Galway minors buried under Cats’ late scoring avalanche

Kilkenny 4-18

Galway 1-12

Kevin Egan at O’Connor Park

IN 2023, Galway made their debut in the Leinster minor hurling championship, and it felt like everyone in the province laid out the red carpet for the new interlopers from the west, who cruised to their first ever provincial title at this grade.

Last Sunday evening in Tullamore it was a very different story, as Kilkenny took advantage of Galway’s errant shooting for the first 55 minutes before piling on the misery in the last five plus, knocking in 2-3 to ensure that the Tribesmen would feel suitably chastised in advance of this Saturday’s All-Ireland series clash with Waterford at Semple Stadium (2pm).

“I suppose the two goals there at the end and the run of points put a gloss on it, but they were well worth their win” was Kenneth Burke’s summary of the hour of action at O’Connor Park.

“We created chances but we just didn’t take them. We had a lot of wides that we should have turned into scores and that was the difference, they punished us every time” said the Galway manager.

And at the risk of further diminishing the value of the journalistic profession, to a considerable degree, the story of the game was summed up right there. With five minutes to play, Galway were six points behind (2-15 to 1-12) in a game where they finished up with six more wides (17 to Kilkenny’s 11) and Mikey Maher played the ball into Brian Callanan, who tried to force a goal where realistically, it wasn’t on.

Perhaps the Ardrahan player felt, with some justification, that his team needed a spark of life, since Cillian Roche’s goal was the only score they registered since the 35th minute. Either way, it felt like an air of resignation settled over the Galway team as soon as Callanan’s shot was blocked, and Kilkenny duly piled on the misery.

“We felt good (coming here)” said Burke.  “We had two good performances against Wexford and Dublin. Results in the group were up and down, everyone was beating everyone, so we felt hopeful. But Kilkenny are a good team, they’re well able to hurl and they were probably licking their wounds after getting beat twice, they probably felt that they had a point to prove. We competed well for most of it, but paid for our mistakes.”

Pictured: Galway’s Ciarán Leen is challenged by Kilkenny’s Anthony Clifford during the Leinster Minor Hurling semi-final in Tullamore on Sunday. Photo: Aoife Maher.

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