Three goal haul sees Galway claim three minor titles in a row

Galway 3-14

Kilkenny 0-12

It was a day to remember for the latest generation of Galway minor hurlers who claimed the county's third All Ireland title in a row at that grade, and the 13th overall.

With a devastating display in Croke Park on Sunday, star marksman Seán McDonagh did the damage on the scoreboard, finishing with a tally of 2-8 over the hour. But this was far from a one man show. It was a performance built on solid foundations from the back all the way through to the attack as they took on Kilkenny in every area of the field and came out on top in each battle ground.

Tiernan Killeen kickstarted the scoring inside the opening minute with a fine point that had been worked all the way down the field from the full back line before he dispatched the sliotar over the bar.

Kilkenny reeled off the next two scores, from a Billy Drennan free and a Colm O'Sullivan point from play, but the next score was to be the first dagger Galway struck into the heart of their opponents' challenge.

Ruben Davitt kept his eye on a long ball in from Alex Connaire that broke from Shane Morgan into his path, and he made no mistake vollying the sliotar to the back of the net from close range in the ninth minute.

Galway, although taking control, were failing to convert their chances on the scoreboard, pulling a number of efforts wide of the target.

With 20 minutes gone they led 1-4 to 0-4 on the scoreboard with McDonagh tapping over three points, two from frees, with O'Sullivan and Timmy Clifford responding for Kilkenny.

Kilkenny were not going away on the scoreboard despite Galway's dominance in general play, and they were only two behind after Drennan replied with three points after McDonagh and Connaire scored.

The turning point came just before the break when Greg Thomas was fouled after he claimed a high ball into the danger area and Galway were awarded a penalty. Up stepped McDonagh who made no mistake to give Galway a deserved five-point lead at the break, 2-6 to 0-7.

Galway exerted their superiority in the opening 10 minutes of the second half, landing five points without reply to stretch their lead to 10. McDonagh landed two of those points from frees with another coming from a 65, while Thomas and Davitt also got in on the act to put Galway up 2-11 to 0-7.

Lingering doubts extinquished

Kilkenny found a little momentum over the next few minutes, outscoring Galway 0-3 to 0-1, but with 12 minutes left on the clock, any lingering doubts were put to bed with a goal worthy of any All Ireland final.

Greg Thomas chased the sliotar into space out on the right wing and he flicked the ball up among a mass of bodies before sending an unexpected handpass to the free McDonagh, who hammered it home to cap a game-winning performance.

From then on Galway saw out the game with consummate elegance over the remaining few minutes to claim an historic third minor title on the bounce for the county.

Galway: Michael Egan; Adam Nolan, Eoin Lawless, Christy Brennan; Enda Collins, Ian McGlynn, John Cooney; Liam Leen, Alex Connaire (0-01 ); Tiernan Killeen (0-02 ), Sean McDonagh (2-08, 0-06f, 1-00 pen, 0-01 65 ), Colm Cunningham; Ruben Davitt (1-02 ), Shane Morgan, Greg Thomas (0-01 ).

Subs: Gavin Lee for Cuningham 46, Sean O'Hanlon for Morgan 52, Eanna Davoren for Collins 55, Colm Molloy for Davitt 60, Niall Glynn for Thomas 62.

Kilkenny: Aidan Tallis; Billy Reid, William Halpin, Tristan Roche; Peter McDonald (0-01 ), Padraic Moylan, Zach Bay Hammond; Liam Moore (0-01 ), James Aylward; Pierce Blanchfield, Timmy Clifford (0-01 ), Colman O'Sullivan (0-02 ); Billy Drennan (0-06, 0-05f ), Jack Doyle, Ian Byrne.

Subs: Denis Walsh for Blanchfield 38, Andy Hickey for Aylward 45, Braedon Wheeler (0-01 ) for Byrne 52, Aran Murphy for Drennan 59.

Referee: Patrick Murphy (Carlow ).

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