GAA Hurling All-Ireland Senior Championship Final

Mon 10th Sep Paul Fitzgerald

GAA Hurling All-Ireland Senior Championship Final

Henry ShefflinGalway 2-13 Kilkenny 0-19

Galway and Kilkenny will have to meet again on Sunday, September 30 – the first All-Ireland hurling final replay since 1959 – after Joe Canning’s 73rd minute free salvaged a draw for the Tribesmen in a dramatic final at Croke Park.

Canning forced a replay with what was effectively the last puck of a remarkable game, the Portumna man showing huge composure to add his ninth point of the day to an early goal, after Davy Glennon was fouled just under the Hogan Stand.

Galway led by seven points at one stage after dominating the first half, and yet it is Anthony Cunningham’s side who will be relieved to have another opportunity in three weeks’ time after very nearly throwing away their big chance at ending a 24-year All-Ireland famine.

Kilkenny struggled badly in the first half, looking ragged and out of shape in defence at times, as Cunningham won the tactical battle with his counterpart, Brian Cody.

However, the Cats recovered brilliantly and struck three crucial points – all from Henry Shefflin frees – at the end of the first half and had the gap down to five points, 1-9 to 0-7, at the break.

From there, Kilkenny seized the momentum. Brian Hogan, Tommy Walsh and a hugely impressive Shefflin, led the charge for the Cats, who hurled with far greater intensity and desire after the break, in direct contrast to their off-colour first-half showing.

Shefflin opened the second half scoring for Kilkenny from a free – he would finish with 0-12 – before Galway hit a succession of poor wides from David Burke, Andrew Smith and Canning. The Cats had their tails up, and with their defence now on top, Brian Hogan took control of the game from centre-back.

Five points in succession drew Kilkenny level by the 50th minute, as Shefflin hit a majestic point, controlling the ball on his hurl after Brian Hogan’s clearance, turning and slotting it over the bar. He had Kilkenny ahead four minutes later from a free.

And then, completely against the run of play, Galway snaffled a goal. Brian Hogan and Jackie Tyrrell collided when attempting to deal with a ball into the full-back line, and Niall Burke pounced when it dropped loose, firing past Herity to leave Galway 2-10 to 0-14 ahead.

Shefflin pulled a free back and then the 10-time GAA All Star majestically created an opening for Colin Fennelly with a brilliant hand pass. Fennelly’s shot, though, was superbly saved by Galway goalkeeper James Skehill. Skehill conceded a free when he smothered the loose ball and Shefflin sent over the equaliser from the resultant placed ball.

Two Canning frees put Galway back into the lead, but Shefflin had his side level once again with four minutes to go, driving over a monster free from way out. Galway were struggling all over the field, with the excellent Iarla Tannian seemingly fighting a one-man against a rampant Kilkenny side.

With two minutes of regular time left, Kilkenny went on the attack again. Eoin Larkin won a breaking ball and was fouled by Skehill. Barry Kelly pointed to the penalty spot and Shefflin opted to drill the ball over the bar, giving his side a deserved lead.

Kilkenny looked like the only team capable of going on to win the game, but Galway actually had two late shots at glory, which Tannian and Canning both missed. But, then, with seconds remaining, Glennon was fouled and Canning struck the free which saved his side from a cruel defeat.

It was all so different in the first half. In what was a tense and scrappy opening to the game, Galway looked very nervous. Shefflin opened the scoring from a free in the fifth minute before Andrew Smith levelled matters, clipping a shot over after Canning won the first of his battles with his marker, JJ Delaney.

Canning’s movement between midfield and the full-forward line was causing panic in the Kilkenny defence, with Delaney forced to follow the Portumna ace out the field while Tommy Walsh and Kieran Joyce frequently guarded the edge of the square.

Canning blew the game open on 10 minutes. James Regan won a great ball and flicked it inside to Canning, who burst through the Cats’ defence and drilled a shot low to Herity’s right side and to the back of the net. Canning followed up with another score a minute later, picking up Brian Hogan’s miss-hit clearance and driving a shot over the bar.

Kilkenny, 1-2 to 0-1 down already, looked in disarray, utterly consumed by curbing Canning’s influence, but lacking any shape and defensive coherence as a result. When Shefflin had a chance to pop over a much-needed score from a free on 16 minutes, he opted to go for goal with a low drive from 21 yards, but his shot was saved by Fergal Moore on the line, and deflected out for a 65, which the Ballyhale man pulled wide. Richie Hogan did pull a score back on 18 minutes, taking advantage of some superb work by Aidan Foagrty.

Galway, however, were dominant, with Niall Burke making hay under James Skehill’s booming puck-outs. Canning dropped over two frees after needless Kilkenny fouls, while Niall Burke himself got on the score sheet when he beat Brian Hogan under a high ball and fired over a point.

Three points in quick succession gave Galway a 1-5 to 0-2 lead by the 22nd minute, at which stage Kilkenny had already hit six wides. TJ Reid, who started in the corner, moved out to centre-forward, won a puck-out and put over a fine score, before Galway reacted with another Canning free and a Niall Donoghue effort.

Canning made it 1-8 to 0-4, bringing his personal haul to 1-5, with yet another free, and Galway were full value for their lead having dominated the opening half hour.

Inevitably, Kilkenny started to hurl as the half-time whistle beckoned. Three quick frees from Shefflin cut the gap to just four. However, Canning had the final say in the first half, dropping over a free from a tight angle after Herity had done well to stop a weak shot from Andrew Smith.

Kilkenny started the second half where they left off in the first. They battled back and dominated much of the rest of the game. However, Canning had the final say, with his nerveless free ensuring a replay on September 30.  

Kilkenny scorers: H Shefflin 0-12 (0-1f, 0-1pen), E Larkin, TJ Reid 0-2 each, A Fogarty, R Power, R Hogan.

Galway scorers: J Canning 1-9 (0-08f), N Burke 1-2, A Smith, N Donoghue 0-1 each.

Kilkenny: D Herity; P Murphy, JJ Delaney, J Tyrrell; T Walsh, B Hogan, K Joyce; M Fennelly, R Hogan; H Shefflin, TJ Reid, E Larkin; C Fennelly, R Power, A Fogarty. Subs: M Ruth for C Fennelly (63).

Galway: J Skehill; D Collins, K Hynes, F Moore; N Donoghue, T Regan, J Coen; A Smith, I Tannian; D Burke, N Burke, C Donnellan; D Hayes, J Canning, J Regan. Subs: J Cooney for K Hynes (31-32, blood sub), C Cooney for J Regan (52), J Glynn for C Cooney (61), J Cooney for N Burke (63), D Glennon for D Hayes (69).

Referee: Barry Kelly (Westmeath).

Attendance: 81,932.

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