Galway hold out for win in Nowlan Park thriller

Conor Whelan of Galway in possession. Picture: INPHO/Morgan Treacy

Galway 3-20 - 2-22 Kilkenny

Galway's held out for a slender one-point victory, to ensure four teams are still with a chance of making the Leinster SHC final, after a cracking battle with Kilkenny at Nowlan Park.

It was the first time that the Cats were beaten in the Championship on home soil since 1949.

No more than eight points separated the sides in this encounter – that after 50 minutes, after substitute Brian Concannon grabbed Galway's second goal to ensure a 2-19 to 1-14 score-line.

Kilkenny stormed back thanks in no small part to a TJ Reid to cut the gap to three points, but Brian Cody's charges were reduced to 14 men at this stage with a second yellow card for Paul Murphy.

Johnny Coen responded to complete Galway's hat-trick in the 60th minute, but found themselves a man in arrears after a straight red card for John Hanbury, following a high tackle.

Kilkenny pushed hard, despite a second yellow card for Ger Aylward, and although they cut the gap to the minimum, Galway held out for a hard earned win.

It was end to end stuff throughout, with the sides matching each other score-for-score in the opening minutes, before a Conor Whelan goal put the visitors in front by 1-3 to 0-3 after 11 minutes.

Galway built on Whelan's strike as scores from Jason Flynn and Daithi Burke saw them pull five points clear.

But Kilkenny weren't far away and the Cats bounced back with an unanswered 1-4, including Reid's first goal of the game which levelled the tie at 1-5 apiece after 15 minutes, before points from Richie Leahy and Alan Murphy saw Kilkenny open up a two-point lead for the first time.

Kilkenny's lead was short lived with the sides level for the fifth time after 26 minutes, and then Cathal Mannion and Reid swapped scores.

Galway finished the half strongly with Mannion and Concannon to the fore on the way to a 1-13 to 1-10 interval lead.

 Kilkenny's Ger Aylward with Aidan Harte of Galway Picture: INPHO/Morgan Treacy
Kilkenny's Ger Aylward with Aidan Harte of Galway Picture: INPHO/Morgan Treacy

The visitors opened up a five-point lead on three occasions inside 14 minutes of the restart, and pushed further in front after Concannon's flicked goal left them 2-19 to 1-14 ahead with 20 minutes of normal time remaining.

Kilkenny went in search of goals of their own, but a Colin Fennelly effort was deflected over for a point, before scores from Reid and Paddy Deegan cut the gap.

Glynn restored a six point lead, but Kilkenny continued to look dangerous.

Reid pressed hard for a goal, and found the net, after rounding the goalkeeper, but Galway quickly wiped out this score through Coen at the opposite end.

Hanbury saw red after a high tackle, and Kilkenny caused some testing times for the Galway defence later on, but the Tribesmen held out for victory.

Scorers for Galway: Cathal Mannion (1f) 0-8; Brian Concannon, Conor Whelan 1-2 each; Johnny Coen 1-1; Jason Flynn (2f) 0-3; Adrian Tuohey 0-2; David Burke, Jonathan Glynn 0-1 each.

Scorers for Kilkenny: TJ Reid (6fs, 165) 2-11; Billy Ryan 0-3;Richie Leahy, Bill Sheehan 0-2 each; Alan Murphy, Colin Fennelly, Paddy Deegan, Darren Brennan (f) 0-1 each.

GALWAY: Colm Callanan; Aidan Harte, Daithí Burke, John Hanbury; Padraic Mannion, Joseph Cooney, Gearoid McInerney; Seán Loftus, David Burke; Jonathan Glynn, Cathal Mannion, Adrian Tuohey; Conor Whelan, Jason Flynn, Brian Concannon.

Subs: Johnny Coen for Loftus (HT); Davy Glennon for Tuohey (59); Niall Burke for Concannon (64); Sean Linnane for Flynn (72).

KILKENNY: Darren Brennan; Tommy Walsh, Huw Lawlor, Paul Murphy; Conor Fogarty, Padraig Walsh, Paddy Deegan; Alan Murphy, Richie Leahy; Adrian Mullen, Billy Ryan, TJ Reid; Bill Sheehan, Colin Fennelly, Ger Aylward.

Subs: Richie Hogan for Mullen (32); Joey Holden for T Walsh (44); Jason Cleere for Murphy (50); John Donnelly for Sheehan (58).

REFEREE: Colm Lyons (Cork).

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