Kilkenny captain Meighan Farrell lifts the Littlewoods Division 1 National League trophy. Picture: Inpho
Kilkenny are National League champions for 2021 after they edged a titanic struggle against Galway in Croke Park this evening.
A trio points in stoppage time from Steffi Fitzgerald, Denise Gaule and Mary O'Connell eventually gave Kilkenny the breathing space they needed to run out three point winners over a gallant Galway side.
Kilkenny were chasing shadows for much of the opening half and in truth were lucky to only be three points in arrears with Aoife Norris producing a point blank save to deny Galway sharpshooter Carrie Nolan.
Whatever Kilkenny boss Brian Dowling said to his team in the dressing rooms had the desired effect though as the Cats reeled off 1-5 without reply in a devastating opening ten minutes of the second period.
Aoife Doyle got a wonderful individual goal while O'Connell, Gaule and Michaela Kenneally got in for points.
Galway trailed by five at that stage but they didn't drop the heads and helped by a 40th minute Niamh Kilkenny goal they were right back in the game.
Kilkenny originally seemed to stem the Galway momentum but it didn't last long and if it wasn't for Norris pulling off another great save four minutes from time the result may have been very different.
Galway were still on level terms entering the four minutes of added time but not for the first time this year the side in black and amber found a way to win.
Quite the boost for Kilkenny as they head into championship next month.
Kilkenny- Denise Gaule (0-6, 0-5fs), Aoife Doyle (1-2), Katie Nolan (0-3), Mary O'Connell (0-3), Grace Walsh (0-1), Michaela Kenneally (0-1), Niamh Deely (0-1), Steffi Fitzgerald (0-1).
Galway- Carrie Dolan (0-10, 0-8fs), Niamh Kilkenny (1-1), Aoife Donohue (0-2), Niamh McGrath (0-1), Siobhan McGrath (0-1).
Kilkenny: Aoife Norris; Michelle Teehan, Collette Dormer, Davina Tobin, Kellyann Doyle, Meighan Farrell, Aoife Prendergast, Niamh Deely, Grace Walsh, Denise Gaule, Mary O'Connell, Miriam Walsh, Micheala Kenneally, Katie Nolan, Aoife Doyle.
Subs: Laura Murphy for Prendergast 36 mins, Steffi Fitzgerald for M.Walsh 47 mins, Katie Power for Kenneally 50 mins, Miriam Bambrick for K.Doyle 58 mins.
Galway: Sarah Healy; Shauna Healy, Sarah Dervan, Siobhan Gardiner, Roisin Black, Emma Helebert, Tara Kenny, Aoife Donohue, Niamh Kilkenny, Niamh McGrath, Catherine Finnerty, Sarah Spellman, Carrie Dolan, Siobhan McGrath, Ailish O'Reilly.
Subs: Dervla Higgins for Kenny 36 mins, Catriona Cormican for Helebert 41 mins, Ann Marie Starr for Finnerty 45 mins, Niamh Hanniffy for O'Reilly 53 mins.
Referee: Justin Heffernan (Wexford)
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