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5 talking points from Kilkenny's Leinster hurling final victory over Galway

The Cats retained their provincial crown with a seven-point victory.

1. The performance of TJ Reid

In a word, superb. Reid has taken over the role of leader in the Kilkenny attack following the retirement of Ballyhale Shamrocks clubmate Henry Shefflin from intercounty hurling.

There was one second half score that summed up Reid’s importance to the Kilkenny cause.

With seven minutes remaining, Cyril Donnellan had pulled Galway back to within three points but from the Kilkenny puckout, Reid rose highest to pluck the ball from the skies.

A quick offload to Richie Hogan later and Kilkenny were four ahead again and on the way to victory down the home straight.

Big games demand big moments from big players and Reid delivered yet again, hitting 1-9 and doing so much other trojan work around the pitch.

TJ Reid celebrates after scoring a goal TJ Reid celebrates his goal at Croke Park this afternoon. Source: Tommy Grealy/INPHO

2. Joe Canning’s goal

What a stunning effort this was from Canning in the first half.

Andy Smith’s long ball over the top led to Canning’s catch, swivel and strike all in one fluid movement. It was unquestionably one of the goals of the year but in the final analysis, Kilkenny full-back Joey Holden will still be happy with his contribution.

Canning scored 1-1 from play but struggled to exert any real influence in the second half.

Galway brought him out to the half-forward line for a spell, with David Burke and Jonathon Glynn operating at full-forward.

Canning went back in towards the finish but this was Holden’s first big test as Kilkenny full-back and it’s one he passed with flying colours.

The aerial bombardment suited Holden, however, as the quality of ball to Galway’s inside forwards left a lot to be desired.

Joe Canning celebrates his goal Joe Canning celebrates his Leinster final wonder goal. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

3. Kilkenny’s strength in depth

Losing a player of Michael Fennelly’s influence to a virus would unsettle most teams – but not Kilkenny.

Brian Cody brought in John Power for a start and the Carrickshock man ran himself into the ground before being replaced by Mark Kelly with 12 minutes remaining.

The big question is whether or not Kilkenny have the bench to get them through what they hope are two remaining tests.

Kelly, Matthew Ruth and Shane Prendergast were brought off the bench but Cody needs his best starting 15 available to him for the concluding stages of the All-Ireland series.

Compared to previous seasons, Kilkenny’s bench appears considerably weaker but that’s hardly surprising considering the amount of high-profile retirements following last year’s All-Ireland win.

Michael Fennelly Michael Fennelly was ruled out of today's game with a virus. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

4. Can Galway recover?

Bullish boss Anthony Cunningham insisted in the post-match press conference that Galway will still be a force in championship 2015.

They’re in an All-Ireland quarter-final and with the likes of David Collins and Conor Cooney to return, they’ll still have a say.

After demolition jobs on Dublin and Laois, this was a game that brought Galway back down to earth with a bang but that might not be any harm.

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Galway will remember too that when they beat Kilkenny in the 2012 Leinster final, they were overturned by the Cats in the All-Ireland final replay.

A role reversal would do quite nicely for the Tribesmen and the big advantage of reaching a provincial decider is avoiding the qualifier minefield.

Anthony Cunningham Anthony Cunningham remains bullish about Galway's championship chances. Source: Tommy Grealy/INPHO

5. Kilkenny just 70 minutes away from another All-Ireland final

They haven’t gone away you know! Kilkenny, the reigning All-Ireland champions, find themselves just 70 minutes away from another September decider.

This afternoon, Brian Cody masterminded a 14th Leinster title at the helm and he’ll hope to add an eleventh Liam MacCarthy Cup success before the season is out.

TJ Reid, Richie Hogan, Eoin Larkin and Ger Aylward hummed deliciously in attack and the Cats can sit back now and watch the would-be pretenders to their All-Ireland throne slug it out.

It’s going to take one hell of a team to beat them and while Tipperary look best equipped, the Cats have beaten the Premier County in the previous four championships.

Kilkenny represent a fearsome psychological barrier for Tipp and while Galway are the team that have caused the Cats the most trouble over the last 15 years or so in championship fare, they were swatted aside in the second half today.

Brian Cody with Eamon O'Shea after the game Will it be another Kilkenny-Tipp All-Ireland final? Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

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