Kilkenny joy after Cats see off New York to claim All-Ireland Junior Football Championship at Croke Park

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Christy Walsh has backed the Kilkenny senior hurlers to complete the second-half of a dream double of All-Ireland title successes for the county.

alsh’s footballers capped a memorable weekend with an impressive Croke Park performance to claim the All-Ireland Junior Football title, the county’s first ever.

Stoppage time goals from Mick Kenny and John Walsh secured a slightly flattering nine-point win for the Cats though they were full value for the win overall.

The competition was overhauled this year to allow mainly for overseas participants and Kilkenny defeated London 3-11 to 2-9 on Friday evening at Abbotstown in a semi-final double header.

New York took care of Warwickshire in the other semi-final though trailed from pillar to post this time and will jet back out to the Big Apple on Monday following their five-day trip.

Johnny McGeeney’s side, which included a number of players who had featured in the Connacht Championship and Tailteann Cup, did come alive in the third quarter and briefly reduced their arrears to two points following a 41st minute Brian Coughlan goal.

They had the opportunity to make it a one-point game soon after from a free but wasted the chance and never recovered.

Back to back Kenny points for Kilkenny put five points between the teams again and the late goals stretched the deficit.

Kilkenny supporters will hope that it’s a good omen ahead of their return to Croke Park next Sunday for the senior hurling final against Limerick.

“I’d give them every chance next Sunday as well, God I would,” said Kerry native Walsh, a Railway Cup hurling medallist himself from his playing days with the Kingdom. “I think the momentum is with Kilkenny. They’re happy and they’re healthy and all fit and they had a powerful win in the semi-final. I think their curve might be coming up and Limerick’s might be just coming down a bit.”

Among the Kilkenny players to take part in a lap of honour with the trophy was four-time hurling All-Star Paul Murphy who played a key role in both the semi-final and final wins.

“We’ve got quality players,” maintained Walsh. “They wouldn’t look out of place in a lot of teams and they’ve got their reward with a fantastic win. I don’t know where this takes us, maybe it’ll just be another weekend next year but we’ll see.”

Kilkenny finished strongly on Friday evening against London and brought that momentum to bear early in the final, hitting the game’s first five points.

Jim Culleton’s second point of the afternoon left the black and amber men 0-6 to 0-2 up and Jamie Holohan’s goal shortly after, following a clever pass by Adam Mansfield, left New York in trouble.

Kilkenny led 1-6 to 0-4 at half-time but four New York points in a row, two either side of the interval, cut the deficit to just a goal.

Coughlan’s excellent solo goal left just two in it though Kilkenny steadied themselves and navigated the last quarter hour or so impressively.

They maintained a three-point gap into stoppage time before Kenny and Walsh both punished errors in the New York defence with 63rd and 66th minute goals.

Scorers:

Kilkenny: M Kenny 1-4 (4f), J Holohan 1-2, J Walsh 1-0, J Culleton 0-2, C Hennessy, K Blanchfield, S Kelly, E Phelan 0-1 each.

New York: B Coughlan 1-1 (0-1f), S McElligot 0-4 (4f), M Brosnan, Conor Mathers 0-2 each.

Teams:

Kilkenny: K Dunphy; P Murphy, T Kenny; G Malone; K Blanchfield, C Wallace, S Kelly; J Culleton, T Aylward; C Hennessy, M Malone, M Kenny; R Monks, J Holohan, A Mansfield.

Subs: E Phelan for Monks & J Walsh for Mansfield (h/t), S Murphy for Hennessy (45), S Stapleton for Malone (52), J Fennelly for Kelly (61).

New York: B Cole; M Boyle, D Corridan, P Mathers; C Hogan; D Curran, J Boyle, P Cronin; Conor Mathers, C Rafferty; B Coughlan, T Mathers, K Loane; S McElligot, M Brosnan.

Subs: Caolan Mathers for Rafferty (h/t), E Loughran for Loane (41), D Rooney for Cronin (52), R O’Neill for Hogan & J Breen for Corridan (56).

Ref: B Tiernan (Dublin).

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