Defending champions, Kilkenny registered their second win in the Allianz National Hurling League and kept on track for a place in the quarter-finals when they scored a good 2-16 to 1-16 win over Galway in Nowlan Park yesterday, writes John Knox.
The Cats were in control throughout, and the wonder was that Galway, who fielded without their Portumna players who are involved in the All-Ireland club final on St Patrick’s Day, finished so close in the end.
Kilkenny, who are using different permutations in a bid to unearth new talent, will be hoping to keep the good run going when they travel to Parnell Park on Saturday to play Leinster champions, Dublin, who are sure to be a tough proposition.
The Tribesmen ran into a storm from the moment the ball was thrown-in. The game was no more than 80 seconds old when ever improving attacker, Mark Kelly had the ball in the net. With a rush of points from an inspired Geoff Brennan in midfield, Richie Hogan and Walter Walsh the Cats galloped 1-6 to 0-2 clear after a mere 11 minutes.
The home side continued to produce smart, free flowing hurling, and although Galway created a number of goal chances, they failed to take them. At half-time Kilkenny led by 2-11 to 0-8, their second goal being added by Hogan just before the whistle for the rest.
Galway were cast in the role of chasers throughout the second half. When Richie Hogan clipped over a point for the Cats in the 52nd minute the divide was a large 2-14 to 0-11. Minutes later Jonjo Farrell had the ball in the losers net, but a harsh call led to the score being disallowed when it was ruled the Thomastown man had been in the square.
The losers gained momentum for a big finish when free taker, Conor Cooney, blasted a penalty to the net in the 58th minute following a foul on the impressive, Gearoid McInerney (2-15 to 1-12). The visitors out-scored the home team in the race to the finish, but they never looked like winning the game.
Scorers: Kilkenny - Richie Hogan (1-3); T.J. Reid (0-6, four frees); Walter Walsh, Geoff Brennan (0-3 each); Mark Kelly (1-0); Jonjo Farrell (0-1). Galway - Conor Cooney (1-7, goal penalty, six points frees); Niall Healy (0-4); Gearoid McInerney (0-3); Iarla Tannian, Padraig Brehony (0-1 each).