©INPHO/Mike Shaughnessy
As it happened: Kilkenny v Galway, NHL
The oddity of this year’s NHL format meant that both teams entered this fixture uncertain of progressing. Which way did the pendulum swing? Review our coverage to find out.

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Final score: Kilkenny 3-26 Galway 0-10

BOOM! A rip-roaring start from the Cats has seen the home side burst into a commanding lead. A goal (Matthew Ruth) and point inside the opening five minutes…

Kilkenny 1-1, Galway 0-0

Two points from Galway, both from frees, narrow the lead to two.

Kilkenny 1-1, Galway 0-2

A couple of formalities still to get out of the way…

GALWAY: 1. Jamie Ryan; 2. Declan Connolly, 3. David Collins, 4. Gerard O’Halloran; 5. Tony Og Regan, 6. Fergal Moore, 7. Johnny Coen; 8. Davy Burke, 9. Brian Flaherty; 10. Joe Cooney, 11. Niall Burke, 12. Andy Smyth; 13. Damian Hayes, 14. Iarlaith Tannian, 15. Barry Daly.

KILKENNY: 1. David Herity, 2. Paul Murphy, 3. J.J. Delaney, 4. Kieran Joyce, 5. Tommy Walsh, 6. Brian Hogan, 7. Richie Doyle, 8. Michael Fennelly, 9. Killian Buckley, 10. Michael Rice, 11. Matthew Ruth, Richie Hogan, Colin Fennelly, Eoin Larking, T.J. Reid.

Galway’s resurgence proves short-lived, Kilkenny striking twice through T.J Reid and once through Colin Fennelly.

Kilkenny 2-3, Galway 0-2

A long-range free from Eoin Larkin nudges Kilkenny further in front.

The men in yellow and black have dominated the opening stages, swamping Galway in the centre of the park and proving absolutely ruthless in attack…

Pushed to the left wing, Brian Flaherty spins goalward and dispatches a towering effort between Kilkenny posts. It’s a moment of skill, but hardly the reliable stuff victories are made of.

Kilkenny 2-4, Galway 0-4

Another free from Larkin reasserts Kilkenny’s authority.

Kilkenny 2-5, Galway 0-4

Claiming possession and charging goalward, Michael Rice is body-checked by a pair of overzealous Galway defenders. The result is another point courtesy of a Larkin’s dead ball skills.

Kilkenny 2-6, Galway 0-4

The substitute Bernard Burke makes an immediate impact, sliding a pass to his namesake Niall on the right wing. With a yard of space, he feints inside, composes himself and sends an effort over the bar.

Kilkenny 2-6, Galway 0-5

Again, a point for Galway finds its counterpoint in a moment of skill from Kilkenny. This time it’s Michael Rice who break clear in midfield and strikes a clean ball between the posts.

Kilkenny 2-9, Galway 0-6

Kilkenny are rampant.

First a goal for Eoin Larkin, the forward finding the back of the net after some fleet-footed high-jinks on the right side of the Galway goal, then a brace of points for Fennelly see Kilkenny pull out of sight…

Kilkenny 3-11, Galway 0-6

Some assured interplay in midfield puts the sliotar in the gloved hand of Michael Rice. Without breaking his stride, the Kilkenny man glances goalward and cuts a raking ball over the bar.

Kilkenny 3-12, Galway 0-6

Half-time: Kilkenny 3-12, Galway 0-6

Oh, it’s a mullering, alright. Textbook mullering…

Having struggled to keep pace with Kilkenny for the opening 35 minutes, I can empathise with Anthony Cunningham’s Galway side.

Afforded precious little room in which to express themselves and ill-equipped to mute a ruthless Kilkenny forward line, they’re currently on a highway to NHL humiliation. Determined to atone for last week’s defeat to Cork, their opponents’ formidable work-rate shows no sign of relenting.

Sunday in a tweet.

FACTOID: T.J. Reid, man among men, has scored a formidable 1-3 from play thus far.

We’re back underway…

… and Richie Hogan ensures Kilkenny pick up where they left off, running into an apparent cul de sac in the left corner before shrugging his shoulders and belting a ball over the bar from the most improbable of angles.

Kilkenny 3-13, Galway 0-6

Afforded a rare opportunity to threaten the Kilkenny goal, Andy Smyth lingers over a free on the right wing. After a brief pause, he flips an effort into the centre, but its intercepted and Kilkenny are charging forward again.

Richie Hogan find himself in space, breaks through the middle and drives a low effort towards Jamie Ryan in the Galway net. The keeper saves and, under pressure from Larkin, smashes the ball clear.

Galway relief proves short-lived, however, as the Cats return within seconds to maraud the goal from range.

Kilkenny 3-16 Galway 0-6

Reid palms a soft pass to Larkin, who rounds on goal unchallenged. His effort, struck from 20 yards out, is a formality.

Kilkenny 3-17, Galway 0-6

Tony Óg Regan, marooned on the left wing, puts Galway on the second-half scoreboard.

Colin Fennelly wastes little time in restoring Kilkenny’s lead.

Kilkenny 3-18, Galway 0-7

Another Fennelly, this time Michael, stetches Kilkenny’s lead.

Kilkenny 3-19, Galway 0-7

Reid, drifting left-to-right across the Galway defence, claims possession and lofts another effort over the Jamie Ryan’s bar.

Moments later, the scorer turns provider, clearing a path for Matthew Ruth before setting the goal-scorer clear on goal.

Kilkenny 3-12, Galway 0-7

Nearly certain of victory, Kilkenny are beginning to introduce a number of substitues:

Fogarty replaces Larkin, Paddy Hogan replaces Brian Hogan…

A free on the right wing grants Galway a moment’s respite and, thanks to Niall Burke’s composure, their second point of the second half.

Emboldened, perhaps, by a slight dip in Kilkenny’s enthusiasm, Bernard Burke muscles his way into space on the right wing and races clear. He’s intercepted before David Herity’s goal is threatened, but the resulting 65 allows Burke to showcase his skills for a second time.

Kilkenny 3-22, Galway 0-9

Another point for Anthony Cunningham’s men.. and a wide for Kilkenny! Could the contours of this game be shifting on some fundamental level?!

No. No, they couldn’t.

Kilkenny 3-22, Galway 0-10

As Richie Hogan puts Kilkenny 22 points ahead…

Kilkenny 3-23, Galway 0-10

A huge cut from the left touchline is claimed by Colin Fennelly. Shrugging clear of Gerard O’Halloran, he thumps an effort across the face of goal.

Close one.

The lesser-known brother of Joel and Ethan, Johnny Coen, is replaced by Padraig Shiels.

Richie Hogan foolishly headbutts the knees of Jamie Ryan and rolls about in anticipation of medical attention.

John Mulhall joins the party in his place.

Two points in quick succession exact retribution for Hogan’s injury.

Kilkenny 3-25, Galway 0-10

What’s that? Another point for Colin Fennelly? Surely not.

Kilkenny 3-26, Galway 0-10

Full-time: Kilkenny 3-26, Galway 0-10

Man of the Match/superhuman T.J. Reid: “We performed well today, I suppose…”

He has Vaseline on his eyebrows.

New Irish phrase of the day: “Níor tháinig sibh ar chor ar bith inniú.”/”They didn’t bring it today, yo!”

And so ends a closely-fought encounter at Nowlan Park…

I’ll leave you with the concluding paragraph from RTÉ’s match preview, titled “Galway look capable of upsetting Cats”:

“Cunningham’s big task will be to get his players in the right frame of mind for this game. They will obviously be upset over last week’s events, but Cork and Dublin have shown that Kilkenny are vulnerable. That must give Galway some encouragement, and if they actually believe they can be successful at Nowlan Park then it might just happen.

Verdict: Galway”

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