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Dublin: 12 °C Saturday 17 November, 2018
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Good afternoon everyone.

Well, this is the sports equivalent of Christmas morning, isn’t it? And we all must’ve been pretty good this year to get served up such a treat.

It’s the master against the pupil as Brian Cody takes on Anthony Cunningham, a long-time admirer of the Kilkenny coaching icon. Can he accomplish something so many others have failed to and get one over on Cody and his cohorts? We shall see.

Plenty of chat and analysis to come before throw-in at 3.30. Thanks for joining us.

Feel free to leave your comments and get in touch via, Twitter, Facebook and email (eoin@the42.ie). If you’re overseas and following from afar, it will be great to hear from you.

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A few well-known faces are at Croker today…

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But the award for the best-dressed supporter we’ve seen so far goes to…

Can Kelly Source: James Crombie/INPHO

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Kilkenny are out on the field to take in their warm-up. The thrill of racing out onto the sacred turf – it must be unbeatable. Brian Cody observes his squad as they go through their paces. How the hunger is still there for that man is beyond me. Incredible.

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Richie Power, by the way, is heavily strapped. He hasn’t featured this year because of knee problems but is included on the bench – as is Jackie Tyrrell.

We’ll go through the teams again in a few moments.

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And by Richie Hogan, I obviously meant Richie Power! Hogan starts at centre-forward, just to confirm.

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Here are the starting XV for both Kilkenny and Galway:

Kilkenny: Eoin Murphy; Paul Murphy, Joey Holden, Shane Prendergast; Padraig Walsh, Kieran Joyce, Cillian Buckley; Michael Fennelly, Conor Fogarty; Walter Walsh, Richie Hogan, TJ Reid; Ger Aylward, Colin Fennelly, Eoin Larkin

Galway: Colm Callanan; Johnny Coen, John Hanbury, Padraig Mannion; Aidan Harte, Iarla Tannian, Daithi Burke; Andy Smith, David Burke; Conor Whelan, Cyril Donnellan, Jonathan Glynn; Jason Flynn, Joe Canning, Cathal Mannion

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On RTE, Eddie Brennan has confirmed that Richie Hogan was a concern after picking up a quad problem in training. But, as of right now, he is starting for the Cats.

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Here’s Jackie Cahill with the 6 talking points ahead of this clash – including thoughts on Galway’s mental toughness.

The Westerners took their game to a new level in the semi-final victory over Tipp, turning over the Premier County time and time again to finish with a one-point win.

Winning such a tight game is something we haven’t been accustomed to with Galway in recent times and the nature of that hard-earned success is sure to have fuelled them with massive reserves of self-confidence and belief.”

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We’re almost there, everyone! Handshakes are taking place and the parade is about to get underway. Will this be the thriller we’re all expecting?

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Galway’s Andrew Smith races onto the hallowed turf. A great image.

Galway make their way out Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

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We’re going to have the anthem and then we’re underway! Anticipation building by the second. Huge din inside Croker.

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1′ - And that’s already a wide for Kilkenny from Colin Fennelly – good pressure from the Galway backs after an initial burst from Conor Fogarty.

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Kilkenny 0-00 Galway 0-01: Joe Canning with the first score of the game from a close-range free.

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Kilkenny 0-01 Galway 0-01: Mick Fennelly from a huge way levels the scores. Unerring accuracy from the midfielder.

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Kilkenny 0-02 Galway 0-02: It could’ve been a goal for the Cats but Johnny Coen made a superb block from Walter Walsh. But it’s recycled and Aylward knocks it over. But moments later, Canning levels with his score from play.

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That’s a poor wide from Aidan Harte and it should’ve been Galway in front. Still level here for the moment.

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A booming free is well wide of the Kilkenny goal but umpire says it’s a ’65 before being overruled by referee James Owens. Meanwhile, a second wide for Kilkenny courtesy of TJ Reid.

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Kilkenny 0-02 Galway 0-03: Nice vision from Conor Whelan  as he picks out Canning and it’s his and Galway’s third.

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Kilkenny 0-02 Galway 0-04: Another wide from Kilkenny and at the other end Cyril Donnellan turns and fires over the bar. Galway by two.

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Kilkenny 0-03 Galway 0-04: It could’ve been a goal for Canning at one end as Eoin Murphy tries to leave the ball bounce past him and the end-line. But it stops short and Canning was sniffing around dangerously. Meanwhile, Eoin Larkin makes it a one-point game moments later. Strange start from Kilkenny.

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Kilkenny 0-03 Galway 0-05: Canning with another free and Galway inch two in front again. Joe looks in the mood.

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Kilkenny 1-03 Galway 0-05: GOAL! And just like that, Kilkenny are in front. Walsh bursts through and unselfishly hands off to Reid who drives home from close in.

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Kilkenny 1-04 Galway 0-06: Momentum swings in the Cats’ favour here now. A handy free for Reid and it’s Kilkenny by two. But David Burke responds instantly for the Tribesmen.

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Kilkenny 1-04 Galway 0-07: Free-in for Galway here as Prendergast fouls. Canning taps over his fifth and we’re level.

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Kilkenny 1-05 Galway 0-07: At the other end, a free for Kilkenny and a handy score. Talk that Reid may go for goal but he pops it over instead.

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Kilkenny 1-05 Galway 0-08: Jason Flynn comes way out to step up to the free and makes no mistake. Superb score from a huge way out with plenty to spare too!

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Kilkenny 1-05 Galway 0-09: Cunnigham’s men are working tirelessly without the ball and win a free after some dogged efforts. Canning points for his sixth and they’re in front.

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Kilkenny 1-05 0-10 Galway: That’s incredible from Flynn. He’s pointed from a MASSIVE way out and Galway lead by two. Two monstrous scores from the corner forward.

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SUBSTITUTION! A change for Galway here. David Collins has come on for Aidan Harte – it remains to be seen if that’s injury-related.

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Kilkenny 1-05 Galway 0-11: Conor Whelan knocks it over after some great work down the right side to make space inside. Galway are in control here and something not quite right about Kilkenny. By the way, Cody was not best pleased when Galway were awarded that free a few moments ago that Flynn pointed and showed his displeasure on the sideline.

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Kilkenny 1-05 Galway 0-12: Jason Flynn has his third of the game and Galway are in front by four. Without that Reid goal, this would be an awful first half for the Cats.

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Kilkenny 1-06 Galway 0-12: The crowd thought David Burke had knocked it over but it drifts wide. That’s poor. Kilkenny have not been at the races and Hogan pops over and cuts the deficit to three. Silly from Galway.

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Kilkenny 1-07 Galway 0-13: Dangerous ball in and it’s Ger Aylward who reacts to direct it over the bar. Could’ve gone anywhere. At the other end, Flynn scores his fourth.

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Kilkenny 1-08 Galway 0-14: OUCH! That’s a big call. James Owens decides that a dangerous foul from Coen on Colin Fennelly is worthy of a yellow card after a very long lecture. It could’ve easily been red. TJ Reid taps over the free while Canning points at the other end. Three point game.

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Joe Canning is unhappy. He sends a shot towards the sticks and it’s flagged as wide. But he thinks differently and begs Owens to review the decision and gestures for HawkEye to be used. But the referee is happy with the initial decision.

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Well, that was interesting. Galway bossed the opening period and are deservedly in front with Kilkenny struggling to find a real rhythm or get their key players into the game. They’ve also conceded a rake of frees and the Tribesmen have been deadly from placed balls – Canning and the excellent Jason Flynn contributing the bulk of Galway’s scores. And still, Kilkenny are only three behind. They really haven’t created anything outside of the TJ Reid goal while Galway have hit a handful of poor wides.

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Here’s our Fintan O’Toole with his take of that first-half.

Galway will never get a better chance to end their All-Ireland final drought. They’ve weathered the storm after TJ Reid’s goal and have curtailed Richie Hogan. Both Joe Canning and Jason Flynn excelling for Galway, their work rate has also been outstanding. Three-point lead though keeps Kilkenny very much in the hunt.”

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Here is the Johnny Coen challenge on Colin Fennelly that occurred late in the half. James Owens gave a long lecture before showing the Galway corner back a yellow card. The RTE panel are all agreed it should’ve been a red.

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Anthony Daly, such a great hurling analyst, says the first-half was ‘shapeless’ and that he saw a new kind of ruthlessness about Galway. Hard to disagree with either comment.

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Kilkenny 1-09 Galway 0-14: First score of the second half as Conor Fogarty drives a free from distance after a debatable foul given against Galway.

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Kilkenny 1-10 Galway 0-14: Reid points from another free to make it 1-04 for him. And it’s a one-point game. By the way, Richie Hogan has ripped off the strapping on his injured leg. A show of defiance!

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Kilkenny 1-10 Galway 0-14: And we’re level as Reid points. How did that happen? Well, it did. Also, Mick Fennelly and Andy Smith have both picked up yellow cards for a bit guff between them prior to Reid’s strike.

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Another yellow as Fennelly clatters into David Burke. Doesn’t look like much but Owens has been dishing yellows like they’re going out of fashion since the restart.

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Kilkenny 1-12 Galway 0-15: The Tribesmen edge in front temporarily through David Collins but it’s Hogan who pops up with another score.

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Kilkenny 1-14 Galway 0-15: Colin Fennelly races towards goal and just as he’s about to shoot, Johnny Hanbury conjures a brilliant hook and Callanan makes a save moments later. From the resultant 65′, Reid points. And after another stop from Callanan shortly after, Walsh gets his first of the game. Pendulum swinging.

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Kilkenny 1-14 Galway 0-16: Superb from Conor Whelan who pings a superb strike towards the posts. After some deliberation, Owens asks for HawkEye to be used and the score is given. Big moment, potentially. Fabulous score.

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Kilkenny 1-15 Galway 0-16: TJ Reid scores with another free and he’s been flawless from placed balls (not too bad from open play either after that first-half goal). Kilkenny by two.

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Kilkenny 1-17 Galway 0-16: Scrappy from Galway as they just can’t break through the Kilkenny defence. Ball harmlessly bounces over the sideline and the Cats have possession. It ends up with Eoin Larkin who instinctively pops it over. Aylward follows suit moments later and it’s been a seven-point swing since half-time.

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Another change for Galway here. Conor Cooney, who we pinpointed before the game, comes in for Andy Smith.

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Kilkenny 1-17 Galway 0-17: TJ Reid wants HawkEye to have a look at his effort. He gets his wish but it’s wide and Galway are still in this – just. And then, just when they needed something, Collins steps forward and drives over the bar. A goal in it.

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Change for Kilkenny – Richie Power is coming in and Richie Hogan is making way. The latter not happy at all with that decision. 10 minutes to go.

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Kilkenny 1-18 Galway 0-17: Aylward has been booked for Kilkenny and inexplicably Canning misses a free after Galway work tirelessly to get something going. Big moment. At the other end, Fennelly points. And that’s the difference.

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Kilkenny 1-19 Galway 0-17: What a chance. Galway need something special and Conor Whelan really could’ve provided it. He’s through on goal after the ball deflects off a Kilkenny hand but on his left side, he can’t properly connect and it’s a dreadful wide. At the other end, Padraig Walsh adds another for Kilkenny.

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Kilkenny 1-19 Galway 0-18: Canning points from a free. It’s just their fourth score of the second half. Still in this, just about.

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Kilkenny 1-20 Galway 0-18: Colin Fennelly grabs a second point and it’s five between them. There’s not a lot left in the tank here as the full-forward isn’t closed down quickly enough and can settle before pointing. Meanwhile, another wide for Galway.

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Kilkenny 1-22 Galway 0-18: Two quick scores from Mick Fennelly and Walter Walsh and it’s a sad sight. Imperious from the Cats and Galway have little to give here.

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Kilkenny 1-22 Galway 1-18: GOAL! Canning sends the free to the net at the second time of asking but there’s little time left for a miracle.

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Wow. Kilkenny retain the Liam MacCarthy but it was some turnaround. In the first half, they really struggled to find a rhythm and get going with Galway dominant. But after the restart, it was a completely different state of affairs and it was a hungry, determined, resilient Kilkenny side that re-emerged from the dressing room.

 

They racked up fourteen points in the second half but it was their defensive display that gave them the platform with Galway unable to find the same space they did in the opening 35 minutes. And Kilkenny were effortless in their ability to get scores with Reid, both Fennellys, Walter Walsh and Eoin Larkin all contributing.

You can’t argue with their dominance. Awesome. And Brian Cody shows no signs of going anywhere just yet.

Thanks for staying with us for our coverage. Plenty more on its way as we get reaction and analysis from another superb day for the Cats.

About the author:

Eoin O'Callaghan

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