Galway had built up considerable momentum early on with three points in a row, two from Joe Canning and another from Cyril Donnellan. But Kilkenny struck at a crucial juncture.
Luck played its part as Richie Hogan’s puck over his shoulder from around the ‘45’ deflected off a Galway stick and into the open ground between the left corner back and full-back spots. The alarm bells only rang when Walter Walsh bundled past John Hanbury.
Within seconds TJ Reid had the ball in the net for the game’s only goal.
Johnny Coen had a hairy last five minutes to the first-half. First he inadvertently deflected a point over his own bar and then he wrapped his arm and hurley around the neck area of the onrushing Colin Fennelly as the Kilkenny forward zeroed in on goal.
He will have been relieved to see just yellow for his transgression but there was a sense that Galway paid for the let-off after the break with manager Anthony Cunningham not disagreeing with the notion that his team may have been hard done by in that second period.
For all Galway’s travails, only four points separated the sides with five minutes of normal time to play. With the Connacht side’s forwards kept under lock and key it was always going to be critical to avail of any half-chance.
One duly arrived and it came to Conor Whelan. A breaking ball fell his way behind Kilkenny’s last man. He scurried forward but only managed to dribble a weak shot past the Kilkenny post. Everything after that had the air of inevitability about it.
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