ENDA Fahey struck a 63rd minute winner as Galway pipped Kilkenny at the death to advance to the All Ireland minor hurling final after a gripping last four clash at Croke Park on Sunday. It was a game the young Tribesmen led only once prior to Fahey’s late strike, but a win they thoroughly deserved, having played the better hurling for long periods.
It was a titanic struggle from start to finish. A torrential downpour prior to throw in put paid to any hopes of a free flowing game but what both sides served up was a full blooded encounter where no quarter was asked or given. It was a whole hearted display by Galway and one which filled each and every supporter in Croke Park with immense pride.
The concession of a second Kilkenny goal to Eoin Cody after 37 minutes following a mistake by the otherwise awesome Darren Morrissey appeared to have the Tribesmen in real trouble at 2-6 to 0-8, but Galway were not fazed in the slightest, and moments later, substitute Donal Mannion set off on a mesmerising solo run, leaving Kilkenny defenders clinging to his boot laces, eventually winning a penalty which Jack Canning duly dispatched.
Galway made a bright start with Canning gathering a ball in the right corner and nonchalantly stroking it over the bar after only 35 seconds. Canning has the same demeanour and almost ambling persona about him that his uncle Joe had back when he was a minor but while he may appear somewhat relaxed, Canning is clever beyond his years and uses his physique to great effect to win his own ball.
However, Galway were rocked on three minutes when Jim Ryan brilliantly fetched a cross field ball by Conor Heary. Ryan’s fetch left the Galway rearguard flat footed and the Rower Inistioge man coolly slotted past Darach Fahy to give the Cats an early buffer.
Canning replied with another impressive strike over his shoulder and this score signalled a period of back and forth action where the sides exchanged scores on a number of occasions. Conor Molloy and Canning added two sublime points for the Tribesmen but the Cats maintained control, replying each time via Adrian Mullen (free), James Brennan and Eoin Cody.
Conor Walsh added a free to reduce the gap to one but two scores by Eoin O’Shea and Niall Brassil put Kilkenny three ahead; 1-5 to 0-5. Overall though, Galway’s full back line were dealing well with the potentially lethal full forward line of Cody, Mullen and Seán Ryan. Darren Morrissey was deployed at full back to do a marking job on Mullen and the Sarsfields player gave a Man of the Match display, limiting Mullen to a point from play.
Full coverage in this week’s Connacht Tribune.