Bord Gáis Energy Leinster U-21 Hurling Final
Galway 4-21, Wexford 2-26 (after extra-time)
In what will be remembered as one of the top games of 2018 and one of the great Leinster Under 21 Hurling Championship finals, Galway snatched an amazing victory over Wexford with almost the last puck of the ball at the end of extra-time.
The Westerners, playing in the provincial championship for the first time, fell two points behind with time almost up when man-of-the-match Rory O’Connor fired over for Wexford.
But in one final attack, full forward Sean Bleahane – who had been substituted and re-introduced – collected the sliotar and fired an unstoppable shot to the net as they triumphed by one point.
There had also been huge drama at the end of ‘normal’ time, when Galway led by three points but were stunned by a last-gasp goal from Ian Carthy, which forced extra-time.
It was a match full of talking points and turning points. Galway held a six point advantage in the opening half, with the opening goal netted by Thomas Monaghan, but Wexford came storming back and scored seven points in a row before the break, to take a two point lead as they returned to the dressing rooms.
In the second half, Wexford surged further ahead. Seamus Casey had a penalty saved, but soon raised a green flag as they led by five points.
But Galway hit back with goals from Kevin Cooney and Evan Niland and took the lead again – 3-13 to 1-17.
But after further points were traded, Carthy struck for a superb goal for Wexford to leave the final score 3-17 to 2-20.
The players deserved enormous credit for keeping up the pace in extra time. At half time, Wexford led by 2-24 to 3-18, but Galway had the last score of a pulsating evening, with Bleahene the hero.
Scorers for Galway: Evan Niland 1-7 (7f), Tomas Monaghan 1-2, Kevin Cooney 1-2, Cianan Fahy 0-5 (1’65, 1f), Sean Bleahene 1-0, Brian Concannon 0-2, Sean Loftus 0-1, Fintan Burke 0-1, Conor Caulfield 0-1
Scorers for Wexford: Seamus Casey 1-11 (9f), Rory O’Connor 0-7 (2f), Ian Carthy 1-0, Stephen O’Gorman 0-2, Rowan White 0-2, Joe O’Connor 0-2, Garry Molloy 0-1, Rory Higgins 0-1
GALWAY: Eanna Murphy; Ian O’Shea, Jack Fitzpatrick, Shane Bannon; Jack Grealish, Fintan Burke (c), Mark Hughes; Tomás Monaghan, Sean Loftus; Brian Concannon, Cian Salmon, Cianan Fahy; Evan Niland, Sean Bleahene, Kevin Cooney.
Subs: Patrick Foley for Salmon (half-time), Conor Caulfield for Hughes (41), Jack Canning for Bleahene (42), Ciaran Connor for Bannon (60), Ronan Murphy for Concannon (66), Michael Lynch for Monaghan (75), Sean Bleahene for Niland (77).