Niland class helps Galway survive Cats rally
Galway 3-13 Kilkenny 1-17
Galway are through to meet Wexford in the Leinster U-21 hurling final as Evan Niland inspired them to a two-point win over a Kilkenny side who came with a late rally in Tullamore.
Points from James Bergin and Colum Prendiville had put Kilkenny 0-3 to 0-2 in front on 17 minutes but a minute later, Galway struck for goal with Niland firing them in front.
Adrian Mullen was starting to show well for the Kilkenny men but Galway were able to keep their noses in front with Niland once again to the fore as they went in leading 1-8 to 0-9 at the break.
Galway landed a massive score five minutes into the second half when Sean Bleahene fired home for their second goal to make it 2-9 to 0-9.
Kilkenny were finding it hard to tune in their radar as Galway continued to pull clear when Cianan Fahy drove home a rasper for their third goal on 47 minutes to leave it 3-12 to 0-12.
Despite being nine points down, Kilkenny roared back and inspired by Richie Leahy, who landed three points, they had it back to a five point game with just minutes to go.
An injury-time goal from Donnelly left Galway hanging on at the end by two points despite being nine up with 13 minutes to play.
Scorers: Galway - E Niland 1-6 (3f), C Fahy 1-2, K Cooney 0-4, S Bleahene 1-0, B Concannon 0-1. Kilkenny: J Bergin 0-7 (5f, 1 '65), J Donnelly 1-2, R Leahy 0-3, C Hennessy, A Mullen 0-2 each, C Prendiville 0-1.
GALWAY - E Murphy; I O'Shea, J Fitzpatrick, S Bannon; F Burke, M Hughes, J Grealish; S Loftus, T Monaghan; S Bleahene, K Cooney, C Fahy; J Canning, B Concannon, E Niland. Subs: C Salmon for J Canning (h-t), C Caulfield for J Grealish (53), P Foley for S Bleahene (59), R Murphy for E Niland (60), A Greaney for F Burke (60+4).
KILKENNY - L Dunphy; R Bergin, T Walsh, M Cody; T Kenny, M Keoghan, S Murphy; E Delaney, R Leahy; A Mullen, J Donnelly, C Prendiville; B Sheehan, C Hennessy, J Bergin. Subs: M Carey for R Bergin (h-t), M Kenny for E Delaney (49), S Carey for J Bergin (54).
Ref - A Devine (Westmeath)