Kilkenny 1-19 Galway 1-10
Different opposition, same old story.
The evidence was there in the first half and the proof provided in the second, as Kilkenny swatted Galway aside to bag their 67th Leinster senior hurling title.
Like so many times in recent years, the championship was annexed with considerable ease. Seven points was scant reflection of Kilkenny’s dominance and were it not for a scarcely believable wide count of 17, they would have won pulling up.
Galway were dreadful though, it must be said, their striking terrible and provision of any sort of quality ball to their attackers even worse.
John McIntyre shuffled the attack from the start, with Canning lining out at centre-forward. He was a completely peripheral though and switched inside to full before moving to left corner for start of second half.
Blustery conditions clearly made shooting difficult, with even the peerless Henry Shefflin’s radar askew at times
However, the Ballyhale man was looking very sharp and his brilliantly-taken 13th minute goal from a rapidly decreasing angle sent Kilkenny on their way.
Damien Hayes did respond with a goal at the other end to leave Galway trailing by 1-8 to 1-5 at the break, but despite having the wind at their backs after the resumption, they never threatened to break the Cats’s stranglehold on the eastern province.
That was despite the fact that Aidan Harte had a point after 15 seconds. It took Kilkenny more than eight minutes to register their first score, from a Shefflin free but he added another almost immediately and provided an assist for TJ Reid, before firing the goal.
Harte poked a ground shot just wide prior to Reid’s score, after PJ Ryan had uncharacteristically spilled a ball.
The impressive Michael Rice added a brace of points for Kilkenny, either side of a Ger Farragher free, to stretch the gap to six, before Hayes poked the sliotar to the net to galvanise Galway.
The Tribesmen had their best period of the game in the final 15 minutes or so but failed to make any further dent in their deficit.
Despite the dominance of their defence and in particular Tony Óg Regan at centre-back, they could not attain any sort of platform after the resumption, and were destroyed at midfield.
Kilkenny gained complete control in this area and seven successive points from the 39th to the 53rd minute settled the issue.
Iarla Tannian was agonisingly close to snatching a goal after another error by Ryan during this period, but it was a rare opportunity as Shefflin, Reid, Richie Hogan, Aidan Fogarty and Richie Power kept the scoreboard ticking over.
Hogan’s 49th minute score in particular was a thing of beauty, as he twisted and turned with Shane Kavanagh for company around 35m from goal. Having caught the sliotar twice, he had to leave it on his hurley but with his back to goal, swung to his left before striking magnificently over.
Only Hayes looked in any way dangerous up front for Galway but he was brought out in an attempt to stem the tide around the middle. That left Canning, who was having a day to forget even if the service was poor, having to contend with John Dalton and Noel Hickey.
The Portumna man didn’t get his first score until the 67th minute and by that stage the game was well and truly up.
Kilkenny: PJ Ryan; J Dalton, N Hickey, J Tyrell; T Walsh, B Hogan, JJ Delaney; M Rice 0-2, M Fennelly; TJ Reid 0-3, E Brennan 0-1, E Larkin 0-1; M Comerford, R Power 0-3, H Shefflin 1-7 (0-4fs, 1 65). Sub: J Tennyson for Hogan (29); A Fogarty 0-1 for Comerford (43); R Hogan 0-1 for Brennan (48); J Mulhall for Power (67)
Galway: C Callanan; D Joyce, S Kavanagh, O Canning; D Barry, T Óg Regan, D Collins; G Farragher 0-4(fs), A Cullinane; A Callanan, J Canning 0-2, A Smith; A Harte 0-1, D Hayes 1-1, I Tannian 0-1. Sub: E Lynch 0-1 for Cullinane (26); C Donnellan 0-1 for Callanan (43); K Hynes 0-1 for Farragher (53); J Gantley for Smith (67)
Referee: M Wadding (Waterford).