Kilkenny have been crowned All-Ireland senior hurling champions for the 34th time with a convincing 3-22 to 3-11 replay win over Galway.
It was a personal milestone for Henry Shefflin, who became the first player to win nine All-Ireland medals on the field of play, and he marked a special occasion with another special performance, contributing nine points to the Kilkenny cause.
And championship debutant Walter Walsh also wrote his name in large print over the showpiece occasion, claiming a 1-3 haul to announce his arrival on the senior stage in spectacular fashion.
Galway stunned the champions with two first-half goals, but their task became impossible 20 minutes from the end when they were reduced to 14 men.
Shefflin stroked over a couple of frees, with Walsh also getting his name on the score sheet as the Cats settled into an early rhythm.
While Joe Canning converted two frees, there was no indication that Galway would trouble a dominant Kilkenny defence until the game suddenly exploded into spectacular drama with three goals in as many minutes.
Galway’s David Burke bagged two of them with a quick-fire double strike.
First he flicked to the net from Iarlaith Tannian’s booming delivery and a minute later he finished off a wonderful move to stun the champions.
Cyril Donnellan and Damien Hayes combined to slice open the Kilkenny defence, and Burke applied a clinical finish past David Herity to give the Tribesmen a three-point lead.
But Kilkenny’s response was quite devastating - a 1-07 salvo without reply as they seized back control with ruthless efficiency.
James Skehill, a major pre-match doubt due to a shoulder injury, saved from Eoin Larkin, but Richie Power reacted to finish to the net from close range in the 19th minute.
Shefflin, Walsh, Richie Hogan and TJ Reid all tagged on points as they moved six clear, but Galway, who failed to score a point from play in the first half, closed the gap with two Canning points.
Kilkenny led by 1-11 to 2-04 at the interval, and Richie Hogan’s star quality continued to shine as he knocked over his second score.
Substitute goalkeeper Fergal Flannery, who came in at half-time, Skehill’s damaged shoulder forcing him out of the game, had to make a smart save from Richie Power, with Shefflin converting the resultant ’65.
Brian Hogan, dominant at the heart of the Kilkenny defence, frustrated Galway’s efforts to revive their challenge, but the westerners did register a first point from play through Andy Smith.
Galway had the ball in the net again, but referee James McGrath opted not to allow Damien Hayes an advantage and called play back, to the fury of the Tribesmen, awarding a free which Canning converted.
And the Galway full-forward executed a sublime skill, steering a sideline cut between the posts to narrow the gap to three.
Galway were now performing with passion and belief, and Canning came close to grabbing a third goal when he rifled a shot against the butt of a post.
The chance was lost though, and the Connacht men suffered a blow moments later when Cyril Donnellan received a straight red card in the 48th minute for catching JJ Delaney with his hurl.
Kilkenny seized the opportunity to regain control and points from Richie Power, Michael Fennelly, Walsh and Shefflin eased them eight clear.
And Walsh completed a dream debut with a 58th minute goal, finishing from close range after Flannery had saved from TJ Reid.
Substitute Colin Fennelly made absolutely certain of MacCarthy Cup retention with his side’s third goal, opening out a massive 15-point lead.
Galway restored some pride late on with a superb goal from teenage substitute Johnny Glynn, but this was another day that belonged to Brian Cody’s great Kilkenny team.
Kilkenny scorers: W Walsh 1-03, R Power 1-02, C Fennelly 1-00, H Shefflin 0-09 (5f, 2 ’65), R Hogan 0-03, E Larkin, TJ Reid, C Buckley, M Fennelly, K Joyce (f) 0-01 each
Galway scorers: D Burke 2-00, J Glynn 1-00, J Canning 0-09 (5f, 1 ’65, 1 s/l), A Smith, T Og Regan 0-01 each.
Kilkenny: D Herity, P Murphy, JJ D, J Tyrrell, T Walsh, B Hogan, K Joyce, C Buckley, R Hogan, M Fennelly, H Shefflin, R Power, E Larkin, TJ Reid, R Hogan, W Walsh.
Subs: C Fennelly for Walsh, N Hickey for Joyce.
Galway: J Skehill, J Coen, K Hynes, F Moore, N Donoghue, T Og Regan, D Collins, I Tannian, A Smith, D Burke, N Burke, C Donnellan, D Hayes, J Canning, J Regan.
Subs: J Cooney for Donoghue, J Glynn for Regan, F Flannery for Skehill, C Cooney for N Burke, D Glennon for Smith.
Referee: J McGrath (Westmeath).