wexford in a fortnight’s time.

Scorers for Galway: Evan Niland 1-6 (0-3f), Cianan Fahy 1-2, Kevin Cooney 0-4, Seán Bleahane 1-0, Brian Concannon 0-1.

Scorers for Kilkenny: James Bergin 0-7 (0-5f, 0-1 ’65), John Donnelly 1-2, Richie Leahy 0-3, Adrian Mullen & Conor Hennessy 0-2 each, Colum Prendiville 0-1 each

Galway

1. Eanna Murphy (Tommy Larkins)

2. Ian O’Shea (Athenry)
5. Jack Fitzpatrick (Killimordaly)
4. Shane Bannon (Clarinbridge)

3. Fintan Burke (St. Thomas)
6. Mark Hughes (Liam Mellows)
9. Jack Grealish (Gort)

7. Sean Loftus (Turloughmore)
8. Tomás Monaghan (Craughwell)

9. Seán Blehane (Ahascragh-Fohenagh)
15. Kevin Cooney (Sarsfields)
12. Cianan Fahy (Ardrahan)

14. Jack Canning (Portumna)
11. Brian Concannon (Killimordaly)
13. Evan Niland (Clarinbridge)

Subs

21. Cian Salmon (Clarinbridge) for Canning (half-time)
19. Conor Caulfield (Kilconieran) for Grealish (53)
18. Patrick Foley (Clarinbridge) for Bleahane (60)
20. Ronan Murphy (Tommy Larkins) for Niland (60+4)
24. Andrew Greaney (Craughwell) for Burke (60+5)

Kilkenny

1. Liam Dunphy (Lisdowney)

4. Ryan Bergin (John Lockes)
3. Tommy Walsh (Tullaroan)
2. Michael Cody (Dunamaggin)

5. Tom Kenny (Dicksboro)
6. Martin Keoghan (Tullaroan)
7. Shane Murphy (Glenmore)

8. Edmond Delaney (Conahy Shamrocks)
9. Richie Leahy (Rower-Inistíoge)

12. Adrian Mullen (Ballyhale Shamrocks)
14. John Donnelly (Thomastown)
10. Colum Prendiville (Graigue-Ballycallan)

13. Bill Sheehan (Dicksboro)
11. Conor Hennessy (Tullogher Rosbercon)
15. James Bergin (Conahy Shamrocks)

Subs

18. Michael Carey (Young Irelands) for Ryan Bergin (half-time)
19. Matt Kenny (Clara) for Delaney (49)
22. Sean Carey (Young Irelands) for James Bergin (54)

Referee: Alfie Devine (Westmeath)

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About the author:

Kevin Egan

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