Hogans put Kilkenny on the brink of clean sweep
The Kilkenny production line continues to roll out star young hurlers and several more came to light when they defeated reigning champions Galway at Semple Stadium in Thurles.
This victory means that Kilkenny now have teams in the four All-Ireland finals -- minor, U-21, intermediate and senior -- with every chance of sweeping the board.
Kilkenny played with a lot of style and class in overcoming a dogged Galway side who were possibly not at their best because of a lack of match practice and the fact that star full-forward, Joe Canning, was nursing a groin strain. Though he still made his mark with 0-8, three coming from brilliantly executed sideline cuts.
"Joe was struggling a bit with the injury but that is no excuse," said Galway manager Vincent Mullins. "We have had good days and bad days and unfortunately that was one of the bad days.
"For long periods Kilkenny were throwing it away with a number of uncharacteristic missed chances but we could not capitalise on it and the best team won."
Kilkenny simply had too many better players, not least in the Hogan brothers -- Paddy at centre-back and 19-year-old Richie at corner-forward. Between them they broke Galway hearts, Paddy with his immaculate display in the number six jersey while Richie ended up with a total of 2-5, all but a point coming from play.
They had a third young star in Colin Fennelly at wing-forward from where he scored four excellent points, while TJ Reid showed them the road to victory with three early points.
The game was still up for grabs with four minutes remaining, with Kilkenny holding on to a two-point lead, but in the twinkling of an eye it was all over when Reid played a lovely pass to Richie Hogan and he duly dispatched the ball to the back of James Skehill's net.
It was a victory which clearly pleased manager Michael Walsh.
"We came up here as underdogs but there are still aspects of our play that we can improve upon, not least our shooting," he said.
"I thought our defence were brilliant and while Richie missed a couple of frees he is normally very accurate and did well in the end but Galway made it difficult for us and we needed some big performances for the victory."
Kilkenny looked to be in a commanding position when they led 0-7 to 0-2 after 21 minutes but then Galway hit back with 1-2 to be level at the break, the goal coming from Conor Kavanagh after Canning played a sweet pass to Kevin Keehan.
The sides were level four times early in the second half before Paddy Hogan played a pass for his brother to get the lead again.
Richie Hogan found the net for the first goal and again it was made from Paddy's wonderfully hit long centre. Then Fennelly missed an open goal, driving wide from 10 yards, one of 16 wides they hit in total.
Scorers -- Kilkenny: R Hogan 2-5 (1f), C Fennelly 0-4, TJ Reid 0-3, P Hogan, J Mulhall 0-1 each. Galway: J Canning 0-8 (4f, 3sc), C Kavanagh 1-1, E Forde 0-2, S Glynn, J Greene 0-1 each.
Kilkenny -- C McGrath; P Murphy, K Joyce, E O'Shea; N Prendergast, P Hogan, L Ryan; J Dowling, N Walsh; C Fennelly, N Cleere, TJ Reid; M Ruth, J Mulhall, R Hogan. Subs: JJ Farrell for Cleere (40), J Maher for Dowling (46).
Galway -- J Skehill; M McMahon, C O'Donovan, P Callanan; A Keary, K Kilkenny, Al Leech; E Forde, A Harte; S Glynn, K Keehan, J Greene; C Kavanagh, J Canning, E Concannon. Subs: S Og Linnane for Concannon (26), S Howley for Harte (45), N Lynch for Keehan (57).
Ref -- M Wadding (Waterford).