BY NIALL SHERRY
Walter hit 1-3 in 13-point win
Allianz National Hurling League – Division 1 B
@ Parnell Park
On a spring-like day in Parnell Park, Brian Cody’s team inflicted the first defeat of the year on Dublin, as the Cats put in their most complete performance of the season to date.
Majors from Walter Walsh and Mossy Keoghan in the opening quarter of the second half put an end to any thoughts the home side might have had of extending their winning run in 2022.
Kilkenny were by far and away the better team on the day. Their physicality and work-rate proved too much for Mattie Kenny’s side, who were a well off the pace throughout the contest, and actually failed to score from play in the 22 minutes leading up to the short whistle.
Dublin were dealt a huge blow before throw-in when star defender, Eoghan O’Donnell was ruled out and was replaced in the starting XV by Sean Moran. O’Donnell is one of the top-rated full-backs in hurling, and his loss was sorely felt by the Metropolitans as they struggled to contain the Noresiders attack.
The home side registered the first score of the day inside the opening minute, as a lovely diagonal ball into corner-forward Aidan Mellett, saw the Ballyboden attacker lay-off a nice pass to the supporting Rian McBride who fired over from out on the left wing.
The visitors struck back immediately. A long ball into the Dublin defence was won by a blue shirt, but referee Paud O’Dwyer blew for some holding on a Kilkenny player, and this gave Glenmore’s Alan Murphy his first point of the day from the placed ball. Alan started the game in and around the midfield area, while Cillian Buckley looked to be roaming much further forward.
Murphy doubled his tally moments later, when a Dublin defender was deemed to have over-carried, a decision which appeared slightly harsh on the home side.
Another searching diagonal ball into the Dublin attack saw the ball arrive with Ronan Hayes, and the Kilmacud Crokes man fired over from out on the right side to level things up.
Some loose play saw Padraig Walsh pick the ball up and find Paddy Deegan in space inside his own half. The O’Loughlin’s man arrowed a lovely pass into midfielder Cian Kenny, who’s shot split the posts to put Kilkenny back in the lead. The marginal decisions continued to go the way of the travelling team, as Dublin were blown-up for an illegal hand-pass, again somewhat harsh it appeared. Alan Murphy didn’t complain and slotted over the resulting free, for his sides fourth point of the game.
The home side then reduced the deficit, when a short sideline cut from Donal Burke saw him take the ball back from Sean Moran, before firing over a well-worked score.
The game then became a little scrappy and ragged, with both sides seemingly intent on giving up possession and hitting uncharacteristic wides. Tullaroan’s Padraig Walsh, then marked his 45th National League outing in the black & amber with his first point of the day. With 20 minutes on the clock, Kilkenny were 5-3 up, having registered 4 wides to Dublin’s 6. Some nice play from Tullogher Rosbercon’s Walter Walsh saw the big man stride away from his marker, before offloading the ball to Alan Murphy, who rifled over his fourth point of the day and first from play.
It may have taken Walter 20 minutes to get up to speed in the game, but he put in a solid display for the remainder of the Parnell Park encounter, as his direct style of play caused numerous problems for the Dublin defence. One of his first gallops into the sky-blue’s defence saw him register his first of the day with a fine finish.
Mattie Kenny’s men got their first score in a while when Donal Burke popped over a free. Alan Murphy then scored from a placed ball on 29 minutes to take his tally to 5 points, but rather surprisingly, his last score of the day.
Dublin and Burke responded again via the placed ball, but that was to be the final point of a very disappointing half from the home side.
Cody’s Cats on the other hand, hit another three points before the interval, first up was Bennettsbridge clubman David Blanchfield then got on the score sheet with a nice long-range score, with what was to be the first of three might scores for the wing-back. Next up for the away side was Mossy, who benefited from some lovely play by Walter Walsh, to give his side a double-score lead. There would still be time for one more Kilkenny score, again big Walter was rolling back the clock in a performance echoing that of the 2012 All-Ireland final replay, when he hit 1-3 against Galway.
When Carlow whistler Paud O’Dwyer blew for the interval, Kilkenny had marched into a much deserved 6-point lead, 0-11 to 0-5.
The Dublin faithful were stunned. They had made their feelings known about some of the officiating in the opening period, with vocal responses to many of O’Dwyer’s decisions.
A good start would be needed in the second half, if Dublin were to mount any sort of a challenge to Kilkenny’s opening half of dominance. Mattie Kenny’s team ticked that box, by hitting the first 3 points of the 3rd quarter. Full-forward Ronan Hayes fired over from play, while Na Fianna’s Donal Burke registered two more from placed balls, to reduce the deficit to just 3-points.
Dublin’s resurgence seemed to awaken Kilkenny again and normal service resumed when Mossy fed Walter who rattled the net from about 14 metres out to undo the Dubs second half comeback. In fact, Cody’s men would hit 2-3 without reply, in a blistering spell that would put the result beyond any doubt. Padraig Walsh hit his second point of the day from the puck-out, before Walter hit his third point.
Then came the game set and match moment. Substitute John Donnelly collect a puck-out before bursting straight through the heart of the Dublin defence. As the Thomastown man breached the ‘D’ he laid the ball off to Mossy Keoghan, who fired past Alan Nolan in the Dublin goal, for green flag number 2! Cillian Buckley, who was a late inclusion in place of Adrian Mullen, then fired over a point to further silence the home crowd.
Donal Burke slotted over another placed ball, but as before, Kilkenny kept the scoreboard ticking over, this time via Padraig Walsh’s third point of the day. Dublin danger-man, Danny Sutcliffe, who had been kept fairly quiet by the Cats defence, and by David Blanchfield in particular, then hit his first of the day.
Young Irelands Mikey Carey then hit a point in a bid to rival fellow wing-back Blanchfield, but the latter then fired over a second one from distance as Kilkenny’s dominance was being rewarded on the score board. St Jude’s Sutcliffe then popped over his second of the day, before Graigue-Ballycallan’s Billy Ryan added his name to the list of scorers as the game reached the hour mark.
Two more frees from Donal Burke followed, before the Sash’s Padraig Walsh notch his fourth score of the day. Dublin Sub Paul Crummey then fired over a nice point, but again the visitor’s replied, this time through a second score from Billy Ryan. Wing-forward Burke continued his accuracy via the placed ball, while Danny Sutcliffe got his third of the second half, and his sides final score of the day as the game entered additional time.
Kilkenny on the other hand weren’t quite finished. The battle of the wing-backs continued as both Carey and Blanchfield registered further scores, before John Donnelly fired over the final score of the game, to signal a first defeat of 2022 for Mattie Kenny’s sky blues. Final score, Dublin 0-16, Kilkenny 2-23.
Dublin: Alan Nolan; Andrew Dunphy, Cian O’Callaghan, John Bellew; Sean Moran, Paddy Smyth, James Madden; Chris Crummey, Conor Burke; Donal Burke (0-09; 6f, 1 ‘65), Riain McBride (0-01), Danny Sutcliffe (0-03); Fergal Whitely, Ronan Hayes (0-02), Aidan Mellett
Subs: Eamon Dillon for Whitely (46); Jake Malone for C Burke (51); Donnacha Ryan for Moran (52); Paul Crummey (0-01) for Hayes (58); Colin Currie for Mellett (61)
Kilkenny: Eoin Murphy; Mikey Butler, Huw Lawlor, Tommy Walsh; Mikey Carey (0-02), Paddy Deegan, David Blanchfield (0-03); Cian Kenny (0-01), Alan Murphy (0-05; 0-4f); Wally Walsh (1-03), Padraig Walsh (0-04), Tom Phelan; Cillian Buckley (0-01), Billy Ryan (0-02), Martin Keoghan (1-01)
Subs: John Donnelly (0-01) for Phelan (36); James Maher for Kenny (45);
Referee: Paud O’Dwyer (Carlow)
>> SHERRY SAYS………..
Now we’re talking. Things are beginning to shape up nicely. There was an intensity about the Kilkenny performance. The Cats brought a good level of physicality to proceedings in Parnell Park.
This intensity and physicality were rewarded in the shape of a resounding victory over an unbeaten Dublin side, who many people were talking up following their impressive start to 2022.
The Captial victory means Brian Cody’s charges are in a decent position to claim a semi-final berth in this year’s competition.
A solid first half was built on in the second period. A 10-minute spell that saw the Cats hit 2-3 without reply was key to this victory on the road.
The fact that all of Kilkenny’s 2-12 registered in the second period, came from play, is in itself an impressive statistic.
Walter Walsh hit 1-3, in arguably his best performance in the county jersey since that 2012 All-Ireland Final replay.
Mossy hit 1-1, as five of the six starting forwards registered scores.
Tullaroan’s Padraig Walsh hit 0-4 in an awesome display, as he showed his worth at No.11. Can Mr. Cody really put him back to No.6?
Glenmore’s Alan Murphy was his usual dependable self from the placed ball.
O’Loughlin’s Paddy Deegan got on lots of ball and provided some lovely ball into his attackers.
Another MOTM performance from Huw Lawlor. He certainly looks right at home in the No.3 shirt.
Let’s talk about David Blanchfield. The wing- back hot 3 wonderful points from distance and looks a real prospect in the county jersey.
It’s building nicely, Waterford up next.