The Galway u-21 hurlers were given a lesson in ruthless finishing last Saturday evening in Semple Stadium in the All-Ireland semi-final. Kilkenny blitzed them with three goals in the first half and went on to win by 4-16 to 2-15.
The Cats sunk their claws early and often into Galway and they had the green flag flying on three occasions by the 23rd minute. It was always going to be a major uphill climb for Galway to recover from those majors.
Galway team coach Mattie Kenny admitted the damage was done by those goals.
“We were hurling well in the opening half, but they got three goals where they opened us up a bit against the run of play, and I think that was the big difference in the game,” he said.
Galway did hit two fine goals from Davy Glennon and Joe Cooney, while a Tadgh Haran point left just a goal between them with seven minutes left.
However, Kilkenny tacked on four points to seal the win and leave them looking forward to a final showdown with Clare.
Mattie Kenny says the defeat has no relevance to the senior final.
"When we got the job back in October we picked a very young senior squad. We wanted to build a new Galway team so it was heavily based on last year’s u-21 team and last year’s All-Ireland winning minor team. But every team is different. Every game is different. If the u-21 game was played again next weekend, it would be different again.
"It’s all about what happens on the day and Kilkenny were very sharp last Saturday. We knew coming in they had six very good forwards and they got the goals at vital times. Those goals were the difference."
Galway: F Flannery; J Coen, Daithí Burke, B Flaherty; J Grealish, Darragh Burke, J Cooney (1-0 ); P Brehony, T Haran (0-3, two frees ); R Cummins (0-1 ), N Burke (0-8, five frees ), J Regan, C Cooney, J Glynn (0-2 ), D Glennon (1-1 ). Subs: D Fox for Brehony (19 mins ), P Huban for Grealish (22 mins ), P Killeen for Darragh Burke (half-time ), S Moloney for Cummins (45 mins ).
Kilkenny: D Walsh; J Corcoran, W Phelan, B Kennedy; L Harney, R Doyle, J Lyng; G Brennan, C Buckley (0-2 ); O Walsh (1-0 ), J Power (2-1, 1-0 pen ), K Kelly (0-6, four frees ); G Aylward (1-3 ), P Walsh (0-2 ), W Walsh (0-2 ). Subs : M Gaffney for P Walsh (59 mins ).