Thanks to a last-gasp goal from Dicksboro’s Cillian Buckley, Kilkenny are the Leinster senior hurling champions for 2023, leaving Galway’s hearts broken in the process.
In a game that will go down in history, it turned out to be a classic between the rivals. On Sunday, former team-mates Derek Lyng and Henry Shefflin went head-to-head as managers in the decider. Galway started the game well and quickly built up a 0-6 to 0-1 lead within seven minutes. The following seven minutes was Kilkenny’s turn to turn the table, Mossy Keoghan getting in for the first goal of the game after some great work from David Blanchfield to set up the Tullaroan star. in that period Kilkenny outscored Galway 1-5 to 0-0. Galway came back into the game through Conor Whelan, the Kinvarra star leveled things up after seventeen minutes.
Mossey Keoghan had to be substituted in the first half with an injury and Walter Walsh came on to replace him, the athletic forward didn’t touch a ball when he came on till the 24th minute when he got a brilliant individual goal. He picked up possession on the forty-five metre line and went on a darting run before rifling an unstoppable shot low past Éanna Murphy. The goal leveled things up again at 2-9 to 1-12.
The teams retired to the changing rooms all square 2-9 to 1-13, it had been a fantastic game of hurling with skill, passion, mistakes, and plenty of drama. Even the experts couldn’t call the winner of this game as it was so tight.
The second half started at a frantic pace, each side trading points early on, Kilkenny would raise their third green flag of the day in the 34th minute when All-Star Mikey Butler found himself in an advanced position after teamwork between himself and David Blanchfield. Who says backs don’t score? It was Mikey’s first-ever championship goal and one he’ll always remember.
By the 43rd minute, Kilkenny had a sizeable lead when they were eight points clear of the tribesmen 3-17 to 1-15. As we’ve already seen in the championship big leads don’t mean much and the comeback started for Galway when substitute Jason Flynn got in for their second goal of the afternoon, eight points became five, and then four and three…. and so on till the 68th minute when Galway went a point ahead.
Trailing by two points with 40 seconds left on the clock, Kilkenny found themselves in the corner of the pitch underneath the shadow of the Cusack Stand, Galway failed to clear the ball, John Donnelly had possession, over his should he hit the ball across into the Galway square, it was met by Padraic Mannion who lost his stick in a tackle, he kicked the ball clear but only into the hand of Cillian Buckley. The Dicksboro man ran six meters and sidestepped TJ Brennan before hitting the ball into the bottom corner of the goal to win the game for the Cats and break Galway’s hearts, he had never scored a goal in the championship until that moment, and what a moment it was.
It was Kilkenny’s fourth Leinster title in a row