Tribe called best; Shock of the GAA year as Galway down Kilkenny to win Leinster
Evanne Ni Chuilinn, Edmund Ignatius Rice, Phil Hogan, Ronan Tynan, your boys took one hell of a beating today.
We have long bemoaned the dominance of Kilkenny in Leinster. Bar the glorious year of 2004, Kilkenny have won every Leinster title this millennium. The addition of Galway to the mix was supposed to shake it up but it never did. Until today.
Kilkenny were 1/6 to win yet another Leinster title today but Anthony Cunningham’s Galway produced one of those performances that only Galway can. A stunning display saw them blitz the champs in the first half and while Brian Cody’s side battled back, they left themselves too much to do. Galway eventually won by ten, 2-21 to 2-11.
The die was cast inside two minutes when Joe Canning goaled for Galway. Incredibly Galway, thanks to Canning and Niall Burke, had 1-6 on the board before Henry Shefflin notched Kilkenny’s opener after 19 minutes, via a free.
A brilliant second goal by David Burke stretched Galway’s lead and the half-time score was a scarcely believable 2-12 to 0-4 to Galway, a lead amassed through tigerish defence, huge work rate and massive commitment by each and every man in maroon.
Galway notched the first score of the second half but the Cats began to get back into it. A Richie Hogan goal, after 43 minutes, saw the tide turn and even though David Burke and Canning both scored incredible solo points, a second Kilkenny goal, via Shefflin, saw the gap narrow once again.
But whenever Kilkenny got the lead down to single digits, which they did frequently in the second 35, someone, usually Canning, would win a free and keep the Cats in their place. It was the performance many of us have been waiting for from the Portumna man. Aside from Joe, who landed 1-10, lads like Damien Hayes, Cyril Donnellan, Tony Og Regan and countless others played the game of their lives.
Just over 22,000 were inside Croker for this epic contest and we are sure that many more will claim to be there in years to come. Every one of Galway’s players, and subs, deserve huge credit for pulling off the shock of the GAA year so far. Kilkenny are not gone of course, these Cats have at least two lives, but the hurling world tilted on its axis a bit today.
Congrats to Galway. Play like that for the rest of the summer and they could bring Liam MacCarthy across the Shannon just like they will bring Bob O'Keefe across it tonight.