Galway are the 2020 All-Ireland Minor Hurling champions after a hard-fought victory against Kilkenny in O’Moore Park on Saturday.
Galway took the lead after less than a minute when Liam Collins took advantage of Kilkenny ill-discipline to point from the opening free of the game. Collins pointed from another free five metres in from the Kilkenny’65 on the right-hand side of the pitch to double an early lead for the Tribesmen. The corner forward got his first from play when he got on to a loose ball and split the posts from 45 metres out. The scores kept coming for Collins and Galway as he dispatched of his third free to move Galway into a 0-04 to 0-00 lead after five minutes.
Galway continued to maintain control of the game when Colm Molloy (2) and Collins pointed from play to increase the margin to seven points. There was respite for Kilkenny when Billy Drennan got their first point of the day from a free and added another two from dead balls soon after. However, the All-Ireland champions sustained their dominance over Richie Mulrooney’s men as Collins sent a ’65 sailing over the bar to make it 0-08 to 0-03.
Both sides exchanged a flurry of scores from play midway through the first half as Ruben Davitt and Liam Leen pointed for Galway while Billy Drennan, Denis Walsh and midfielder Killian Doyle all opened their accounts from play to leave four between the teams at half time, Galway 0-10 to 0-06 Kilkenny.
Kilkenny started their comeback attempt straight from the outset of the second half. Two points from half-back Joe Fitzpatrick and a score from Dicksboro’s Harry Shine reduced the gap to two points. Galway sharp-shooter Collins added to his tally with a free before two Drennan frees left the scoreboard reading Galway 0-12 to 0-11 Kilkenny. Substitute Diarmuid Davoren and full forward Greg Thomas edged Galway further ahead but a key moment in the game came when referee Sean Stack awarded a penalty to Kilkenny. Galmoy’s Billy Drennan struck to the net and drew the game level Galway 0-14 to 1-11 Kilkenny with eight minutes left on the clock.
Kilkenny took the lead for the first time in the game soon after the goal when Cathal Byrne pointed from distance, but Collins equalised for Galway after retrieving possession from the puck out and striking over the bar. The game ebbed and flowed as the final whistle loomed and a Collins goal in injury time after several points from both sides saw Galway over the line on a scoreline of 1-17 to 1-14.
Galway are four-in-a-row All-Ireland champions. Kilkenny can hold their heads high for putting in a passionate and defiant performance.