crushing | 

Ruthless Kilkenny bring Dublin back to earth with 13-point win at Parnell Park

Kenny given food for thought as Cats put end to unbeaten run

Walter Walsh of Kilkenny shoots to score his side's first goal during the Allianz Hurling League Division 1 match against Dublin at Parnell Park. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

Dermot Crowe

In an interview before the match Mattie Kenny was asked about Dublin being billed as favourites for this league game at Parnell Park, with a large expectant crowd arriving on a sunny evening in Donnycarney.

The hosts, unbeaten so far this year, were coming off a spirited win in Thurles the previous weekend. Kenny seemed to recoil slightly, reminding the world that this was just a league game in March and without having to say it, that Kilkenny would have a reputation for making light of such pretensions.

He may have sensed the train coming. In what looked like a throwback to times past, when Kilkenny stomped all over emerging Dublin hopes, Kenny’s side lost its unbeaten record in the league, allowing the visitors to leapfrog over them on the table. It was an impressive showing by Brian Cody’s side, with all the hallmarks of yore: Hard work, an insatiable appetite for the ball, and being relentless in the tackle.

Dublin couldn’t cope and were left with a chastening defeat. They trailed by five points (0-5 0-11) at half time but hope was ignited by a run of three points early in the second half. That was until Walter Walsh cracked home a goal in the 43rd minute after Dublin really ought to have cleared the ball. You don’t offer Kilkenny a second go and when the ball was played to Walsh, he finished powerfully.

In a minute Padraig Walsh had a point and Dublin, having found some fluency and much-needed energy, were hit with 1-1 and reeling. Wally Walsh shot over another point and in the 50th minute the game lost any prospect of a competitive interest when Mossy Keoghan rifled home a second goal, set up well by John Donnelly. Eleven points ahead, soon to be 12, the game was up.

Walter Walsh finished with 1-3, while Padraig Walsh had four points, and Keoghan 1-1. Dublin couldn’t repeat the performance that defeated Tipperary, with Danny Sutcliffe scoring 0-3 but their forwards unable to create much room under intense Kilkenny pressure.

Huw Lawlor gave a powerful performance at full back, with Paddy Deegan offering strong cover outside him, while the player to really catch the eye was left half-back David Blanchfield. Young and wiry, he had a fine match and decorated his performance with three long-range points from play.

Dublin suffered a setback with the loss of captain and influential leader Eoghan O’Donnell before the match, with Sean Moran coming into the team. In the first half, playing against the breeze, Kilkenny absorbed some early pressure and benefited from poor Dublin finishing, before settling and grinding down the opposition.

Nothing fancy, just hard work and throwing themselves about. Alan Murphy scored five points and they gradually built up their five-point lead by the half-time interval, with Walter Walsh and Blanchfield landing points.

Dublin started off with a score from Rian McBride inside the opening half minute, a move that seemed to bode well for the home side. Conor Burke hit Aidan Mellett with a diagonal ball and he fed McBride who scored. It was the only time they led in the first half, however, with Murphy quickly levelling the match from a free and then putting Kilkenny ahead in the fourth minute.

Dublin did not help their cause with early wides which sapped their energy, four in the opening eight minutes, with the breeze appearing to bring most of those shots to the left of the posts. By the end of the half, they had seven wides to Kilkenny’s five, and their game started to break down under intense Kilkenny pressure, with players swarming all over the man in possession.

After a Donal Burke point from play in the 13th minute, Dublin’s next score was a Burke free in the 28th minute. In the period in between, Padraig Walsh started a run of three points without reply and a gap started to appear. They finished the half with points from Blanchfield, Mossy Keoghan and Walter Walsh to leave Dublin in trouble.

A minute’s silence was held in memory of Paul Shefflin, the former Kilkenny minor captain and All-Ireland medal winner with Ballyhale Shamrocks, and younger brother of Henry, who died suddenly the previous day.

Scorers - Kilkenny: W Walsh 1-3; A Murphy 0-5 (4fs); M Keoghan 1-1; P Walsh 0-4; D Blanchfield 0-3; M Carey, B Ryan 0-2 each; J Donnelly, C Kenny, C Buckley 0-1 each. Dublin: D Burke 0-9 (5 fs, 2 65s); D Sutcliffe 0-3; R Hayes 0-2; P Crummey, R McBride 0-1 each.

Kilkenny: E Murphy; M Butler, H Lawlor, T Walsh; M Carey, P Deegan, D Blanchfield; C Kenny, C Buckley; W Walsh, P Walsh, T Phelan; A Murphy, B Ryan, M Keoghan. Subs: J Donnelly for Phelan (inj 34); J Maher for Kenny (inj 45).

Dublin: A Nolan; A Dunphy, S Moran, C O’Callaghan; J Bellew, P Smyth, J Madden; C Burke, C Crummey; D Sutcliffe, R McBride, D Burke; F Whitely, R Hayes, A Mellett. Subs: E Dillon for Whitely (46); J Malone for Burke (51); D Ryan for Moran (52); P Crummey for Hayes (59); C Currie for Mellett (61).

Referee: P O’Dwyer (Carlow).

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