Late point denies Kilkenny U21s title

Galway 1-15 Kilkenny 1-14

Kilkenny's three-in-a-row bid was ended in dramatic fashion at the Gaelic Grounds as a late point from Kerrill Wade handed Galway the Erin All-Ireland Under-21 hurling final.

Vincent Mullins' young Tribesmen made up for the county's senior disappointment last weekend as they cracked home the final four points, including two from 2004 minor Wade, to clinch Galway's first Under-21 crown since 1996.

Kilkenny had looked certain winners as they went into the final six minutes armed with a 1-14 to 1-11 lead. Eoin Larkin was their scorer-in-chief, notching an impressive tally of a goal and nine points.

Galway's second game of the championship began in poor fashion as a second-minute Richie Power flick-on allowed Larkin in for his goal. Cha Fitzpatrick tagged on a quick point for a 1-01 to no score lead, but Galway kept in touch through Aongus Callinan's 13th-minute.

It followed overs from captain Burke and Wade, who enjoyed a placed ball battle with Larkin throughout. Galway led 1-07 to 1-06 at the break - with Larkin scoring all bar one of Kilkenny's points.

A Wade '65 opened up a two-point gap for Mullins' men on the restart but the Cats, who whalloped Tipperary in last year's final, roared back into it with four points from Larkin, coupled with overs from Michael Fennelly and skipper Eoin Reid.

Those scores gave the champions a 1-12 to 1-09 buffer on 45 minutes. It got even better when Willie O'Dwyer sliced through to point two minutes later.

Adrian Finian's side maintained that three-point buffer up until the 56th-minute when David Collins, one of four seniors on the Galway team, landed a free.

The switching of Ger Mahon to centre back proved vital for Galway in the closing stages as with Kilkenny's half-forward line shored up, a point from from substitute Cathal Dervan and two injury-time scores from Wade - the first a short range free, and the second a nerveless shot from the left wing - ended the westerners' barren run of six final losses at Under-21 level.

Having won the minor title last weekend, Galway's hurling contingent could have a hat-trick of their own next Sunday. They contest the All-Ireland Masters (over-40s) final against Tipperary.

GALWAY: A Ryan; P Flynn, A Gaynor, K Briscoe; G Mahon, B Cullinane, A Garvey; B Lucas, D Collins; J Gantley, A Callinan, E Ryan; K Burke, N Healy, K Wade.

KILKENNY: D Fogarty; S Maher, J Tennyson, D Cody; J Dalton, PJ Delaney, C Hoyne; M Rice, M Fennelly; J Fitzpatrick, A Murphy, E Larkin; E Reid, R Power, W O’Dwyer.

Referee: John Sexton (Limerick)

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