Galway and Kilkenny battle to bruising stalemate and replay will take place outside Leinster
GALWAY 0-18 KILKENNY 0-18
Galway and Kilkenny must do it all again after a monster point from TJ Reid in injury-time scured a draw for Brian Cody's men against the reigning Leinster and All-Ireland champions.
A game of huge intensity had the Croke Park attendance of 40,703 on the edge of their seats as Kilkenny put up a massive battle to reclaim the provincial crown. They trailed by two points at the end of normal time, but closing scores from Enda Morrissey and that spectacular equaliser from Reid secured the Cats a replay.
Croke Park is unavailable next weekend with Michael Buble playing at GAA headquarters and the Leinster Council have announced that the game will take place in Thurles next Sunday.
It was clear from the outset that Kilkenny were determined to acquiesce as limply as they had when the teams met in the round robin stage in Salthill. With a strong wind gusting behind them from the Hill-end, they roared into the game from first whistle, Galway unable to get any purchase from a two-man inside line of Niall Burke and Conor Whelan.
Padraig Walsh was especially prominent claiming almost anything that came dropping towards the Kilkenny 'square', yet he had stirring support either side of him too in Paul Murphy and Paddy Deegan.
Six of Kilkenny's starting fifteen were playing their first Championship game in Croke Park, yet there was little evidence of nerves, the men in stripes clearly intent upon rattling the reigning Leinster and All-Ireland champions.
Kilkenny & Galway will have to do it all again after a draw in the Leinster SHC Final. Watch the full-time highlights here on GAANOW. pic.twitter.com/e9093RfRsW— The GAA (@officialgaa) July 1, 2018
They looked a group perhaps riled by Galway captain, David Burke's, suggestion during the week that Kilkenny now "feared" playing them. Just fifteen minutes in, Burke fluffed a pick-up on the Cusack Stand side and was promptly bullocked over the line by Conor Fogarty.
That was the tenor of business from Brian Cody's men who had registered a paltry return of just two points from play in that Salthill game. Here Championship debutant, Billy Ryan, already had that tally to himself by the half-hour, Kilkenny going hip to hip with the supposedly superior physicality of the champions.
True, Waterford might have had a goal on 20 minutes but Cathal Mannion was almost complacent in attempting a first-time connection from just left of Eoin Murphy's goal when it would have seemed wiser to take the ball to hand.
Ger Aylward had his moments at the other end, first firing a weak 28th minute shot to the Canal-end goal that a falling James Skehill was able to save, then eschewing a pass to Richie Leahy on the stroke of half-time that might well have resulted in a Kilkenny goal.
The sides were level at 0-7 apiece at that stage but a TJ Reid free from his own half sent the Cats in at half-time a point to the good and probably rueing their accumulation of seven wides to Galway's three.
There were obviously strong words exchanged in the champions' dressing-room at half-time because they resumed with a different intensity and only a fine Eoin Murphy save denied Whelan a 36th minute goal.
With defensive swarming at both ends, goal opportunities should have been at a premium, yet Skehill had to save brilliantly from a 51st minute Reid rasper.
That was the tenor of it, both teams swinging windmills, neither quite landing a knockout punch.
SCORERS: Galway - J Canning 0-6 (0-4 frees, 0-1 '65'), N Burke 0-4, C Mannion 0-3, J Cooney and C Whelan 0-2 each, C Cooney 0-1.
Kilkenny - TJ Reid 0-10 (0-8 frees), B Ryan 0-2, E Morrissey, J Maher, J Donnelly, W Walsh and G Aylward 0-1 each. E Murphy 0-1 free.
GALWAY: J Skehill, A Tuohy, Daith Burke, J Hanbury, P Mannion, G McInerney, A Harte, J Coen, David Burke, J Cooney, J Canning, N Burke, C Whelan, C Cooney, C Mannion. Subs - J Glynn for C Cooney (57 mins), B Concannon for C Mannion (65 mins), J Flynn for Whelan (70 mins).
KILKENNY: E Murphy, P Murphy, P Walsh, P Deegan, J Holden, C Buckley, E Morrissey, C Fogarty, J Maher, M Keoghan, TJ Reid, R Leahy, B Ryan, W Walsh, G Aylward. Subs - L Blanchfield for Keoghan (48 mins), J Donnelly for Leahy (57 mins), R Hogan for Aylward (58 mins), C Fennelly for Ryan (63 mins).
Referee - F Horgan (Tipperary).