The bulk of the side that defeated Tipperary in last September’s All-Ireland final saw some action yesterday and Brian Cody’s side were far too powerful.
Galway did manage to rally in the third quarter and came within three points at one stage. However, Kilkenny just stepped on the gas again and pulled away.
Eoin Larkin ended any notions of a Galway comeback when he finished to the net after Cillian Buckley dispossessed Galway goalkeeper James Skehill.
That ended the game as a contest; although Galway will take hope from having hauled themselves back into contention from a 1-11 to 0-6 deficit after 26 minutes.
In those opening minutes, Riche Power was untouchable for Kilkenny. Time and again he scythed through the heart of the Galway defence before shovelling off passes or picking off his own points and it was only when Fergal Moore was moved from full-back to mark Power that Galway began to get a foothold.
As early as the second minute Kilkenny had flashed past James Skehill, and Richie Hogan was sharp to the break off Tony Óg Regan to find the net.
Joe Canning showed glimpses of his top form and got Galway off the mark with a fourth-minute free, but eight points from Cody’s men by the 19th minute had them well in charge.
Five minutes from the break, Galway’s challenge re-ignited when Canning bounded through from centre-forward and did well to pick out James Regan whose low finish found the net to leave it 1-13 to 1-7 at half-time.
The 10 All-Ireland finalists on the Kilkenny side were added to by the introduction of Tommy Walsh, Michael Fennelly and Jackie Tyrrell at half-time, but instead of wilting in the face of the challenge, Galway thrived.
Canning hit a wonderful point from play to get them started and followed it up with two frees either side of Conor Cooney’s excellent point.
With Moore in inspired form, they continued to build momentum, and when Eanna Ryan was hauled down 21 metres out Canning had the chance to further eat into their advantage. However, after striking every free sweetly all day, he didn’t connect.
The Portumna ace did tag on a free soon after, but Larkin’s goal secured Kilkenny’s 18th Walsh Cup win.
Scorers for Kilkenny: R Power (0-11, 8fs, 1’65); R Hogan (1-3); E Larkin (1-1); J Mulhall (0-2); C Fennelly (0-2); P Hogan (0-1f)
Scorers for Galway: J Canning (0-9, 8fs); J Regan (1-1); D Burke (0-2); B Burke (0-1); C Cooney (0-1)
KILKENNY: D Herity; N Hickey, JJ Delaney, P Murphy; P Hogan, B Hogan, C Fogarty; L Ryan, M Rice; J Mulhall, R Power, E Larkin; C Fennelly, R Hogan, A Fogarty.
Subs: M Fennelly for Rice, h-t; J Tyrrell for Murphy, h-t; T Walsh for Ryan, h-t; K Buckley for C Fennelly, 54; W Phelan for Hickey, 66.
GALWAY: J Skehill; D Connolly, F Moore, K Hynes; B Flaherty, T Og Regan, P Huban; J Coen, D Burke; E Ryan, I Tannian, J Canning; D Hayes, C Cooney, J Regan.
Subs: M Lydon for Huban, 31; N Donohue for Flaherty, 31; B Burke for Hayes, h-t; J Cooney for Coen, 48; T Haran for Ryan, 63.
Referee: James McGrath (Westmeath).