Wednesday 23 May 2018

Galway wilt as Cats go in for the kill

Hogan's introduction inspires crushing second half performance by Kilkenny

Kilkenny’s Richie Hogan. PIcs: Sportsfile
Kilkenny’s Richie Hogan. PIcs: Sportsfile
Referee Fergal Hogan looks on as Kilkenny’s TJ Reid, Lester Ryan, Colin Fennelly, Walter Walsh and Eoin Larkin battle for possession with Galway’s Aidan Harte, David Burke, Conor Cooney, Gearóid McInerney, Dáithí Burke and Pádraic Mannion. Pic: Sportsfile

In their last three Championship matches, Kilkenny have trailed Galway by three points (twice) and led Dublin by the bare minimum.

They've won the subsequent second halves by a combined 28 points.

That's a relatively insignificant stat, given they've broken more records than a bulldozer in a vintage music shop but this Kilkenny second-half squeeze has become quite the compelling spectacle from this merely 'functional' team (copyright: Ger Loughnane).

"It's in your make-up, I suppose. Your mentality," mused Brian Cody after his 15th Leinster title in 18 years was won at Galway's expense as his team - in a sort of hurling pastiche of last year's All-Ireland final - turned a three point deficit into a handsome win, in this case seven points.

"And also, it's your belief in each other. And trust in each other.

"And the realisation that you don't have to do anything fantastic.

"The fella behind you or the fella in front of you is going to be doing his utmost to be there for you as well.


"You don't have to do heroics, or anything like that," he added. "It's a case of keeping going."

Which is what his team did very well yesterday in Croke Park in that first half.

Galway had played at a forceful pelt.

They were easily four-from-six in their forwards v defenders individual battle tale of the tape and their half-backs, in particular, soaked up break after break.


Kilkenny had several players of whom the inverse to Loughnane's aforementioned jibe was true.

Michael Fennelly, Lester Ryan, Kieran Joyce, Colin Fennelly and Eoin Larkin were, against their own exalted standards, dysfunctional in that half.

Yet for all that, Galway had just a three-point lead at the break.

"The mood was good," confirmed their understated manager, Micheál Donoghue.

"We knew the first few minutes were going to be crucial, Kilkenny are renowned for coming out (and going well) and fair play to them, I think the introduction of Richie Hogan was massive."

It was, in hindsight, the most lavish substitution available. Hogan, who hasn't even trained fully with Kilkenny since April with a broken hand, came in and scored five points, a quintet of extraordinary quality and variation.

"There was no intention to do anything in particular, really. I wouldn't be going with preordained things, 'we're going to spring him here, spring him there'," Cody explained of his non-existent Hogan introduction strategy.

"He's a player who is a very, very skilfull player. We put Richie in and he played very, very well.

"But it was a question of not any individual. It was a question of all the players right throughout the field."

Until then, Galway's energy was admirable.

They competed zealously for every ball and in Conor Whelan and Cathal Mannion, they possessed dialled-in, ambitious forwards.

In the second half, only Conor Cooney could be said to have thrived against a redoubled Kilkenny effort.

Conor Fogarty was immense for the Cats, a centralised hub of intelligent ball-use.


Michael Fennelly began to ram-raid Galway's defence and Jonjo Farrell added to his newly-established reputation as Kilkenny's appointed sniper of 2016 to bag 1-4.

His goal, after 46 minutes and an insightful pass from Fogarty, started the downpour and really, it never truly eased up until Fergal Horgan blew for full-time.

"We were three points down at half-time," Cody surmised afterwards.

"But eight, nine, 10 points even can be whittled down very quickly in hurling.

"So it's never a case of 'how much is in it?'," he added.

"It's a case of 'how are we going?' and 'what are we going to do about it'?" said the Kilkenny manager.

leinster shc final: kilkenny 1-26 galway 0-22

SCORERS - Kilkenny: TJ Reid 0-10 (7f, 1 '65), JJ Farrell 1-4, R Hogan 0-5, C Fogarty 0-3, W Walsh 0-2, M Fennelly, J Power 0-1 each. Galway: J Canning 0-6 (6f), C Mannion 0-5, C Whelan, C Cooney 0-3 each, J Cooney 0-2, D Glennon, C Donnellan, A Smith 0-1 each.

KILKENNY: E Murphy 8; P Murphy 8, J Holden 7, R Lennon 7; P Walsh 7, K Joyce 6, C Buckley 6; C Fogarty 9, M Fennelly 7; W Walsh 7, C Fennelly 5, L Ryan 6; JJ Farrell 8, TJ Reid 8, E Larkin 5. Subs: R Hogan 9 for Larkin (h-t), J Power 7 for C Fennelly (h-t).

GALWAY: C Callanan 7; J Hanbury 6, Daithí Burke 7, J Coen 6; A Harte 7, P Mannion 7, G McInerney 6; David Burke 6, D Glennon 7; N Burke 5, J Cooney 7, C Cooney 7; C Whelan 7, J Canning 6, C Mannion 8. Subs: C Donnellan 7 for J Cooney (45), F Moore 6 for Coen (54), J Flynn 6 for N Burke (57), A Smith 6 for Glennon (59), P Killeen 6 for Hanbury (66).

WIDES - Kilkenny: 7 (4 + 3). Galway: 5 (2 + 3).

BOOKED - Kilkenny: (Joyce 34, Hogan 68). Galway: (Whelan 48, C Mannion 65).

REF: F Hogan (Tipperary).


MAN OF THE MATCH: Conor Fogarty (Kilkenny).


leinster shc final

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