Defeats are always hard to take, but even worse when the victors are the second best side
On Sunday in Croke Park, it is widely acknowledged the Galway minors were the better team. They outplayed Killkenny, displayed huge character and skill to overcome the Cats’ two-goal lead at the break, and picked off points to fire themselves ahead with just 13 minutes left on the clock. But ultimately they were undone by a 58th minute goal from substitute Danny Purcell. It ended their dreams of a fourth minor title this decade to add to those won in 2000, 2004, and 2005.
In the immediate aftermath Galway manager Mattie Murphy was at a loss to explain the defeat.
"We have a performance out there that was out of the top drawer and to come away with nothing for it is heartbreaking," he said.
"I’ve gone down, but I was never as proud a group of players than I am of those lads, and I’m not going to point the finger of blame at any of them.”
Murphy said he “hadn’t a clue” how Galway had lost, except that Kilkenny had luck on their side to claim their 19th All Ireland minor crown.
"Fair play to Kilkenny, they got the rub of the green which is always important in All-Ireland finals, but they’ll know tomorrow they’ve been in a match."
Having held the Cats scoreless for a 26-minute spell in the second half, Danny Purcell put paid to any hopes of David Burke raising the Irish Press Cup.
The Mooncoin forward stole victory with a goal and a point in the closing four minutes of this game – the Cats’ sum total in the second half.
His goal came out of nothing. Referee Cathal McAllister threw in a hop ball close to the Galway square, but Kilkenny snaffled it and from a hand-pass Purcell made no mistake.
Kilkenny had Galway’s defence under pressure from the throw-in and settled after a Joe Brennan pointed free.
However Bernard Burke points from play propelled Galway into a 0-2 to 0-1 lead by the ninth minute, and a trio of points from Oranmore-Maree half-forward Niall Burke extended the lead to 0-5 to 0-2 lead by the end of the opening quarter.
Yet Kilkenny used their limited possession to good effect, and a brace of goals in the second quarter propelled them to a 2-5 to 0-6 interval lead.
Brennan’s 17th minute goal came following a speculative shot from the wing 24 metres out and with Galway’s defence exposed, Brennan sent in a dipping shot which bounced over the line.
Bernard Burke put Galway back in front after good work by Niall Donoghue on the half-back line for the Tribesmen, but Kilkenny finished strongly thanks to a Cathal Kenny sideline, a Brennan free, a Breen’s goal and a Peter McCarthy score, giving them a five-point advantage at the interval.
However Galway responded brilliantly in the second half. Scores from midfield duo David Burke (3) and Domhnaill Fox, along with a Niall Burke point, ensured the sides were level at 0-11 to 2-5 by the 44th minute.
Niall Burke and Richard Cummins added Galway points, and although Cummins and 39th minute substitute John Cannon interlinked well for a tremendous goal chance in the 55th minute, Cannon’s effort flicked by the side netting – a glorious chance to seal victory spurned.
No one could have foreseen Kilkenny’s late comeback, as Purcell’s killer goal and a point followed and in the end Galway were the vanquished.
Kilkenny: E Murphy; D Healy, M Walsh, A Cuddihy; M Moloney, R Doyle, C Fogarty; C Kenny , J Gannon; J Brennan (1-03), W Walsh, R Hickey; P McCarthy, T Breen (capt)), M Gaffney. Substitutes: M Dwyer for Gaffney (38 mins), D Purcell for Gannon (54), C Maher for Hickey (57).
Galway: F Flannery; D Connolly, R Burke, G O'Halloran; N Donoghue, D Cooney, R Foy; D Burke (capt), D Fox (0-01); A Dolan, N Quinn, N Burke; R Cummins, B Burke, D Glennon. Substitutes: B Flaherty for Foy (half-time), M Dolphin for Glennon (39), J Cannon for Quinn (40), L Madden for Fox (53).
Referee: Cathal McAllister (Cork).