Galway add to roll of honour as O'Shea points way
Galway 0-21 Kilkenny 0-14
Donal O'Shea fired ten points as Galway put All-Ireland minor titles back-to-back for the first time since 2005 in an exciting decider yesterday at Croke Park.
Galway were second best in the early exchanges, but powered to the win thanks to the efforts from the impressive Diarmuid Kilcommins, Dean Reilly and sub Seán McDonagh in the second-half.
Considering they had been so convincing in their three games to date it was a surprise to see Galway dominated in the opening stages. Only 20 seconds had elapsed when Cats wing-back Darragh Maher roamed forward for a point, while Conor Kelly's first of four first-half frees doubled their lead in the fourth minute.
Kilkenny's bright start was aided by their form under the Galway puck-out and Ciarán Brennan robbed a Patrick Rabbitte clearance to put Kilkenny 0-3 to 0-0 ahead, before he slotted a sideline cut in the sixth minute following another stray Galway restart.
Kilkenny should have been even further ahead. They stuck four wides in the opening five minutes - and eight by the interval - which allowed Galway to stay in the contest.
Galway finally got the ball into their dangerous full-forward line in the seventh minute and a pull on Niall Collins by Pádraig Dempsey resulted in a penalty, which flew over the bar from the stick of Donal O'Shea.
Coming into the final O'Shea had been Galway's top scorer with 1-27 and in the tenth minute he found a yard of space to fire his second point and he repeated the dose a minute later with a good point from distance.
Galway were now settled and further scores from Oisín Flannerys and an O'Shea free saw them take the lead by the 12thminute.
The worry for Kilkenny was that they found themselves in arrears after such dominance early on, but Cian Kenny pointed for them before Jack Buggy slotted a sideline and Kenny's frees saw them into a 0-9 to 0-7 lead five minutes from the break.
O'Shea was off target with a routine free for Galway, but he hit two scores before half-time, including a huge free from his own half in injury-time for his side to trai by 0-10 to 0-9. Kilkenny were fast out of the blocks on the restart when Kenny points after ten seconds, and despite a free moments later from Kelly, Galway soon took over.
Diarmuid Kilcommins landed a great score to split those two Kilkenny points, and Galway then kicked on with four points without reply - including Kilcommins' brilliant second from the sideline - to move 0-14 to 0-12 clear.
A Kelly free halted Galway momentarily but with his bench making an impact, JeffreyLynskey's side ran out convincing winners in the end.