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Galway pull off one of Irish sport’s greatest upsets -- Invincible Kilkenny stopped in their tracks

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Galway make hurling history
It was one of the greatest upsets in the recent history of Irish sports and the man from the Irish Times summed it up when he stated, “Astonishment and history rhymed”, giving a different twist to the Seamus Heaney line about hope and history rhyming.

Galway, unconsidered  6-1 outsiders, defeated Kilkenny, the reigning All Ireland champions, to win their first ever Leinster hurling title on a score of  Galway 2-21 Kilkenny 2-11:

Now, before hundreds of you write in saying Galway is in Connacht, yes of course it is, but for purposes of hurling, Galway migrates across to Leinster as they have no opposition in Connacht.

No opposition might also be the way everyone thought of this game. Since 1997, Kilkenny have lost exactly two games in Leinster. When they last played Galway earlier this year, they beat them by 25 points. This Galway effected a 35 point turnaround, the equivalent of being beaten by eight goals in soccer, and then beating the same opposition 3-0.

Think of the US hockey team winning the gold medal in 1980 against the mighty Russians.Think of America beating England, the cradle of the game, in soccer 1-0 in 1950 and you have some sense of the upset.

And think of the 21,000 who were present ,one of the smallest attendances ever at the Leinster hurling final because everyone believed Kilkenny were home and hosed. Here is the scene setting report form the man at TheJournal.ie before the game.

“Really bad atmosphere but at least the Artane Band create some noise as the teams line-up for their lap of the pitch. Everyone saying it might as well be a victory lap for Kilkenny and we haven’t even started. If it was anyone else that would sound arrogant, but here it seems like justified confidence. “

How wrong could everyone be?

When the game started, Galway raced to a 2-12 to 0-4 points lead and everyone just sat stunned. Kilkenny came back in the second half but never came close. The Galway fans, the few that traveled, were singing ‘The West’s Awake” long before the game ended. Awake indeed.

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