Galway had to withstand a spirited rally from Kilkenny before they advanced to the Leinster U-20 hurling final after a 1-18 to 1-13 victory in the sunshine at O'Connor Park in Tullamore.

Kilkenny managed to reduce a 13-point interval gap to four points going into the closing stages but Galway, with goalkeeper Paddy Rabbitte producing a couple of fine saves, held on for victory and set up a Leinster final against Dublin next week.

Galway dominated the opening half and deservedly led by 1-13 to 0-03 at the interval, with Kilkenny struggling to contain their excellent passing game.

Donal O’Shea, son of Tipperary coach Eamon, led the way with a haul of 1-06 before the break with his excellently taken goal after 19 minutes pushing the Tribesmen 1-09 to 0-01 in front.

Diarmuid Kilcommins of Galway in action against Timmy Clifford of Kilkenny

Five of the Galway forwards scored from play in the opening half while the sixth, Oisin Flannery, had a hand in several scores including combining with Sean McDonagh to set O’Shea up for his goal.

Two early points from Diarmuid Kilcommins and O’Shea settled Galway before Peter McDonald got Kilkenny off the mark after four minutes.

But Kilkenny didn’t score again until Eoin Guilfoyle pointed a free from the right after 22 minutes to make it 1-10 to 0-02 and they would have been further adrift had goalkeeper Aidan Tallis not saved a ground effort from McDonagh.

Galway centre-back Sean Neary landed two points from distance while John Cooney, son of Galway legend Joe, struck for two superb points from the left.

Conor Kelly pulled back a point for Kilkenny before the break but O’Shea quickly cancelled this with his second point from play to lead by 13 at the interval.

Kilkenny, with senior manager Brian Cody watching from the stand, came fighting back after the restart with three points from placed balls by Guilfoyle, a fine effort from play by Conor Kelly and a long-range free from goalkeeper Tallis helped reduce the margin, but Galway responded with an excellent point over his shoulder from O’Shea on the right and two superb sidelines from McDonagh from the left.

Kilkenny's Jack Morrissey tries to get the pass away under pressure from Evan Duggan

Those scores left Galway leading by 1-16 to 0-08 after 39 minutes but another free from Guilfoyle was followed by a goal from Tomas Dunne when he finished a rebound after a penalty from Kelly was saved by Rabbitte.

Guilfoyle, captain Shane Staunton and sub Billy Drennan landed points to reduce the margin to five and when sub Paddy Commins responded for Galway, a tight finish was in prospect when two more efforts from Guilfoyle cut the gap to just four.

Rabbitte saved well from Guilfoyle and Dunne, and while Tallis denied Niall Collins at the other end, the Tribesmen sealed it when sub Conor Flaherty pointed after coming on to set up a repeat of the 2020 final which was played just last month when Dublin defeated Galway by 1-20 to 1-18.

Galway: Paddy Rabbitte; Eoin Lawless, Eoghan Geraghty, Christy Brennan; Shane Quirke, Sean Neary (0-02), Evan Duggan; Ian McGlynn, Jason Donoghue; Diarmuid Kilcommins (0-01), Sean McDonagh (0-03, 0-02 sidelines), John Cooney (0-02); Niall Collins (0-01), Donal O'Shea (1-07, 0-03f, 0-01 ’65), Oisin Flannery.

Subs: Alex Connaire for McGlynn (33), Paddy Commins (0-01) for Flannery (40), Conor Flaherty (0-01) for Duggan (46), Oisin Slevin for Cooney (53), Tiernan Killeen for McDonagh (55).

Kilkenny: Aidan Tallis (0-01f); David Fogarty, Jamie Young, Peter McDonald (0-01); Shane Staunton (0-01), Cathal Beirne, Padraig Dempsey; Cian Kenny (0-01), Padraic Moylan; Liam Moore, Conor Kelly (0-01), Jack Morrissey; Ciaran Brennan, Timmy Clifford, Eoin Guilfoyle (0-07, 0-05f, 0-01 ’65).

Subs: Paul Cody for Moore (19), Ian Byrne for Brennan (25), Tomas Dunne (1-00) for Dempsey (half-time), Billy Drennan (0-01) for Morrissey (37), George Murphy for Conor Kelly (55).

Referee: Patrick Murphy (Carlow).