The second instalment of the Kilkenny versus Galway trilogy of games saw the Cats comfortably ease their way into the under-21 All-Ireland hurling final in impressive fashion.
Kilkenny started nervously and for the opening 10 minutes Galway looked impressive. Their senior panellists were starting to control the game in crucial areas of the pitch and it looked like Kilkenny was in for a tough evening in Thurles.
Then in the 12th minute the game swung decisively in Kilkenny’s favour with a brilliant individual goal from Ollie Walsh. But it was poor defending by the Westerners to allow the Dicksboro player waltz through a stagnant defence.
Almost immediately Walsh set up a point for Paraic Walsh and thereafter Kilkenny took a firm grip on the game.
The Cats continued its dominance with another goal, this time from John Power following a penetrating run by Richie Doyle. At this stage the only Galway player to pose any challenge to Kilkenny was Jonathan Glynn, who was winning a lot of aerial possession.
Kilkenny’s dominance was further emphasised with a third goal from Ger Aylward. The Glenmore player caused all sorts of problems for the Westerners over the 60 minutes.
In the closing 20 minutes of the first half Kilkenny made intelligent use of the ball and controlled the midfield sector where Cillian Buckley excelled.
As the game headed towards the interval three pointed frees from Galway left Kilkenny in no doubt that the game was far from over.
A second John Power goal from a penalty following a foul on Ger Aylward was the worst possible start to the second half for Galway.
A comfortable Kilkenny win was now on the cards but the play from the Cats got very ragged midway through the half and Galway capitalised.
Two Galway goals followed by a point left just three points between the sides and suddenly Kilkenny was under the cosh. Both goals will disappoint the Kilkenny defence, particularly the ease with which the Galway players got through for the scores.
The Kilkenny response to both goals could not have been more impressive as a series of points saw the side comfortably ahead by seven at the finish.
Aside from a couple of lapses in concentration this was a hugely impressive performance from Kilkenny. They will now start as favourites against Clare who strolled to a huge win against Antrim.
All-Ireland fever has started in Kilkenny and with three teams through to their respective finals there is already a great buzz around the county.
It will be a costly few weeks for the Kilkenny County Board, so I hope all Kilkenny fans will support the big quiz night which takes place on this coming Thursday at a venue near you.