Snarling Cats roar into final

John Knox

Reporter:

John Knox

They may have squandered a big lead the previous week, but re-shaped and fiercely driven Kilkenny made no mistake second time round when they charged into the Leinster senior hurling final.

They may have squandered a big lead the previous week, but re-shaped and fiercely driven Kilkenny made no mistake second time round when they charged into the Leinster senior hurling final.

In the replay of the semi-final against passionate Galway in Tullamore yesterday evening, Brian Cody’s men led all the way home after one of the star performers, Padraig Walsh shot them in front in the 15th minute (1-5 to 1-4).

And unlike the previous week when they faded badly at the finish, Kilkenny finished on a high this time with T.J. Reid shooting a goal and Eoin Larkin a point in additional time to earn a convincing 3-19 to 1-17 win.

Now the scene has been set for a big double bill between Kilkenny and Dublin in Croke Park on Sunday, with the counties clashing in both finals, senior and minor. The action gets underway at 2pm.

The counties played something of a cat-and-mouse game before the match with neither unveiling their team until shortly before the throw-in. Kilkenny had something to reveal, with Brian Hogan back at No. 6 for the first time since the League semi-final and Jackie Tyrrell back in his regular role at corner-back the most significant changes.

The switches worked, and even after goalie Eoin Murphy retired with an injured arm after only seven minutes, the defence remained tight and solid throughout, with Tyrrell the star performer.

The game got off to an explosive start, with the teams swopping goals through T.J. Reid and Jason Flynn during the opening five minutes. The losers got on top for a while, and opened out a 1-4 to 1-1 lead.

However, the losers indiscipline cost them. They repeately conceded free in dangerous areas and T.J. Reid made them pay. By half-time Kilkenny had edged 1-11 to 1-9 ahead, with Reid accounting for 1-9, all the points from frees.

Kilkenny opened the second half with unanswered points from Reid (free), Aidan Fogarty, Padraig Walsh and Tommy Walsh to jump 1-15 to 1-9 clear and they kept Galway on a tight rein after that.

The Tribesmen had the arrears back to 1-12 to 1-15 after Joe Canning, in his one big play, drilled over a sideline cut from 40 metres in the 51st minute (1-15 to 1-12).

Within a minute the ball was in the back of the net at the other end, and Kilkenny were on their way into the final. Aidan Fogarty applied the finish from close range after Padraig Walsh had a fiercely driven effort blocked out by goalie, Colm Callanan.

The strong hurling Cats powered on from there, with Tyrrell the star man, but with Hogan, Cillian Buckley, T.J. Reid, Paul Murphy and Padraig Walsh all turning in terrific performances.

Galway now face Tipperary in the Qualifiers in Semple Stadium, Thurles on Saturday.

Scorers: Kilkenny - T.J. Reid (2-11); A. Fogartyn (1-1); P. Walsh (0-3); R. Hogan (0-2); T. Walsh, E. Larkin (0-1 each). Galway - C. Cooney (0-12); J. Flynn (1-1); I. Tannian, A. Smith, D. Burke, J. Canning (0-1 each).