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Buckley shocks Tribe with late winner

Shane Stapleton was at Croke Park to see Cillian Buckley hit a late winning goal for Kilkenny against Galway in the Leinster final

Shane Stapleton was at Croke Park to see Cillian Buckley hit a late winning goal for Kilkenny against Galway in the Leinster final.

Kilkenny 4-21 Galway 2-26 Leinster SHC final
Cillian Buckley bounced with joy as he looked up to the Hogan Stand a couple of minutes after saving Kilkenny’s bacon.

Galway had come from eight points behind to lead by two with time up, before a mad scramble ended in Tribal agony.

After a long battle for the ball, John Donnelly centred it from the corner where Padraic Mannion was forced to kick it clear after losing his stick.

It went into the hands of Buckley and the veteran defender drove through the D, checked, and hit a tame shot past unsighted goalkeeper Eanna Murphy.

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“There’s plenty of hurling in Leinster,” said captain Eoin Cody during his acceptance speed, and no doubt The Cats now have an All-Ireland title in their sights.

Do they have the quality? Perhaps; perhaps not. What they did need was progress directly to an All-Ireland semi-final because the injuries have really begun to mount up.

Adrian Mullen is out for the season, Mikey Carey and Richie Reid were unable to feature today, while Mossy Keoghan went off with a hamstring issue after scoring an early goal.

Having to turn around and face the winner of Tipperary v Offaly in two weeks’ time might have been a bridge too far.

Ten years on from a seismic qualifier clash with the Premier at Nowlan Park, Henry Shefflin will expect to see the old enemy when next he sends Galway out to battle.

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In their most recent outings against Dublin and now Kilkenny, they have fallen well behind, but showed the nerve to fight back each time. Today, they were cruelly caught at the death.

Considering the timid fadeout produced by his side in the same situation one year ago, there is a form of progress there if he chooses to see it. Though one suspects moral victories are of little use to this serial winner.

Conor Whelan returned to form with a haul of 1-6, Kevin Cooney grew into the game to hit 0-3, while Brian Concannon must have felt his third was the insurance score in the 75th minute.

That is until Buckley’s strike which came on 75:13, just after the five minutes of injury time had been played. To be fair to Sean Stack, it is a minimum of five.

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It speaks to Galway’s lack of quality one-v-one defenders that Padraic Mannion has had to be moved into the full-back line and his battle with Cody was a brilliant side plot to this clash, with the latter hitting 0-3 and winning several frees.

TJ Reid tapped over three of the best and added five placed balls, and will face into yet another All-Ireland semi-final.

Eleven years ago, Wally Walsh scored 1-3 as a bolter for the All-Ireland final replay against the Tribe and he came on here to fire 1-2 — with the bench delivering 2-4 overall.

Mikey Butler was an unknown quantity a year and a half ago and while he struggled on Whelan at times, he drove forward to arrow a low ball to the bet on 40 minutes.

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Cian Kenny hasn’t seemed to be flavour of the month with Derek Lyng but popped a couple of points here in a strong display and may stay in the reckoning no matter who is available for the semi-final.

The one score that Galway got from the bench was a Jason Flynn goal after Whelan got onto a break around the ’21, and more depth would certainly help their chances in what is sure to be a tough road to an All-Ireland from here.

Lyng jumped with delighted at the final whistle and well he might. To deliver your first championship silverware when succeeding Brian Cody will lift a huge weight from his shoulders, and to do it in such fashion will make it all the more memorable.

Four in a row for Kilkenny, and still they reign supreme in Leinster.

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