Kilkenny booked a place in the final three week’s from now courtesy of a deserved 4-16 to 2-15 victory over a disappointing Galway side in Thurles this evening.
Anthony Cunningham’s charges were warm favourites to advance to the decider but it was Kilkenny who displayed the greater hunger and drive. Right from the throw in the Leinster champions were aggressive in the tackle and they won the majority of the breaking ball available.
Galway employed similar tactics to their senior counterparts by crowding the middle third but Kilkenny refused to be sucked in and they maintained their shape with admirable composure. As a result there was a huge amount of space for their forwards to operate in.
First half goals from Ollie Walsh, Ger Alyward and John Power had Galway on the back foot but they tried hard to respond and landed some fine scores from Niall Burke and Jonathon Glynn. The margin was back to seven at the interval.
An early second half goal was what the tribesmen required to ignite their challenge but it was Richie Mulrooney’s men who got one via a John Power penalty. The margin was now back to ten points and Galway were in real trouble.
They refused to surrender though and when Davy Glennon and Joseph Cooney broke through for goals the game was back in the melting pot once again. Kilkenny showed remarkable composure in the closing five minutes however and the closed out the game with four unanswered points to run out deserving victors by seven points.
Kilkenny: D Walsh, J Corcoran, W Phelan, B Kennedy, L Harney, R Doyle, J Lyng, G Brennan, O Walsh (1-00), K Kelly (0-06 4f), P Walsh (0-02), C Buckley (0-02), W Walsh (0-02), J Power (2-01 1pen), G Aylward (1-03)
Galway: F Flannery, B Flaherty, D Burke, J Grealish, J Coen, D Burke, J Cooney (1-00), P Brehony, T Haran (0-03 2f), R Commins (0-01), N Burke (0-08 5f), J Regan, C Cooney, J Glynn (0-02), D Glennon (1-01)
Subs: D Fox for P Brehony, P Hooban for J Grealish, P Kileen for D Burke, S Maloney for R Commins.