A tale of two halves: how Kilkenny recovered from Galway blitz

Ian O’Riordan looks at five key turning points in the Cats’ All-Ireland final win

Joe Canning’s uncharacteristic late miss denied Galway the chance to get back into the All-Ireland final against Kilkenny. Photograph: Inpho

Joe Canning’s uncharacteristic late miss denied Galway the chance to get back into the All-Ireland final against Kilkenny. Photograph: Inpho

 

1. Galway setting the mood and tempo early on: particularly in the attack, their forwards seeming to switch positions with each passage of play. Joe Canning moves between the full and half forward line, and for a while Joey Holden looks a little spooked. Then, on 10 minutes, Cyril Donnellan briefly moves into full forward, and fires over an excellent point, their fourth of the game, putting them 0-4 to 0-2 in front. Even at this early stage, the scores are coming far easier for Galway, and although Eoin Larkin gets one back for Kilkenny, a Canning free immediately after keeps them two points clear.

2. Kilkenny’s first proper assault on the Galway goal: and typically enough comes from humble beginnings. Richie Hogan wins the puck out, and lays the ball out to Walter Walsh, who has both the size and tenacity to hold off Galway full back John Hanbury. Walsh then passes out to TJ Reid, ideally positioned yes, but positioning his shot with sniper accuracy, low and left, well out of reach of Colm Callanan. It gives Kilkenny the shot of confidence they need, and perhaps more tellingly, Reid too. They go ahead 1-3 to 0-5.

3. Galway closing out the first half with greater fire and intent: on 32 minutes, Johnny Coen is lucky to stay on the field after a high-tackling Colin Fennelly, in full view of everyone in Croke Park. Referee James Owens only flashes yellow, when red would have been entirely justified. TJ Reid does convert the resulting free, although Galway hit back with a soaring point from Joe Canning, leaving them three points clear at the break, and unquestionably in the better position. They might well have been further up, hitting six first half wides too.

4. Kilkenny suddenly outscoring Galway 0-6 to 0-1: first, they square it up again on 43 minutes, TJ Reid hitting the first of two 65s with pinpoint accuracy. David Collins, crucially, gets one back for Galway in between, but then three more in succession from Kilkenny. A perfectly neat pick up and point from Richie Hogan, another 65 for Reid, and then the cool-as-you-like Eoin Larkin, and with that Kilkenny pull two points clear, a small step on the scoreboard, but a giant leap in where the game is now heading. Again, Galway get one back, before Kilkenny hit another three without reply.

5. Into the last 10 minutes, and the game still there to be won or lost: Kilkenny 1-17, Galway 0-17. Joe Canning is taken down clumsily by Padraig Walsh, wins the free, and although looking a little shaken, opts to take it himself. It’s almost straight in front of the posts, around 50m out, and Canning sends it inexplicably wide. His reaction says it all. It could have been a two-point game, with eight minutes to play. Instead, Kilkenny immediately score at the other end, through Colin Fennelly, and it’s a four-point game. The rest is cosmetic, and Kilkenny win by that four-point margin.

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