Late Canning free forces replay after thriller
Galway and Kilkenny will have to do it all again after Sunday’s All-Ireland SHC final ended in a draw for the first time since 1959 after as good a contest as you’re likely to see in front of a bumper crowd of 81,932 at GAA headquarters – the final scoreline reading 2-13 to 0-19.
Kilkenny haven’t lost a replay since going down to Offaly in the Leinster semi-final in 1985 but they’ll have to up their game if they are to deny Anthony Cunningham’s Galway their first All-Ireland success in 24 years with the date fixed for September 30.
The men from the west held a five point advantage at the break with Joe Canning’s superb goal after nine minutes the crucial score. After some great work from James Regan the Portumna star flashed the ball past David Herity in the Kilkenny goal and Galway led 1-1 to 0-1 and from there they never looked back, in the opening 35 minutes at least.
Henry Shefflin, who was looking to make history and win his ninth Celtic Cross, kept the Cats in the game with four first-half frees but Canning’s accuracy from placed balls – he slotted over five frees and helped himself to a point from play too – meant Galway went in with their tails up as Kilkenny looked nervous, if that’s possible for a team of their calibre.
The second-half had absolutely everything you could ask for and Richie Power’s pointed effort after 42 minutes brought Brian Cody’s charges to within a goal and it looked as if Kilkenny had finally woken up.
Eight minutes later Shefflin levelled things up but totally against the run of play Galway hit right back when Niall Burke latched on to a long ball before calmly dispatching it past Herity in the Kilkenny goal – 2-10 to 0-15 and game on.
Not long after Galway netminder James Skehill pulled off a remarkable save after Colin Fennelly bore down on goal, profiting from an exquisite assist from Shefflin but the man from Cappataggle was subsequently penalised for lying on the ball on the ground – a 20-yard free the outcome, Shefflin did the necessary and Kilkenny led by the bare minimum with 10 minutes to play.
Drama ensued seven minutes later when Kilkenny captain Eoin Larkin won a penalty after being hacked down by Skehill but Shefflin, strangely, tapped it over instead of going for the goal, a goal that would surely have won it for the Leinster kingpins.
More drama followed when Canning was unable to level things up with a straightforward free from 50 yards but he was to end up the hero, of sorts, when he split the posts after substitute Davy Glennon was fouled under the Hogan Stand, much to Cody’s frustration and Cunningham’s relief.
Earlier in the day a controversial injury-time free from Paul Winters earned underdogs Dublin a deserved draw with Tipperary in the curtain-raiser, the All-Ireland MHC final.
John McGrath scored 1-11 of Tipperary’s final tally of 2-13 while Dublin’s Cormac Costello was awarded the man-of-the-match award after a fine display in the middle of the park – the son of Dublin county board chief John helped himself to 1-3 with the capital’s hurler scoring 1-16 in all.by: Oli Skehan, September 9, 2012