Enda Fahy was the super sub for Galway as the ten-time All-Ireland minor champions advanced to another decider with a thrilling 1-12 to 2-08 win over Kilkenny at Croke Park.
Jeffrey Lynskey’s side were 1-06 to 0-06 behind after a first-half where Jim Ryan hit the net early for Kilkenny.
Jack Canning — nephew of Joe — scored a second-half penalty for Galway and despite Eoin Cody netting a second goal for Kilkenny, Galway just had enough in the end.
Galway last won a minor All-Ireland in 2015 when they beat Tipperary and this was a stern test heading into another final, with Conor Heary’s late red card the final blow for Pat O’Grady’s outfit.
Galway took the lead after just 31 seconds when Canning sent over a wonderful effort from out wide on the right wing but the Kilkenny response was excellent.
Heary won possession, drove forward and his diagonal ball was fielded by Jim Ryan, who blasted past Darach Fahy and into the Galway net. That score came in the third minute and the teams traded scores for the rest of the half.
Canning slotted his and Galway’s second point before Adrian Mullen hit back for Kilkenny. Mullen had scored 1-9 in Kilkenny’s Leinster final victory over Dublin, but Darren Morrissey was keeping the shackles on him here.
Conor Molloy opened his account and Canning hit a third brilliant effort, this time from the left, but Kilkenny always kept in front with James Brennan and then Cody on target.
There were some fantastic scores from play, Eoin O’Shea and Niall Brassil added to Kilkenny’s tally, but both defence were well on top.
Sean Bleahane scored Galway’s last point of the half in the 19th minute and Kilkenny only registered one more point after that with Mullen tapping over a free.
It was 1-06 to 0-06 at half-time but Walsh tapped over a free on the restart and then Canning scored his fourth point from play to bring Galway to within one.
Cody kept Galway at bay when he followed up on his own rebound to bat Kilkenny’s second goal to the net seven minutes into the second-half.
But Galway hit the next two scores, and Canning blasted a penalty past Dean Mason after substitute Donal Mannion was hauled down by Darragh Walsh in the 38th minute.
Bleahane levelled the game with his second point before Mullen finally scored his first from play in the 46th minute, but Belahane scored again.
Both sides had plenty of chances in the closing stages and Mullen looked like he had sealed the win for Kilkenny with a disputed 65 in the 56th minute.
But Mannion was impressive and he brought Galway back level, and in the final minute of normal time Heary was sent off for a second yellow card after he fouled Morrissey.
Galway seized the initiative in added-time and Fahy kept his composure to land a massive score in the 64th minute.
Galway: D Fahy; C Killeen, D Loftus, D Morrissey; R Glennon, C Caulfield, M Gill; C Fahey, J Fleming; M McManus, C Walsh (0-02, 0-02f), B Moran; S Bleahane (0-03), C Molloy (0-01), J Canning (1-04, 1-00 pen).
Subs: S Ryan for Fleming (36), D Mannion (0-01) for Molloy (36), C Elwood for Moran (47), E Fahy (0-01) for McManus (53).
Kilkenny: D Mason; T Ronan, M Carey, D Walsh; J Brennan (0-01), C Flynn, J Molloy; J Dowd, N Brassil (0-01); E O’Shea (0-01), C Heary, J Ryan (1-00); E Cody (1-01), A Mullen (0-04, 0-02f, 0-01 ’65), S Ryan.
Subs: N Brennan for Brassil (7, blood), Brassil for N Brennan (11), D Barron for S Ryan (49), J Kelly for O’Shea (52), N Brennan for J Ryan (57).
Referee: Johnny Murphy (Limerick).