Kilkenny lived up to all the hype and clichés that surround them as they produced a sensational comeback to deny a marvelous Galway effort in a compelling clash in Tullamore on Sunday.
The game changed drastically at stages, Galway enjoying two superb bursts at the start of both halves and Kilkenny doing the same at the end of both halves.
Leinster SHC Semi-Final:
Kilkenny 2-20 Galway 3-13
Joe Canning and Henry Shefflin were as brilliant as expected, scoring a remarkable 2-19 between them, with wunderkind Canning hitting 2-9 of that total.
Canning hit a wondrous early goal to put Galway in charge but two goals before the break from Kilkenny's Richie Power and Eddie Brennan changed things.
Canning struck again after half-time with a goal from a free, and Niall Healy's poked three-pointer had Galway five clear again.
However, inspired by Eoin Larkin, Kilkenny went on an amazing nine-point run and it ultimately ended Galway's brave fight.
Galway's Richie Murray was sent off late on for striking with the hurl.
The Tribesmen began superbly and their blistering start was all the work of Canning, the Portumna star in sparkling form as he notched 1-3 within the first fifteen minutes.
Canning and Shefflin traded the first scores and then the Galway full-forward scored a goal of real quality.
As he beelined towards the goal at an angle, he balanced the ball effortlessly on his stick.
A hoard of Kilkenny defenders was alongside him as he glided, but he seemed unaware of them as he flicked the ball beautifully past PJ Ryan.
Sheffln kept Kilkenny in it with a free but Canning struck another excellent placed ball before Aongus Callinan's score from distance put five in it.
Shefflin and Canning continued to trade frees which suited Galway as they protected their lead.
However, a devastating Kilkenny burst just shy of half-time changed the game.
Power was central to the recovery, flicking in the scrappiest of goals after a series of deflections and flicks in the Galway area.
Larkin then powered over a point before Power beautifully handpassed across the goal to Brennan who struck hard and low to the net.
Those two Kilkenny goals stunned Galway who suddenly found themselves behind.
Cyril Donnellan's tasty score was a welcome one for Galway as they steadied things before the break but Shefflin added another to leave two points between them at half-time.
But just as Kilkenny had transformed things with two goals in a minute, Galway did the very same after the break.
Canning, a true phenomenon, changed everything when he took his personal tally to 2-6 with an incredible smashed free from 21 yards straight to the net.
He then quickly hit two frees over, either side of a Larkin point to put Galway two up.
They fed off the revival and seconds later Niall Healy hit 1-1 in a minute, the goal a triumph in perseverance as he managed to roll the ball over the line having being bundled in the area.
Aidan Fogarty and Shefflin pointed to keep Kilkenny in it, but with 20 minutes remaining, Galway's tremendous workrate, and the majesty of Canning had them four clear.
But Shefflin's class, while perhaps not still of the explosive quality of Canning's, can still deliver in those biggest of moments.
After a quick free, he landed a score of mammoth distance to put two in it and then Fogarty's classy score reduced the gap to one.
Larkin then hit two superb points to finally push Kilkenny back in front. It meant Brian Cody's men had hit six points in a row and Galway's spirit had been deadened. They were nowhere.
Derek Lyng then bombed over a score before the brilliant Larkin hit yet another. It was relentless; it was the expression of all the Kilkenny mythologies.
They had taken everything Galway threw at them and come back and hit nine successive points to suffocate them.
Galway's collapse was compounded by the dismissal of Murray for an ugly hack and when Larkin put five between them, there was an almost nauseating element to Kilkenny's brute power and brilliance.
Galway were etherized but Damien Hayes managed to clip one over before the end to leave the gap at four, which is as noble an effort as anyone has made against Kilkenny in the Championship in a long time.