Richie Hogan could scarcely have dreamed of a more satisfying return to Croke Park.

Sent off in his last game here, a humbling All-Ireland final defeat to Tipperary, the four-time All-Star was summoned from the bench with Kilkenny in trouble in the Leinster final.

He made an immediate impact, combining slickly with Martin Keoghan for a goal chance the young centre-forward angled just past the post. 

As Galway stretched five points clear things were looking grim but then Hogan produced a moment of magic, stealing the ball from Daithi Burke's grasp in mid-air, outfoxing goalkeeper Éanna Murphy and tapping home into an empty net.

TJ Reid added a second within a minute and Hogan went on to finish with 1-02 - narrowly sending another goal chance over - as Kilkenny marched to their 72nd Leinster title and his eighth.

Speaking afterwards, manager Brian Cody insisted that the memory of last year's dismissal hadn't played any part in the forward's performance and suggested instead that the 32-year-old had benefited from an enforced rest period after years of persistent back troubles.

"Richie Hogan has been hurling for years at the top level and every day he goes out, he goes out to perform," said Cody, who himself collected an incredible 16th Leinster medal as manager.

"Of course it was disappointing last year but you can't carry that with you forever either. He went out to perform as well as he possibly could for the team and he did that.

"He got a break, the body got a break. He doesn't hold back when he's injured. He won't just lie down, even for a serious enough injury.

"He'll keep going. He's a fighter. So he hasn't minded the body from the point of view of sitting back when he's injured, 'I can't play'. He's not like that. He always wants to play and definitely he's moving freely.

"Richie was very influential, there's no doubt about, that when he came in."

Galway boss Shane O'Neill leaves the pitch

Galway manager Shane O'Neill admitted that Hogan had changed the game when he came on - "Richie brought something different to the full-forward line to what was actually happening" - and was understandably disappointed to have seen his team's five-point lead evaporate. 

"It was just that small spell really with the two very quick goals and that's something we’ll have to look at," he said.

"Kilkenny are Kilkenny and will never be gone. We were five up and then those two quick goals but they always have that danger. 

"The reaction was fantastic from the lads then after going a point down, I think we went two points up after that. After that then it was kind of tit-for-tat and we were unfortunate with a few attempts. 

"We're just disappointed that we didn’t come out with a victory today." 

Galway must lick their wounds and move on quickly as they will be out again next weekend, in a quarter-final against Tipperary or Clare.

Cody, who said midfielder Richie Leahy had been withdrawn late on due to a hamstring injury, was relieved to have a fortnight's rest before an All-Ireland semi-final.

"That's for sure," he said. "The alternative is to go and play the quarter-final next weekend and that's very, very tough going obviously.

"It does give the bodies a chance to recover. We can recover and get a couple of meaningful sessions in as well."