By Cian O’Connell
A game that will linger long in the memory supplied so many topics of conversation. TJ Reid’s enduring excellence; Cathal Mannion’s seven points from play; Jonathan Glynn’s effectiveness; Kilkenny’s refusal to wilt. Still when the long whistle was blasted Galway were in front by one and it was sufficient.
The opening period moved along at a good clip with Galway and Kilkenny both contributing to a hugely interesting and entertaining start.
Ultimately Galway were satisfied to depart at the break armed with a 1-13 to 1-10 advantage with Cathal Mannion’s influence considerable.
Mannion mined six sweet points from a variety of distances and angles for Galway, who thundered into the contest accumulating a 1-5 to 0-3 lead by the 13th minute.
Galway’s goal was struck in the 11th minute with Mannion supplying the pass which enabled Conor Whelan to burst clear prior to thumping a blistering effort into the back of the Kilkenny net.
Despite the setback there was much to admire in the resilient manner Kilkenny responded by stitching a 1-4 without reply sequence together.
Inevitably TJ Reid was prominent drilling an opportunistic 15th minute major punishing hesitancy in the Galway rearguard following a Colin Fennelly pass.
Mannion brought Galway back within the minimum and while a Darren Brennan free edged the Cats two ahead, Michael Donoghue’s outfit remained defiant.
In the last 10 minutes of the first half Galway, prompted by Mannion’s splendid wrists, outscored Kilkenny by seven points to two.
It was a positive stint for Galway, who registered 1-13 from 21 attempts compared to Kilkenny’s 1-10 from 17.
When the action recommenced it was similarly intriguing. Galway were in front by five in the 48th minute as Paul Murphy was sent off for a second bookable offence for a foul on Brian Concannon.
Mannion and Reid traded points prior to a Conncannon goal on 50 as the Killimordaly clubman book ended a move featuring Glynn, Whelan, and Flynn.
That had Galway eight up, but another Kilkenny was sparked. In the 59th minute Kilkenny had the gap down to three when the ever industrious Reid planted a goal.
Galway summoned a riposte with Flynn’s flick releasing substitute Johnny Coen, who made the Kilkenny net dance from an awkward angle.
Due to Kilkenny’s passion Galway didn’t score again. Eight minutes were left when John Hanbury was sent off for Galway, Reid subsequently clipped two frees.
Then Ger Aylward was dismissed for a second yellow card offence, but Kilkenny ploughed on unperturbed. Reid added a couple of frees and it was deep into stoppage time when Richie Leahy had the margin down to one.
Galway held on and next Saturday’s games at Parnell Park and Innovate Wexford Park will be monitored with interest.
Scorers for Galway: Cathal Mannion 0-8 (1f), Brian Concannon and Conor Whelan 1-2 each, Johnny Coen 1-1, Jason Flynn 0-3 (2fs), Adrian Tuohey 0-2, David Burke and Jonathan Glynn 0-1 each.
Scorers for Kilkenny: TJ Reid 2-11 (6fs, 165), Billy Ryan 0-3, Richie Leahy and Bill Sheehan 0-2 each, Alan Murphy, Colin Fennelly, Paddy Deegan, and Darren Brennan (f) 0-1 each.
GALWAY: Colm Callanan; Aidan Harte, Daithí Burke, John Hanbury; Padraic Mannion, Joseph Cooney, Gearoid McInerney; Seán Loftus, David Burke; Jonathan Glynn, Cathal Mannion, Adrian Tuohey; Conor Whelan, Jason Flynn, Brian Concannon.
Subs: Johnny Coen for Loftus (HT), Davey Glennon for Tuohey (59), Niall Burke for Concannon (64), Sean Linnane for Flynn (70+2).
KILKENNY: Darren Brennan; Tommy Walsh, Huw Lawlor, Paul Murphy; Conor Fogarty, Padraig Walsh, Paddy Deegan; Alan Murphy, Richie Leahy; Adrian Mullen, Billy Ryan, TJ Reid; Bill Sheehan, Colin Fennelly, Ger Aylward.
Subs: Richie Hogan for Mullen (32), Joey Holden for T Walsh (44), Jason Cleere for Murphy (50), John Donnelly for Sheehan (58).