Kilkenny overpower Galway to qualify for league decider
Kilkenny qualified for a fourth league final in a row with a 1-16 to 0-15 victory over Galway at the Gaelic Grounds in Limerick.
Brilliant performances in defence from Padraig Walsh, Brian Kennedy and Paul Murphy set the foundation for a a fine victory over a Galway side who were heavily dependant on the scoring exploits of Conor Cooney.
Both sides had two points on the board in the opening seven minutes with points from Any Smith and Conor Cooney cancelled out by Michael Fennelly and Henry Shefflin.
Galway were playing with the wind at their backs and that helped goalkeeper Colm Callanan to land a monster free to put the Tribesmen in front.
Niall Burke raised the white flag next for the Tribesmen who were struggling to find the target and the Cats struck three of the next four points, including a beautifully improvised effort from Shefflin, and the sides were level at five points apiece after 20 minutes.
Cathal Mannion put some wayward shooting behind him to put Galway ahead before Conor Cooney's goalbound shot was blocked out and he slotted the resulting 65.
Padraic Brehony missed a very good goal chance before the impressive Conor Cooney pointed four times in a row to stretch Galway's advantage to six.
It should have been a bigger lead but for nine disappointing first half wides.
TJ Reid pulled a point back before the break to cut Galway's lead to five.
Kilkenny began eroding Galway's lead from the restart and a brace from TJ Reid and a Colin Fennelly point but the deficit to two six minutes into the second period.
Another TJ Reid free and a stirring point from long range from Shefflin restored parity after 46 minutes and it awas looking ominous for Anthony Cunningham's men.
The hard-running Andy Smith and Padraig Walsh swapped points before Galway had a huge goal chance as David Burke hit Joe Canning's sideline against the crossbar.
Kilkenny counter-attacked and Colin Fennelly hit Kilkenny into the lead as the game cranked up a few gears.
The Cats gave themselves some breathing space when John Power fielded a long ball brilliantly before finishing to the net but a fantastic Conor Cooney point kept Galway within three.
Killian Buckley landed a huge score but it was cancelled out by Cooney again and David Burke fired over with four minutes remaining to put two in it.
Shefflin's fourth point of the game and a booming effort from Padraig Walshe.
Glynn was taken down for after a brilliant catch on the 14-yard line but Conor Conney's effort was brilliantly blocked off the line and the Cats held on for a four point win.