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Kilkenny 2-20 Galway 0-24 Kilkenny comeback stuns Galway as Cats land first Leinster title since 2016

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 Eoin Cody, left, and Cillian Buckley of Kilkenny celebrate after the Leinster Hurling Senior Championship Final win

Eoin Cody, left, and Cillian Buckley of Kilkenny celebrate after the Leinster Hurling Senior Championship Final win

Eoin Cody, left, and Cillian Buckley of Kilkenny celebrate after the Leinster Hurling Senior Championship Final win

Kilkenny 2-20 Galway 0-24

Kilkenny came from five points down after the second water break to stage a stunning recovery and win the Leinster title against all the odds.

Galway, favourites after an impressive dispatch of Wexford in the semi-finals, were left shattered as two goals in a minute turned the game on its head just before the hour.

Substitute Richie Hogan, who had a huge influence when he came on in the second half, scored the first with a clever flick after a defensive mix-up. And then TJ Reid, moved to full forward, scored a brilliant second to put Kilkenny in front for the first time.

Hogan finished with 1-2 and could have had a second goal, while Reid finished with 1-10, inspiring Kilkenny to a first provincial title win since 2016. A terrific late catch by Padraig Walsh as Galway chased a goal to save the day prevented a late twist, Galway left with the prospect of having to play a quarter final in less than a week’s time.

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Colin Fennelly lifts the the Bob O'Keeffe Cup

Colin Fennelly lifts the the Bob O'Keeffe Cup

Colin Fennelly lifts the the Bob O'Keeffe Cup

Kilkenny were contesting their third successive final after losing to Wexford last year and Galway the previous season. While they were weakened by withdrawals, Galway strengthened their side with the recall of four-time All-Star Daithi Burke at full back.

Galway led for most of the match after playing with the wind in the first half. At the first water break the sides were level at 0-7 a piece, with Kilkenny heavily reliant on Reid frees, which accounted for six of their scores. Their only score from play came from defender Walsh, an exceptional effort from the wing back in the seventh minute.

Galway went into an early lead with scores from Johnny Coen and a Joe Canning free, further points coming from Cathal Mannion, Coen again and Conor Whelan. Padraic Mannion dropped back in a sweeper role to close up Kilkenny avenues to goal but Galway didn’t sparkle like they had against Wexford, and Kilkenny remained in the game throughout the opening half.

The score of the first half fell to Joseph Cooney in the 22nd minute, the defender making a run from deep to take an expertly-placed line ball from Canning before splitting the posts. A Canning free opened a three-point lead but Kilkenny were dogged and never allowed Galway get too far clear. They also improved their scoring range as the first half wore on, with Martin Keoghan, John Donnelly and Eoin Cody getting off the mark from play.

Whelan had two first half scores but Brian Concannon, outstanding against Wexford, failed to get off the mark. Kilkenny had a let off ten minutes from the interval when Huw Lawlor was out-fielded by Niall Burke close to goal and then Lawlor held his opponent’s hurl as he tried to get free. Referee Fergal Horan didn’t allow the advantage with Concannon free awaiting the pass. Galway pointed the free but remarkably, Lawlor wasn’t booked. The incident highlighted again the need for an effective deterrent in hurling for cynical play.

By half time, Kilkenny were well in the match, trailing just 0-12 to 0-13, although they would have to face the wind in the second half. Eoin Cody’s growing influence prompted Galway to make a change for the second half, replacing Sean Loftus with Aidan Harte.

With the wind Galway pushed into a four-point lead by the second water break, 0-18 to 0-14, with Canning their chief scorer, including one from a line ball. When Galway stretched their lead to five points they looked to be taking charge but two goals in a minute rocked the Tribesmen and changed the course of the match. Canning contributed 0-14 and David Burke scored two points in an impressive cameo, but they didn't hit the level so many expected of them.

Kilkenny have a fortnight to ready themselves for the semi-finals and the chance to make that December finale.

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Scorers: Galway - J Canning 0-14 (0-9 fs, 1 lb, 1 65), C Whelan, J Coen, David Burke 0-2, C Mannion, J Cooney, B Concannon, J Flynn 0-1. Kilkenny: TJ Reid 1-10 (0-9 fs); R Hogan 1-2, C Browne, M Keogan 0-2, J Donnelly, E Cody, P Walsh, L Blanchfield 0-1.

Galway: E Murphy; S Loftus, D Burke; S Cooney; G McInerney, J Cooney, F Burke; P Mannion, J Coen; J Canning, C Mannion, C Cooney; B Concannon, N Burke, C Whelan. Subs: A Harte for Loftus (ht); J Flynn for N Burke (40); David Burke for C Cooney (59); A Tuohy for Cen (69); S Linnane for S Cooney (70);

Kilkenny: E Murphy; C Delaney, H Lawlor, T Walsh; P Walsh, C Buckley, C Browne; R Leahy, C Fogarty; J Donnelly, M Keoghan, TJ Reid, M Keoghan; W Walsh, C Fennelly, E Cody. Subs: R Hogan for W Walsh (45); L Blanchfield for Fennelly (51); R Reid for Fogarty (56); N Brassil for E Cody (60); A Murphy for Leahy (inj 61);

Referee: F Horgan (Tipperary).

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