Kilkenny 2-22 Galway 3-20: Tribesmen hold out for victory in classic
Last Updated: 09/06/19 4:13pm
Galway held out for a 3-20 to 2-22 victory after a late comeback from 13-man Kilkenny in the Leinster Hurling Championship.
Much of the talk surrounding the build-up to the Nowlan Park showdown was about the absentees on both sides, but the men on the field served up an intense battle in what was arguably the game of the summer thus far.
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Right from the off, Galway looked a much-improved side from the sluggish performance against Wexford. The 2017 All-Ireland champions played with a renewed swagger, and took the game to their hosts right from the off.
Jonathan Glynn provided a ball-winning outlet in the forwards, while Conor Whelan and Adrian Tuohy were impressively feeding off the breaks.
A pivotal moment came in the 11th minute when Whelan peeled around the back to fire past Darren Brennan, and Micheal Donoghue's charges kicked on to open a five-point lead.
However, Kilkenny were never going to let their visitors walk all over them. They responded brightly, and moments later they were back in the lead thanks to a goal from TJ Reid.
Nonetheless, the Tribesmen had found their rhythm. Cathal Mannion's radar was finely tuned in the Nore-side venue, picking long-range points aided by the wind as Galway stretched clear with half-time approaching.
Brian Cody clearly felt the overwhelming momentum, subbing Richie Hogan on for Adrian Mullen before half-time.
The Cats did rally, but Galway deservedly led by three at the break.
The opening exchanges of the second half continued in much the same vein. Mannion and Reid continued to trade scores, but a real turning point came in the 49th minute.
Paul Murphy, who was already on a yellow card, was given his marching orders after conceding a free. Perhaps the second booking was a case of being punished for continuous fouls, rather than getting a yellow solely for the infringement in question.
Moments later, Brian Concannon collected a crossfield ball from Jason Flynn and rifled it to the net, and the pendulum had well and truly swung.
Galway were beginning to ride a wave of momentum, and it looked like they only had to see out the result as they enjoyed a seven-point cushion.
However, Kilkenny aren't easily beaten at home.
A high ball landed into the Cats full-forward line, and TJ Reid pounced to bury it past Colm Callanan. The Tribesmen immediately responded as Johnny Coen raised a green flag up the other end with a fierce shot.
Galway then joined Kilkenny on 14 men as John Hanbury was shown a straight red for a high challenge, but Ger Aylward soon became the third player to be sent off as the clock ticked on. All the while, TJ Reid kept the scoreboard ticking over with a string of frees, and it was suddenly a three-point game as it entered injury-time.
Reid and Richie Leahy brought it back to one, but ultimately the 13 men of Kilkenny ran out of time.
This result means that the Leinster Championship is too close to call ahead of the final round next Saturday, with four teams vying for three spots in the All-Ireland series.
Leinster Hurling Championship table
Sky Sports' live GAA coverage continues on Saturday, June 15 with Leinster Hurling Championship action.