Galway 3-13 Kilkenny 1-17
Galway advanced to a first ever Leinster U21 hurling final after a narrow victory over Kilkenny, with a very impressive second-half display ensuring progression for Tony Ward’s side.
Evan Niland opened the scoring with a point in the sixth minute, which was cancelled out by James Bergin’s free shortly after.
The same players traded further points to leave the sides level at two points apiece with 15 played before Colum Prenderville gave Kilkenny the lead for the first time.
Evan Niland then got the game's opening goal with a superb finish to the back of the net, to give the Tribesmen a two-point advantage.
Evan Niland Goal Galway pic.twitter.com/hbcogSECg0— The GAA (@officialgaa) June 20, 2018
Adrian Mullen responded for Kilkenny, but Niland again settled his side with a free.
Cianan Fahy’s effort left the gap at three points and it was tit for tat up until the interval, with Galway holding a slight advantage throughout.
James Bergin’s stoppage effort reduced the deficit to one point heading into the break, but another effort from Fahy gave his side a deserved 1-8 to 0-9 lead at half time.
The Cats had a great chance for goal just after the restart, but Conor Hennessy was denied by the Galway netminder Eanna Murphy and that was as good as it got for Kilkenny, Galway dominating proceedings from this point onwards.
Sean Bleahene’s goal after 35 minutes gave Ward’s charges a six-point lead and an excellent finish from Cianan Fahy left the scoreboard reading 3-12 to 0-12 in favour of Galway heading into the final quarter.
Cianan Fahy Goal Galway pic.twitter.com/usnktlVgK8— The GAA (@officialgaa) June 20, 2018
Kilkenny scored four unanswered points to bring the deficit down to five points but Kevin Cooney settled Galway with an excellent score.
A goal and a point from John Donnelly reduced the gap to two points, but it was too little too late as Galway advanced to face Wexford in the Leinster final on 4 July.
Galway: Eanna Murphy; Ian O’Shea, Fintan Burke, Shane Bannon; Jack Fitzpatrick, Mark Hughes, Sean Loftus; Tomas Monaghan, Jack Grealish; Sean Bleahene (1-0), Brian Concannon (0-1), Cianan Fahy (1-2); Evan Niland (1-6, 0-3f), Jack Canning, Kevin Cooney (0-4).
Subs: Cian Salmon for Canning (h-t), Conor Caulfield for Grealish (53), Patrick Foley for Bleahene (60), Ronan Murphy for Niland (63), Andrew Greaney for Burke (65).
Kilkenny: Liam Dunphy; Michael Cody, Tommy Walsh, Ryan Bergin; Tom Kenny, Martin Keoghan, Shane Murphy; Edmond Delaney, Richie Leahy (0-3); Colum Prendiville (0-1), John Donnelly (1-2), Adrian Mullen (0-2); Bill Sheehan, Conor Hennessy (0-2), James Bergin (0-7, 0-5f, 0-1 '65').
Subs: Michael Carey for Ryan Bergin (h-t), Matt Kenny for Delaney (49), Sean Carey for James Bergin (54).
Referee: Alfie Devine (Westmeath)