Galway are the new All-Ireland Minor Hurling champions after a sparkling Croke Park performance which saw them gain revenge for defeat by Kilkenny in last year’s final.
Manager Mattie Murphy is celebrating his fifth title with the young Tribesmen after a brilliant attacking display left the youthful kittens unable to claw their way back.
Skipper Richie Cummins laid the foundations for success with two first half goals, and despite Kilkenny’s spirited second half comeback, the Connacht lads were able to push on for a fully deserved success
A closely contested opening quarter saw the sides level on five occasions, but Kilkenny failed to score for the remainder of the first half after Cathal Kenny had shot them ahead for the first time in the ninth minute.
Earlier, Cummins had netted on the rebound after goalkeeper John Power had kept out Ronan Badger’s sixth minute snapshot.
The Cats hit back within two minutes with a Martin Gaffney goal, an expert finish steered past Fergal Flannery from Cillian Buckley’s assist.
But the Kilkenny challenge slipped badly off the pace as the Galway attack cut loose.
A string of excellent points from Niall Burke and Jason Grealish helped them pull clear, and they could have had another goal when Burke drove in a free, and as the ball was parried, but Richie Doyle denied Badger.
Skipper Cummins netted his second goal in stoppage time in the first half, finishing clinically from close range to send his side in with a commanding 2-9 to 1-5 advantage.
But the reigning champions regrouped during the interval, and came out for the second half in defiant form.
Cillian Buckley ripped through the Galway defence to blast home a brilliant 40th minute goal, and Canice Maher trimmed what had been a seven points deficit back to a single point.
Galway kept their noses in front with scores from Donie Fox and midfielder David Glennon, with a splendid long range effort, and some brilliant defending from Kilkenny centre back Richie Doyle prevented them from going further ahead.
But Galway’s attacking power, allied to some superb defending from Daithi Burke, Joseph Cooney and Brian Flaherty, proved decisive.
Moloney and midfielder David Glennon swept over the late points which pushed Murphy’s men over the winning line.
Kilkenny: J Power, J Lyng, D Kenny, I Duggan, J Gannon, R Doyle, L Harney, C Kenny (0-2), O Walsh (0-1), G Brennan, S Kehoe (0-1), C Buckley (1-2), M Gaffney (1-3, 0-3f), W Walsh (0-1), C Maher (0-1).
Subs: S Phelan for Kehoe (h-t), G Aylward for Walsh (51), P Walsh for Brennan (56)
Galway: F Flannery, J Coen, D Burke, Conor Burke, M Keating, B Flaherty, J Cooney, J Regan, D Glennon (0-2), D Fox (0-2), N Burke (0-4, 1f, 1 ’65), J Grealish (0-2), R Cummins (2-1), R Badger, S Moloney (0-3, 1f, 1 ’65).
Subs: M Horan for Keating (21), T Haran (0-1) for Badger (45), N Keary for Grealish (52)
Referee: J McGrath (Westmeath)