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Flawless Shefflin is star in Cats' Walsh win

Kilkenny delivered a firm statement of renewal in Freshford with a 1-24 to 0-15 win over Galway. They rode the conditions home in a storm-assisted second-half, turning a four-point half-time deficit into an almost desultory double-digit win.

For Henry Shefflin (inset), it represented his earliest inter-county start in nine years, yet he delivered a flawless free-taking exhibition as well as a good half-dozen gorgeously creative cameos that had the majority of a remarkable 1,500 attendance whooping loud approval.

Brian Cody is maybe too well-versed in the murky perils of January tea-leaves to read too much into this, but he did reflect: "He (Shefflin) was decent there today. He's in great shape. Essentially it's the first pre-season he has had in four years to be able to get out there and do it and give himself a chance.

"He's mad for it. His hurling the past few years has been very much more limited than he would have wanted it to be. So he's just mad to play."

For Galway, the second-half fade-out was a concern for Anthony Cunningham, whose wound was salted further by an intemperate, late pull from Darragh Burke that brought the young centre-back a straight red card and led to Eoin Larkin's departure on a stretcher.

Larkin was, subsequently, able to walk back to the dressing-room with his right arm in a sling.

SCORERS – Kilkenny: H Shefflin 0-13 (0-12 f), C Fennelly 1-3, JJ Farrell 0-3, A Fogarty, B Hogan, E Larkin, P Walsh, M Kelly 0-1 each.

Galway: N Healy 0-8 (0-6f and 1 '65'), N Burke, C Mannion 0-2 each, D Glennon, Darragh Burke, C Callanan 0-1 (f) each.

KILKENNY: E Murphy; S Prendergast, M Walsh, C Fogarty; J Holden, B Hogan, P Murphy; A Fogarty, P Phelan; H Shefflin, C Fennelly, E Larkin; JJ Farrell, M Kelly, L Ryan. Subs: T Breen for Ryan (45 mins), D Langton for Murphy (52 mins), P Walsh for A Fogarty (52 mins), T Keogh for Prendergast (59 mins).

GALWAY: C Callanan; F Moore, R Burke, J Coen; G McInerney, Darragh Burke, S óg Linnane; C Mannion, A Harte; D Glennon, J Glynn, N Burke; P Landers, C Cooney, N Healy. Subs: B Flaherty for Harte (55 mins), R Cummins for Glennon (55 mins), D Dolan for N Burke (65 mins).

Referee: B Gavin (Offaly).