CHAMPIONS Kilkenny were there chasing to the last puck of the ball, but defeat was their lot in the All-Ireland final repeat when they visited Pearse Stadium to face Galway in the opening round of the Allianz National Hurling League yesterday.
The Cats were beaten by 3-11 to 0-17 at the end of a lively tie that was played in splendid sunshine and in front of a good size crowd that must have edged toward the 10,000 mark or so.
The concession of three goals during the opening half untimately undid the champions, who only threatened the Galway goal on one occasion. The gifted Joe Canning, who drifted out from full-forward early on, had a hand in all three of the winners goal.
The opening two were scored by Davy Glennon (13th minute) and Niall Healy (15th minute) after deliveries from way out the field by Canning to give the home side a confidence boosting 2-3 to 0-3 lead. The Cats eased back, and mainly through the point scoring of flying midfielder, Richie Power and Richie Hogan they had the arrears back to the minimum on the half hour when promising new arrival, Lester Ryan hit the target.
The score at that stage was 2-4 to 0-9 and Kilkenny, if not setting the scene alight, were ticking over nicely. However, in the 32nd minute they conceded again, this time after a wonderful cross field pass by Canning set Damiens Hayes on the way to goal No. 3.
At the break the winners led by 3-4 to 0-10.
The visitors were much tigher at the back after the turn, and for a time they put the opposition under real pressure. A point from a free by Richie Hogan reduced the deficit, but then they missed to handy enough frees that might have drawn them level.
Galway burst up the field in the 45th minute, and a lovely move involving Jonathan Glynn and Tadhg Haran ended with Damien Hayes shooting a pressure relieving point. Within seconds Joe Canning conveted a mighty free from all of 80 metres.
The difference shot up to 3-6 to 0-11.
Kilkenny chased all the way home after that. Four minutes from the end Richie Power threw over a point to leave three between the sides, but try as the visitors might they couldn’t find the goal that would have earned them a share of the spoils.
Scorers: Galway – Joe Canning (0-6, five frees, one 65); Damien Hayes, Davy Glennon (1-1 each); Niall Healy (1-0); Joseph Cooney, David Collins, Aidan Harte (0-1 each). Kilkenny – Richie Power (0-8, five frees, one 65); Richie Hogan (0-4, three frees); Aidan Fogarty (0-2); Tommy Walsh, Lester Ryan, Eoin Larkin (0-1 each).
Kilkenny – Eoin Murphy, Paul Murphy, J.J. Delaney, Jackie Tyrrell, Tommy Walsh, Kieran Joyce, Conor Fogarty, Lester Ryan, Richie Power, Colin Fennelly, Eoin Larkin, Matthew Ruth, Tomás Breen, Richie Hogan, Aidan Fogarty. Subs – Mark Kelly for Breen 48th min.
Unused subs – David Herity, Brian Hogan, Paddy Hogan, Mark Bergin, Willie Phelan, Joe Brennan, Tomás Keogh, Padraig Walsh.
Galway – Fergal Flannery, Johnny Coen, Kevin Hynes, Fergal Moore, Niall Donoghue, Joseph Cooney, David Collins, Iarla Tannian, Aidan Harte, Jonathan Glynn, Niall Burke, Davy Glennon, Niall Healy, Joe Canning, Damien Hayes. Subs – Tadhg Haran for Tannian 31st min; B. Flaherty for N. Healy 51st min; Padraig Brehony for N. Burke 66th min.
Referee – Diarmuid Kirwan (Cork).