Report: Canning holds his nerve to force All-Ireland replay

9 Sep

Published by, 9 September 2012

Kilkenny 0-19 Galway 2-13

ON HIS FIRST appearance at the big dance Joe Canning was the coolest man in Croke Park, pointing a free deep into stoppage time as Galway and Kilkenny played out a frantic draw in the All-Ireland SHC final.

It was a moment of redemption for the Portumna ace who missed a straightforward free to level the match late on, leaving Kilkenny on the brink of sixth title in seven seasons after Henry Shefflin nudged them in front with a pointed penalty in the 68th minute.

After the minors of Dublin and Tipperary played out a thrilling draw in the curtain-raiser, the seniors matched that drama until referee Barry Kelly’s final whistle. It is the first time since 1959 that the hurling decider has finished in a draw; the replay takes place on 30 September, with the Ladies SFC final pushed back a week to 7 October as a result.

Among the afternoon’s many plot lines was the battle between two of the game’s modern greats: Shefflin, in search of his ninth winner’s medal, and Canning trying to bag his precious first. It was the man in maroon who owned Headquarters in the first half, scoring 1-6 including a brilliant solo goal to spark the final into life in the ninth minute.

As Kilkenny racked up the wides Canning and Galway pushed on and led by seven before Kilkenny narrowed the gap through a quick succession of Shefflin frees to trail by five at the break, 1-9 to 0-7.

The Cats grew in confidence as they set about eating into that margin in the second half and regained the lead when Shefflin fired over a long-range point in the 54th minute. Galway’s response was as emphatic as it was swift though, Niall Burke blasting his side’s second goal past David Herity less than 60 seconds later.

From that point, the game surged back and forth in a tense finale which neither side seemed willing to lose. James Skehill kept Galway’s dream of Liam alive with a stunning diving save from Colin Fennelly but the keeper nearly went from hero to villain at the death when his lunge on Eoin Larkin gave Shefflin a chance to seal the win with a penalty.

With two minutes on the clock the Ballyhale Shamrocks man took his point rather than risk a shot on goal.

Still it seemed that it might be enough when Canning missed his first free from 50 yards, but when Davy Glennon was fouled on the Hogan Stand side deep into stoppage time, Canning struck his final chance straight and true into the Hill 16 end to force the replay.

Kilkenny scorers: Henry Shefflin 0-12 (0-10f, 0-1 pen), TJ Reid, Eoin Larkin 0-2 each, Richie Hogan, Richie Power, Aidan Fogarty 0-1 each.

Galway scorers: Joe Canning 1-9 (0-8f), Niall Burke 1-2, Andy Smith, Niall Donoghue 0-1 each.

KILKENNY: David Herity; Paul Murphy, JJ Delaney, Jackie Tyrrell; Tommy Walsh, Brian Hogan, Kieran Joyce; Michael Fennelly, Richie Hogan; Henry Shefflin, TJ Reid, Eoin Larkin; Colin Fennelly, Richie Power, Aidan Fogarty (Emeralds).
GALWAY: James Skehill; David Collins, Kevin Hynes, Fergal Moore; Niall Donoghue, Tony Óg Regan, Johnny Coen; Iarla Tannian, Andy Smith; David Burke, Niall Burke, James Regan; Cyril Donnellan, Joe Canning, Damien Hayes.

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