Kilkenny are the 2020 Leinster Senior Hurling Championship winners as they edged out a heavily-fancied Galway side in Croke Park on Saturday.
Both teams failed to pull away from each other early on despite Kilkenny having the advantage of a strong breeze on their side. T.J. Reid kept Kilkenny within touching distance of the Tribesmen early on, striking six frees to add to an early Padraig Walsh point from play, levelling the game at 0-07 to 0-07 as referee Fergal Horgan signalled for the first half water break.
Two frees from sharpshooter Joe Canning alongside two points from play from midfielder Johnny Coen pushed Galway into a three-point lead. Kilkenny’s forwards finally became involved in the game as half-time approached, with points from young stars Eoin Cody, Martin Keoghan and John Donnelly drawing Kilkenny level at 0-12 to 0-12. Galway weren’t finished for the half though with a superb point from the left-hand side-line giving Galway a one-point advantage at half-time.
Kilkenny started the second half strongly with an early Reid free drawing Brian Cody’s side level and extending the Ballyhale Shamrocks players individual tally to nine points. Two Joe Canning points either side of a score from Kilkenny midfielder Conor Browne meant Shane O’Neill’s side remained in the lead by one point. Canning showed his full array of talent during the middle of the second-half with 3 points, one each from a side-line ball, a ’65 and another free pushed Galway into their biggest lead of the game, 0-14 to 0-18. Kilkenny had a guilt-edged chance to get the first goal of the game right before the second water break when Martin Keoghan fired wide from a shot on the 14-metre line.
The two sides traded scores after the water break with points from play from Brian Concannon and Liam Blanchfield keeping the gap at four points. An incredible goal from Kilkenny substitute Richie Hogan dragged Kilkenny back into the game and another goal immediately after from T.J. Reid put Kilkenny one ahead on the hour mark. Galway responded with two points from Portumna clubman Canning shoving Galway ahead by one point. Galway scored their third unanswered point after the Reid goal when midfielder David Burke struck over from the middle of the pitch. Reid scored his own point from play to reduce Galway’s lead, 2-16 to 0-23.
Kilkenny struggled to kick on after the goals with another point from substitute and 2017 All-Ireland wining captain David Burke. Kilkenny never gave up however, with Richie Hogan and Conor Browne scoring a point each to level the game for the eight time with three minutes of normal time left to play. Martin Keoghan and Danesfort man Hogan hit over from play to put Kilkenny back into the lead on a score-line of 2-20 to 0-24 as the four minutes of additional time began. Galway failed to register another score as Kilkenny hung on to claim a famous victory.