By Jimmy Rhatigan
All pics: Donal Foley
THERE WAS a certain irony about the opening minutes of the U17
All-Ireland Minor Hurling Final.
Red hot favourites Galway were not exactly sizzling. They were dithering like Cats on a Hot Tin Roof, nervous and unsteady.
The Electric Ireland Final certainly didn’t flare up the boys from the West as it was the Kilkenny Cats who had the real power and with a spring in their steps and fire in their bellies they looked as if they could rock with a shock.
But it wasn’t to be.
Slowly but surely The Tribesmen, make that boys, settled down and whittled back the lead.
By the 11th minute Galway were in front for the first time.
Yet Kilkenny looked that bit sharper and certainly more energetic for much of the half and at the break they were still ahead by 0-10 to 0-9.
But after their young players had, for the most part, called the shots in half one, there was a mere puck of a ball only between the teams.
Kilkenny probably would have deserved a more generous lead and no doubt it was Galway boss Jeffrey Lynskey who was counting his blessings at the interval.
Whether or not he resorted to a decade of the rosary in the hope that the West might awaken, we may never hear.
But what we do know is that the clever and very brave bainisteoir went for bust when he played what we might loosely call Russian Roulette.
At the time some might have suggested he was pressing a panic button when he piled on four young subs early in half two.
It remained to be seen whether the bold move would prove to be magic or madness.
The new kids on the block, all of them sweet 16 in age, provided the punch and panache that fired a dagger into the heart of plucky Kilkenny.
Gaffer Jeffrey had found his Mojo in the dugout.
His pluck was rewarded.
Richie Mulrooney showed courage too as he emptied his subs’ bench.
But unfortunately his newcomers didn’t have the cutting edge effect that had poured forth in maroon jerseys.
Galway did to Kilkenny what the Cats had done to the Tribesboys early in the Battle of Croker.
Successive points in the 14th, 15th and 16 minutes of the second half put Galway into a commanding three-point lead.
Galway continued to create chances but they left the door ajar with some wild shooting.
Despite a Herculean effort in the dying stages when a goal only would catapult them back into contention, Kilkenny failed to breach a stubborn Galway rearguard, albeit with Lady Luck turning her back on them.
It was 0-14 to 0-20 after an hour.
The Fat Lady was clearing her throat.
Our Cats had four minutes to perform miracles.
Even borrowing Jeffrey Lynsksey’s rosary beads would hardly have worked the oracle.
The final will be remembered as the day when Galway Subs torpedoed the Good Ship Kilkenny.
The Captain of the Galway Submarine, one Jeffrey Lynskey will go down in Western hurling folklore.