Minor to remember the difference as Galway march on a contrasting road
Kilkenny 2-15 Galway 3-16
Rusty but fresh or tired but sharp. Which one do you take?
The Electric Ireland All-Ireland minor preliminary quarter final between Kilkenny and Galway took place as the curtain raiser in Croke Park on Sunday and both sides came to GAA HQ having travelled very different roads.
The Cats' journey was in full flight, seven games played, a good few wins under their belt and a couple of defeats to learn from too. Galway on the other hand, were only beginning theirs'. This was their first, yes their first competitive game of the year in comparison. You read the previous line correctly too, that this is Kilkenny's seventh game of the year.
This provincial system is wrong. A round-robin must come into the minor too.
In the end, it was the rusty but fresh combo that won out. Galway certainly didn't start out like a rusty team. They were much the better team in the first half. Both corner forwards, the tasty Gavin Lee and the powerful Greg Thomas were lighting the place up and within a couple of minutes they had 1-2 between them.
The Cats looked in bother. Galway were a taller, stronger and more physical team. In defence, Ian McGlynn and Enda Collins were towering over their markers. In attack, that man Thomas the Ballygar bomber was unmarkable. Kilkenny's Tristan Roche is your typical minor. About 5 ft 10 in and relatively skinny. Thomas had inches to spare on him, going up and going across.
He's not just a big man though. He has a magnet for a hand and a golden pair of wrists and by half-time he had two of the finest goals to his name and two points to boot.
His first goal was the pick of the lot.
— GAA JOE (@GAA__JOE) July 14, 2019
With Sean McDonagh doing wreck outside him in the half forward line, this game looked over.
After 29 minutes of play, Kilkenny were down by 12 points. 2-10 to 0-4 read the scoreline. It always takes a brave man to write off Kilkenny but you wouldn't need to be too courageous here. There couldn't possibly be a way back.
With Kilkenny, there's always a way. Half back Peter McDonald showed how it's done just before the break with a long-ranger before Drennan tapped over a free.
10? Still a tall order.
But like they often do, they made light work of it in the second half. An interval substitute would make all the difference. Ian Byrne from Glenmore came on and played like a man who should have been starting.
After some tremendous work from the lively Timmy Clifford, Byrne was in for a goal within two minutes. The goalie saved that one but he hammered home the rebound like a man with a point to prove.
Five down and it was game on. Fellow substitute Zach Bay Hammond was causing trouble with his direct running while Pierce Blanchfield and the lively pair of Colman O'Sullivan and Liam Moore roared into it.
It was all Kilkenny in the second half. Byrne hammered in a second goal a couple of minutes later and before Galway knew where they were, it was a draw game.
They showed great composure to close it out though, Sean McDonagh of Mountbellew Moylough showing his pure and utter class with a brilliant goal.
Kilkenny huffed and puffed but they couldn't level it up. Galway march on, this system must be revised soon.
Aidan Tallis (Lisdowney), Billy Reid (Glenmore), .William Halpin (Slieverue), Tristan Roche (St Martin’s), Peter McDonald (0-1, Thomastown), Padraic Moylan (Dicksboro), James Aylward (Mooncoin), Andy Hickey (Dunnamaggin), Denis Walsh (Dunnamaggin), Pierce Blanchfield (0-1, Graignamanagh), Colman O’Sullivan (0-1, Tullogher-Rosbercon), Liam Moore (0-3, Dicksboro), Billy Drennan (0-4f, Galmoy), Timmy Clifford (Dicksboro 0-2), Jack Doyle (Windgap)
Ian Byrne (2-2, Glenmore) for Andy Hickey, Zach Bay Hammond for Denis Walsh (Both HT) Braedon Wheler (0-1) for Jack Doyle (59), Seanán Doyle for Billy Drennan (60)
Michael Egan (Cappataggle), Eanna Davern (Moycullen), Eoin Lawless (Athenry), Adam Nolan (Kilnadeema-Leitrim), Enda Collins (Carnmore), Ian McGlynn, Captain, (Kilconieron), Christy Brennan (Clarinbridge), Liam Leen (0-1, Clarinbridge), Oisin Slevin (Ardrahan), Colm Cunningham (Moycullen), Sean McDonagh (1-7, 0-3f Mountbellew Moylough), Tiernan Killeen (Loughrea, 0-1), Gavin Lee (0-2, Clarinbridge), Shane Morgan (Loughrea), Greg Thomas (2-2, Ballygar)
Alex Connairre (0-2) for Liam Leen (40), Ryan Howley for Enda Collins (54), Colm Mollloy for Tiernan Killeen (58)