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Dublin: 13 °C Wednesday 14 November, 2018
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5 talking points as Kilkenny celebrate again and Galway's wait goes on

The Liam MacCarthy Cup is heading back to Noreside again.

Joe Canning fires to the net for Galway but it was Kilkenny who celebrated at the end.
Joe Canning fires to the net for Galway but it was Kilkenny who celebrated at the end.
Image: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

1. Kilkenny’s awesome second-half display

At the break, there was no doubt that Kilkenny faced a big test of their credentials. Galway had been excellent in the opening-half to forge a three-point lead with strong and aggressive passages of play.

What happened in the second-half was a testament to this extraordinary Kilkenny team as they outscored Galway 0-14 to 1-4. The fact that Galway’s goal came in the dying embers was a further reflection of Kilkenny’s second-half superiority.

Their sheer defiance and will to win surfaced. Kilkenny established a powerful platform in the middle third with Kieran Joyce and Michael Fennelly outstanding while they had an array of able score takers up front.

2. Galway can’t build on first-half showing

There was little to fault in Galway’s play in the first-half. They settled well to the contest to eradicate any pre-match nerves. They suffered the body blow of shipping a goal to TJ Reid but recovered excellently to keep a clean sheet thereafter.

0-14 was an impressive tally to have to their name at the break and compared favourably with their recent interval tallies in the victories over Cork (1-15) and Tipperary (0-13).

But Galway slumped alarmingly in the second-half, never managing to scale those early heights as they couldn’t pierce the Kilkenny defence.

Kilkenny rose to the intensity levels that Galway had set and bossed the game. The Tribesmen were in a great position to win at the break yet couldn’t sustain their performance and the Liam MacCarthy Cup drought goes on.

A dejected Jonathan Glynn A dejected Jonathan Glynn after the game. Source: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

3. The Galway second-half scoring struggles

If you told Galway fans beforehand that they would amass 1-18, they would have been optimistic of taking the spoils today. The problem was that they raised 14 white flags in the first-half and their green flag arrived in one of the last plays of the game courtesy of Joe Canning.

The four points they notched in the second-half was a paltry total that fatally damaged their chances of winning. Three of those came from play, a pair from substitute David Collins and a skilful individual score by Conor Whelan.

But their key attacking triumvirate of Canning, Flynn and Cathal Mannion were held scoreless from play in the second-half. Canning and Flynn sparkled in the opening period yet their threat was blunted thereafter. Mansion was well-marshalled throughout and if Galway were to triumph, they needed their big guns firing.

TJ Reid and Iarla Tannian TJ Reid and Iarla Tannian battle for a high ball Source: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

4. TJ Reid’s excellence

The front runner for Hurler of the Year before today lived up to his advance billing. Several Kilkenny players may have stood tall in the second-half yet Reid was busy and influential throughout.

It was he who once again chipped in with a goal at a vital juncture, raising the first-half green flag that helped keep Kilkenny afloat during a difficult period.

It was he who was once more relentlessly accurate from frees. And it was he who coped well with the close attention paid to him by the Galway defence, wriggling free from claustrophobic second-half swarms to engineer Kilkenny scores. 1-7 was a valuable return from Reid and provided further evidence why he’s been the best hurler in the country in 2015.

5. Another fine Cody achievement

There’s been no shortage of praise for Brian Cody’s feats but his 11th All-Ireland senior title as a manager deserves some special plaudits. He coped with the retirements of leaders in his dressing-room to foster a winning climate again in 2015.

He managed his team through the turbulence of injuries this year with the likes of Michael Fennelly, Jackie Tyrrell, Richie Hogan and Richie Power all crocked at various stages.

He trusted new players like Joey Holden as his full-back anchor, Shane Prendergast as a 29 year-old defensive rookie and Ger Aylward as a new attacking lynchpin.

Cody got all his calls right and his Kilkenny team bounced back from an indifferent opening period today to triumph once more. The king stays on the throne for another winter.

Cody: ‘I’ve yet to see a match that was won on the sideline’

Who deserves Man of the Match from today’s All-Ireland final?

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About the author:

Fintan O'Toole

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