Following 80 minutes of relentless action, the outcome eventually went the Black and Amber way, the National League champions emerging with two points to spare after a second epic All-Ireland camogie semi-final.
The dust had barely settled when Kilkenny and Galway went toe-to-toe. The Cats should have put the game to bed after netting first half goals from Shelly Farrell and Michelle Quilty.
But Galway stayed alive thanks to Ailish O’Reilly’s injury time goal, one of the many twists and turns in a thrilling encounter.
An extra-time sideline cut from Ann Dalton that went all the way to the net, ultimately decided the matter.
“We were a little bit disappointed we didn’t see it out in normal time,” said Downey.
“But, we told the girls when it went into extra time to think about all the work they had done since October. Every one of them gave their heart out there,
“We are in the final now. We know Cork are an absolutely brilliant team. We are going to have to up our performance. They have some savage players.”
Kilkenny led 2-7 to 0-9 at the short whistle, thanks mainly to an energetic and lightning fast attack. Prolific free-taker Denise Gaule, Ann Dalton and Jacqui Frisby immense too.
However, Galway outscored them 1-7 to 0-6 in the second half with Niamh McGrath hitting eight points overall.
Dalton’s sideline cut broke the deadlock in the first period of extra-time. Kilkenny are desperately seeking an O’Duffy Cup breakthrough – their last victory was in 1994 when Downey was the winning captain.
D Gaule (0-9, 0-8 frees), M Quilty (1-2), S Farrell and A Dalton (sl) (1-0 each), M Farrell (0-2), A Farrell and M Walsh (0-1 each).
N McGrath (0-8, 0-7 frees, 0-1 45m), A O’Reilly (1-3), O McGrath and A Donoghue (0-2 each), M Dunne, R Hennelly (45m), N Kilkenny and N Coen (0-1 each).
E Kavanagh; J Frisby, D Tobin, C Dormer; C Phelan, E Keane, M Farrell; A Farrell, A Dalton; D Gaule, J A Malone, K Power; M Quilty (Capt), M Walsh, S Farrell.
G Walsh for J A Malone (43), K Doyle for M Walsh (59 bs), K Doyle for K Power (60).
S Earner; T Kenny, S Dervan, H Cooney; C McGrath, R Hennelly, L Ryan; A M Starr, N Kilkenny (Capt); A Donoghue, N McGrath, S Healy; O McGrath, A O’Reilly, N Coen.
M Dunne for N Coen (42), S Coen for L Ryan (59), J Gill for O McGrath (60), O McGrath for S Healy (65 inj), A Callanan for A M Starr (78).
Ray Kelly (Kildare).