Jackie Tyrrell (Kilkenny), Gearoid McInerney (Galway)
Jackie Tyrrell (Kilkenny), Gearoid McInerney (Galway)

Kilkenny 1-22       Galway 1-18

Without a shadow of a doubt, this group of Kilkenny players are the greatest ever assembled in the game. Their mastery is so complete that at this stage it no longer even seems impressive. The ball goes up. The ball goes over. The flag is raised. Repeat, repeat, repeat like the unrelenting march of time. Galway’s hopes were dampened by the injury to Canning. But the match couldn’t have started better. Galway pressed, they dominated the loose ball. Their forwards sprang to life will Kilkenny’s faltered. They piled on the scores, but also the wides; and it’s the wides that kill you.

Kilkenny’s talent is such that what they do no longer seems to have an effect on proceedings. They will win the ball. They will have their moment. The scoring metronome will start and they will never miss a single beat. Galway on the other hand had their chances. They had a lead, they had the chances to make it more severe, give the notion at half time that maybe, just maybe they could make it stick. Lax defending lead to a goal for Reid. He will not score many easier on this stage.

The goal kept the Cats in the game in truth. They were poor, their midfield had yet to adjust to the match and their forwards were manfully marshalled by the Galway defenders. They couldn’t match the hectic tempo that Galway were setting. The pace was too much for some of Galway’s forwards too. Wides flew out from score-able positions. Five by the time the first half drew to a close.

That is the basis of Kilkenny’s success. You will get wides, we will not. You will adapt to us, we will not. Galway’s dominance could not be sustained. Kilkenny’s was next to invisible. It seemed as if with every single possession they scored. Points from 50, 60 meters were lasered over with a precision that beggared belief. Galway could find no answer. The king watched on from the RTE studio enjoying the match as a spectator. The kingdom seems to be safe in his absence.     7

Words by Neil Ryan, Sports Editor