BY NIALL SHERRY
Victory over Wexford will secure Cats Leinster Final berth
AIB Leinster Senior Hurling Championship
Parnell Park, Saturday May 14th
Dublin 0-17 Kilkenny 3-25
Kilkenny reminded the hurling fraternity of their class with a resounding 17-point victory over Dublin at a sun-kissed Parnell Park, last Saturday evening. The win means that Brian Cody’s men are well-placed to secure a tilt at claiming a third Bob O’Keefe Cup on the bounce.
It was more or less a full house at the Donnycarney venue, and those Gaels in attendance witnessed an emphatic second half performance from the Cats, as they laid down a marker for all those with designs on de-throning Limerick.
The Noresiders made one enforced change, with Erins Own defender Conor Delaney replacing the commanding Huw Lawlor at full-back. Bainisteoir Brian Cody also made four other changes from the programme, with captain Richie Reid, Cian Kenny, Alan Murphy and Mossy Keoghan coming in for Conor Browne, James Maher, Cillian Buckley and Billy Ryan respectively.
Those late change certainly proved dividends, as those players contributed 2-8 to the black and amber’s impressive total of 3-25. Tullaroan’s Mossy Keoghan notched 2-1, as yet again he demonstrated his eye for a goal in the rout of the previously unbeaten Metropolitans.
The first half was very much evenly contested, with both sides squaring up to each other and not giving an inch as they wrestled for supremacy. The collisions were forceful and you got a sense that Mr. Cody had warned his charges to expect a physical encounter from Dublin, as Mattie Kenny searched for what would only have been the 2nd Leinster championship win over Kilkenny in almost 80 years.
Both sides registered scores in the opening minute, with Adrian Mullen drawing first blood for the cats, before Dublin’s deadly placed ball specialist, Donal Burke levelled moments later. Whitehall Colmcille’s Daire Gray and The Village’s Cian Kenny exchanged points to leave the sides on 2 points apiece after just 2 minutes of frantic action in the capital. Dublin took the lead for the first time thanks to a nice point from St Vincents midfielder Conor Burke. As both sides sought to take control of proceedings, the hits got a little harder and no quarter was given.
On eight minutes Cian Kenny notched his second point of the day, as he looked right at home in the inside forward line, alongside Eoin Cody and Mossy. Kenny is a talented hurler and his touch was assured throughout the contest. Donal Burke then struck over a mighty free from way out the park to edge the hosts ahead, before Kilmacud’s Fergal Whitely withstood some serious Kilkenny defensive pressure and popped over a fine score. The Dublin faithful enjoyed that one as they found their voices!
The visitors man of the moment, Cian Kenny then hit his third point of the day. The ciotóg cut across the park, scanning for options, before deciding to strike the shot and sent the sliotar between the posts. Moments later Glenmore’s Alan Murphy, reveling in the engine room, fired over a spectacular effort on half-way, to deadlock the contest again with 15 minutes gone.
Walter Walsh then took possession and went on typical WW run, with a major on his mind. Conor Burke was attempting to halt the Tulloger-Rosbercon players run illegally, and referee Walsh played a good advantage, but called the play back for a free after Walter’s shot went wide. TJ Reid fired over his first point from the placed ball, with this his second effort of the game. TJ then notched a nice point from play on 20 minutes, only to see scores from Lucan Sarsfields Chris Crummey and another sumptuous effort from Na Fianna’s Donal Burke bring the sides level once again on 21 minutes.
Clontarf man Paddy Smyth was then turned-over and from about ‘65 out, near the side line, Alan Murphy rifled over a lovely point. Ballyhale’s Adrian Mullen then sent over an incredible effort from long-range to put his team 2 ahead, but the frantic nature of the opening period continued and Dublin were soon level again, thanks to points from the ‘Burke’s’, first Conor, then Donal.
Then came the first Kilkenny major of the day. Dublin corner-back James Madden played a loose ball out of defence that was intercepted and moved quickly to Adrian Mullen on half-way. The Shamrocks man sent a searching ball deep into the Dublin back line where Mossy Keoghan and Cian Kenny were lurking. Despite the attentions of both corner-backs, Mossy showed great skill in getting the ball to hand, before drilling a real ‘daisy-cutter’ of a shot on the angle than beat the sky blues keeper Sean Brennan all ends up! 27 on the clock, the visitors 3 points ahead.
St Vincents Rian McBride then struck over a fine point, and this was followed by another Donal Burke free. The final two scores of the first half would come from the Cats. Alan Murphy hit his third of the day, before goal scorer, Keoghan beat his man to the ball, turned expertly and split the Dublin posts. Waterford whistler Thomas Walsh then blew for half-time with Kilkenny a goal to the good, 1-11 to Dublin’s 0-11.
Brian Cody elected to make one change at the interval, with Thomastown’s John Donnelly replacing Walter. The opening score of the second half came from the home side with Mark Schutte pointing 3 minutes into the 3rd quarter. The Cats responded immediately, that man Cian Kenny firing over a well taken point, his 4th of the game.
O’Loughlin’s Paddy Deegan then slipped a pass to Adrian Mullen who rifled over a stunning point from inside his own half! That was last year’s captain’s third of the day, and his best to date. Some great pressing by the Kilkenny players led to Daire Gray being blown-up and TJ made no mistake from the free. Dublin’s response was placed ball popped over the bar by the deadly Donal Burke. Burke did the same minutes later, and one wondered where this Dublin team would be without the excellent Na Fianna man.
The home really needed a goal, but it would be the visitors that would register another major. Eoin Cody who had been unusually quiet all evening, put James Madden under pressure and TJ Reid picked up the loose ball and scanned the area for options. As ever, TJ made the right decision and played a lovely pass to Martin Keoghan. Mossy took the pass, spun and unleashed a fierce low shot that appeared to leave keeper Sean Brennan unsighted in the Dublin goal. The Cuala man got his hurl to the shot, but it deflected off the ash and into his net.
Kilkenny now led by 6 points, with 47 odd minutes on the clock. The hosts hit back with a free, but this was cancelled out immediately when sub Billy Ryan pointed, having only been on the pitch a matter of seconds. Mossy then helped set up a point scoring opportunity for TJ, who split the posts from a central position.
James Madden who had been trying to stem the Cats attack from the off, then went on a powerful run in search of a score. Referee Walsh awarded the Dubs a free when the Ballyboden man was stopped in his tracks. Donal Burke pointed the free.
Any feint hopes of a Dublin comeback were well and truly put to bed with 55 minutes played. Eoin Murphy’s long clearance was diverted into the path of TJ Reid. The Shamrocks legend took the ball and headed towards the home side’s goal. It appeared that Donnacha Ryan had bottled TJ up and thwarted the attack, but Reid held off Ryan’s somewhat illegal attempt to halt him and produced a magnificent batted finish to outsmart keeper Brennan and notch his 27th goal in championship hurling.
Eamonn Dillon popped over a point for the sky blues just about one minute after his introduction, points were not what Mattie Kenny’s charges needed.
The Cats then hit two scores back-to-back, firstly from a TJ Reid free to put the Noresiders nine points to the good. Then Eoin Cody registered his first score of the game with an hour gone, but doubled his tally just 60 seconds later! Adrian Mullen who had been cleverly finding pockets of space all evening, was found nicely by Mikey Carey and rifled over his fourth point of the day.
Moments later, Mullen struck over another well-taken score to make it his 5th, the former Young Hurler of the Year was thoroughly enjoying his midfield role and had given a masterly scoring performance.
The next man in black and amber to raise a flag would be half-time substitute John Donnelly. The Thomastown man struck over a lovely point to push his sides lead out to 14 points. TJ fired over another free to bring his tally for the day to 1-7.
Donal Burke, who had been one of the better boys in blue, encapsulated Dublin’s evening by striking a very scorable free wide of Eoin Murphy’s post. Dicksboro’s Cillian Buckley who had been sprung from the bench during the second half, became the ninth Kilkenny player to get on the score sheet when he hit the 24th point of the day for those in stripes.
It was fitting that the final point of the day came from the hurl of TJ Reid. A monster free from distance by the Shamrocks man made it a double score game as Waterford ref Thomas Walsh blew for full-time and put the home side out of their misery. Final score at Parnell Park, Dublin 0-17, Kilkenny 3-25.
Scorers – Kilkenny: TJ Reid 1-7 (5f); M Keoghan 2-1; A Mullen 0-5; C Kenny 0-4; A Murphy 0-3; E Cody 0-2; B Ryan, J Donnelly, C Buckley 0-1 each.
Scorers – Dublin: D Burke 0-9 (7f); C Burke 0-2; F Whitely, R McBride, C Crummey, D Gray, M Schutte, E Dillon 0-1 each.
Kilkenny: E Murphy; M Butler, C Delaney, T Walsh; M Carey, R Reid, P Deegan; A Mullen, A Murphy; W Walsh, TJ Reid, P Walsh; C Kenny, M Keoghan, E Cody. Substitutes: J Donnelly for W Walsh (h/t); B Ryan for P Walsh (48); C Fogarty for A Murphy (59); C Buckley for Mullen (65); D Blanchfield for Butler (67).
Dublin: S Brennan; J Madden, E O’Donnell, C O’Callaghan; D Ryan, P Smyth, D Gray; C Burke, C Crummey; D Sutcliffe, R McBride, D Burke; F Whitely, R Hayes, A Mellett. Substitutes: M Schutte for Mellett (32); E Dillon for Hayes (55); A Dunphy for Gray (59); J Bellew for O’Donnell (63); D Keogh for McBride (65).
Referee: T Walsh (Waterford)
>> SHERRY SAYS…..
Dublin undone yet again by the masterful Cats. It seems to be a pattern. The men from the capital going well and seemingly ready to get back to 2013 levels, then Brian Cody comes along and bang, Dubs dismantled.
The four late changes that Mr. Cody made to his starting XV, fully paid off. Mossy’s 2 goal salvo will rightly have gotten the headlines, but the 0-4 that Cian Kenny notched were just as important in this win for the Noresiders.
A special mention for Alan Murphy. The Glenmore man had an outstanding league for the Cats, and hasn’t let his manager down when called upon in the provincial championship. His robust approach and all-action style were invaluable in Parnell Park.
Martin Keoghan was given the MOTM award by many pundits, but he was in good company in Donnycarney. TJ’s 1-7 will have done him no harm at all, but his ability to pick out Mossy for the second goal was classy.
Sticking with the Shamrocks, Adrian Mullen. What a game he had last weekend. His 0-5, all from play were a joy to see. This could be a big summer for Adrian.
The defence, minus Huw Lawlor provided plenty of protection to Eoin Murphy’s goal. Good omens.
UPMC Nowlan Park will see Darragh Eagan’s Wexford roll into town this weekend. Brian Cody’s message to his panel will be quite simple. Just win it.