/ GAA

Kilkenny 2-20 Galway 3-13

Updated: Sunday, 21 Jun 2009 11:13

Galway's Niall Healy goes to ground before going on to score his side's third goal
Galway's Niall Healy goes to ground before going on to score his side's third goal

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All-Ireland champions Kilkenny made it through to another Leinster SHC final, but Galway announced their arrival in the east with a bold proclamation of intent.

The Tribesmen, with a 2-09 tally from Joe Canning, threatened to shock the Cats, but the legend that is the current Kilkenny side stood firm and killed the game off with a devastating late scoring burst.

A crowd of 15,150 at O'Connor Park in Tullamore was treated to a thrilling game of high quality hurling.

In the end, John McIntyre was left to depend too heavily on the brilliant Canning for scores, while Brian Cody had magnificent marksmen in Henry Shefflin (0-10), Eoin Larkin and Aidan Fogarty.

Galway had their supporters in raptures for the first five glorious minutes, during which they raced into a 1-03 to 0-01 lead.

And it was Canning who did all that early damage to a nervous looking Cats defence. After stroking a couple of points, he darted off on a diagonal run before lashing the sliotar past PJ Ryan for a brilliant goal.

Shefflin's accuracy from frees steadied Kilkenny nerves, but by the end of the opening quarter, they still looked somewhat shaky and unusually unsure of themselves.

But JJ Delaney won a couple of important balls ahead of Canning, and the confidence began to permeate the rest of the team.

Shefflin's perfect pass gave Martin Comerford the chance of a goal, but his shot zipped just wide at the far post.

Shefflin again and Aidan Fogarty added points, but canning once again responded to keep the Tribesmen in front.

That was until the All-Ireland champions produced a typical blast, with two goals in as many minutes. Richie Power punished indecision in the Galway defence to hit the first from close range on 28 minutes, and it was Power who turned creator for Eddie Brennan to net the second.

Brian Cody's men turned around with a 2-07 to 1-08 lead, but a foul on Niall Healy gave Canning the chance to blast a 20-metre free to the net three minutes into the second half.

Five minutes later they had the ball in the net again, Healy scooping home from a Damien Hayes assist.

Galway now led by five points, and Kilkenny appeared to be on the ropes, but they held their nerve and Shefflin provided the scoring class, along with Aidan Fogarty.

Without any sign of panic, they clawed their way back, and it was Eoin Larkin's long-range point which brought the sides level with 10 minutes to play.

Larkin edged the Cats back in front, and Galway's character was now under serious question.

The Connacht men were reduced to 14 when substitute Richie Murray received a straight red card, and Larkin continued to float over delightful scores as a brave Galway challenge gave way to the masters.

Kilkenny: PJ Ryan, M Kavanagh, JJ Delaney, J Tyrell, T Walsh, J Tennyson, J Dalton, M Fennelly, M Rice, H Shefflin (0-10, 6f, 1 '65'), M Comerford, E Larkin (0-05), E Brennan (1-00), R Power (1-00), A Fogarty (0-03).

Subs: D Lyng (0-02) for Fennelly (47), S Cummins for Kavanagh (49), R Hogan for Brennan (61).

Galway: C Callanan, D Joyce, S Kavanagh, O Canning, F Moore, J Lee, A Cullinane, E Lynch, K Hynes, A Callanan (0-1), C Donnellan (0-1), A Smith, D Hayes (0-1), J Canning (2-09, 1-07f, 0-02 '65'), N Healy (1-01).

Subs: D Tierney for Hynes (30), A Kerins for Smith (59), R Murray for Donnellan (60).

Referee: B Kelly (Westmeath).

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