Brave saves key to Galway victory over Kilkenny to reach semi-final

By Kevin Egan at Bord na Móna O'Connor Park, Tullamore

Galway 3-13 Kilkenny 1-17: A stunning individual display from Evan Niland and a couple of brave saves from Eanna Murphy were key to Galway overcoming Kilkenny in the Leinster U-21 hurling championship semi-final at Bord na Móna Ó’Connor Park in Tullamore tonight.

On an evening when both sides were plagues with inaccuracy, Kilkenny shading the wides count by 14-13, Niland, Seán Bleahane and Cianan Fahy took their goal chances when they came up, leaving Kilkenny with just too much to do as they mounted a late comeback.

It was all going to plan for DJ Carey’s Kilkenny side in the first half as they played into the teeth of a fiercely strong breeze but still used the ball incredibly well, working it up the field and creating good chances, albeit missing most of them.

11 of the first 14 attempts for points between the two sides failed to find the target, but the game settled in the second quarter, ignited by Niland’s goal.

James Bergin’s frees as well as points from Conor Hennessy and Adrian Mullen helped Kilkenny go in at half time just two points adrift, 1-8 to 0-9, but the game turned immediately after half time when Kevin Cooney pointed and then Brian Concannon set up Seán Bleahane for a second Galway goal.

You can read the full match report in tomorrow's Irish Examiner Sport.

Galway scorers: E Niland 1-6 (0-3f), C Fahy 1-2, K Cooney 0-4, S Bleahane 1-0, B Concannon 0-1.

Kilkenny scorers: J Bergin 0-7 (0-5f, 0-1 ’65), J Donnelly 1-2, R Leahy 0-3, A Mullen & C Hennessy 0-2 each, C Prendiville 0-1 each

Galway: E Murphy; I O’Shea, J Fitzpatrick, S Bannon; F Burke, M Hughes, J Grealish; S Loftus, T Monaghan; S Blehane, K Cooney, C Fahy; J Canning, B Concannon, E Niland.

Subs: C Salmon for Canning (HT), C Caulfield for Grealish (53), P Foley for Bleahane (60), R Murphy for Niland (60+4), A Greaney for Burke (60+5)

Kilkenny: L Dunphy; R Bergin, T Walsh, M Cody; T Kenny, M Keoghan, S Murphy; E Delaney, R Leahy; A Mullen, J Donnelly, C Prendiville; B Sheehan, C Hennessy, J Bergin.

Subs: M Carey for R Bergin (HT), M Kenny for Delaney (49), S Carey for J Bergin (54)

Referee: Alfie Devine (Westmeath)

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