BY NIALL SHERRY
Cats find their range in Dubs demolition
Allianz National Hurling League Division 1B
Round 4, UPMC Nowlan Park
Kilkenny put Dublin to the sword last Sunday with an impressive shooting display at UPMC Nowlan Park, as Galmoy’s Billy Drennan had another fine game in the black and amber, finishing the day with 0-13 to his name, with five wonderful points from play in the young attacking star’s total.
A brace of majors in the second half from captain Eoin Cody ensured that the Cats romped home by 11 points on a bitterly cold March afternoon on Noreside as the Shamrocks Ballyhale man notched 2-2 as a hungrier and more determined home side deservedly took maximum points from this round four encounter.
Dublin battled better in the second period, but a sloppy first half left them too much to do after the short whistle. As ever, Na Fianna’s Donal Burke was star of the show from the metropolitans, hitting 0-11, including some classy points from play in his display.
There was just one change to the Kilkenny starting line-up, with Cillian Buckley coming in for his Dicksboro club mate, Evan Cody. Dublin lined out as selected.
The visitors almost got off to the perfect start I the first minute when Eoin Murphy’s attempted clearance was blocked down by Alex Considine, but the Kilmacud man’s shot only found the side netting. From the restart, referee Johnny Murphy spotted some holding going on in the Dublin defence and signaled for the free. Billy Drennan stepped up and slotted over what would be the first of 13 scores for the day.
Drennan then found himself on the left and picked up possession before scanning and finding the unmarked Paddy Mullan at the top of the ‘D’. The Shamrocks man had time to recover from a slip, before splitting the posts for the home side. Just a minute later, Padraig Walsh operating at corner back, then struck over a fantastic long-range point to put the Cats 3 nil up after just four minutes of play.
Limerick whistler Murphy then adjudged Kilkenny to have touched the ball on the ground and this call gave Donal Burkle his first opportunity of the game and the Na Fianna man made no mistake in opening his sides account at UPMC Nowlan Park. Graigue Ballycallan’s Billy Ryan then hit the second ‘sighter’ from play with a booming effort, as the home crowd sensed the hunger in their teams play. O’Loughlin’s Paddy Deegan, operating in the half-forward line then went on a great run, showing skill, strength and power, before being fouled. Drennan rifled over the free to leave the Cats 4 points clear.
The boys in blue then got a sideline cut all wrong and Billy Drennan punished the error by splitting the posts for a nice point. From the restart, Kilkenny won the ball and Drennan rifled over from some 70 metres, much to the delight of the home faithful. The visitors won another free out on the left and Donal Burke duly popped it over for his and his team’s second score of the game after 15 minutes of action.
Eoin Cody, who was roaming all over the Nowlan Park pitch, was then crudely upended as he burst clear of a couple of Dublin markers and Billy Drennan slotted the placed ball. There was a touch of frustration in that tackle, and more was to follow. Paddy Mullen then got sandwiched between a couple of sky blues and some hands were raised after the ref sounded his whistle for the free. The result of this shemozzle was yellow cards for both Paddy Mullen and Dublin centre-forward Danny Sutcliffe.
The next score was one of the best engineered on the day. Kilkenny worked the ball out of defence and a lovely pass down the left sideline found Billy Drennan who showed great skill and composure to split the posts to increase the home side’s lead to 7 points. Dublin were then forced into a change when Na Fianna’s Sean Currie left the field to be replaced by Lucan’s Paul Crummey.
Micheál Donoghue’s side needed scores and they got a nice point from Alex Considine from way out on the left. Billy Drennan then benefited from a clever knock down and galloped away from the Dublin defence and struck over another fine point from out on the left side. A long ball deep into the Kilkenny defence saw Dublin full-forward Cian O’Sullivan booked for making contact with Cats netminder Eoin Murphy’s face. The Glenmore man required medical attention before play resumed. Oliver Plunkett’s Cian Boland then showed great strength before firing over a lovely point. Billy Drennan then slotted over two monster free’s from distance to restore order for the home side.
The next Kilkenny score came from great interplay between Mossy Keoghan and Paddy Deegan, which resulted in the latter striking over a fine point. Kilmacud’s Alex Considine then showed great battling qualities in beating two men in black and amber before rifling over from a tight angle. Dublin followed this point up with another, this time from the recently booked midfielder Chris O’Leary who continued the trend of stunning long-range scores. Eoin Cody then set up a chance for The Village’s Cian Kenny who obliged by firing over from out on the right.
Derek Lyng’s charges then hit the next three points on the bounce. The first two were outrageous scores from their own half by Paddy Deegan and this was followed up by another quality strike, The Sash’s Padraig Walsh with his second of the day. Captain Eoin Cody then fired over from a very tight angle despite being put under fierce pressure. St Brigid’s Cian O’Sullivan then slotted over to reduce the deficit to 10 points. The men from the Capital then almost raised a green flag. Substitute Paul Crummey cut in from the endline before striking a fierce shot that Cats keeper Eoin Murphy did well to turn behind for a ‘65. Donal Burke was successful from the resulting ‘65 and the short whistle sounded with Kilkenny 9 points to the good, 0-17 to 0-8.
When the Cats emerged from the home changing room, they had made two changes. St Lachtains Darren Brennan was in for Eoin Murphy while Walter Walsh replaced Mossy Keoghan.
Donal Burke got the opening score of the second period, again from the placed ball, before his nemesis, Bily Drennan did likewise for the home side after Eoin Cody was again halted illegally. Richie Reid then took a fine catch before striding forward. As the Shamrocks man popped the pass off, he was crudely obstructed by wing-back Daire Gray, who joined those on yellow cards. Billy Drennan popped over the free and the lead was out to 10 points.
The first of two Kilkenny goals then arrived after 44 minutes of action. Conor Fogarty found Paddy Deegan who picked out Eoin Cody with a lovely pass and this season’s captain made no mistake in refiling past Dublin keeper, Eddie Gibbons. Donal Burke then dispatched a fine strike from distance, but you felt that Dublin would have needed 10 more ‘Donal Burke’s’ to halt the Cats dominance.
Dicksboro’s Timmy Clifford was then introduced in place of Shamrocks Paddy Mullen, a move which saw Paddy Deegan switch to the engine room. Billy Drennan then intercepted a Dublin pass and punished the error by slotting over. Richie Reid then found Paddy Deegan and the O’Loughlin’s action man fired over another quality score.
The visitors then struck for goal in the 48th minute. A long ball into the Kilkenny defence saw Paul Crummey gather possession and head for goal. The Lucan man cut-in along the endline before creating an angle to rifle his shot past Darren Brennan in the Cats goal. Micheál Donoghue’s charges had their tails up and got the next score, again from the free-taking exploits of Donal Burke. The gap was back to 11-points. Burke repeated this feat shortly after, when Timmy Clifford was yellow carded for a slap on his opponent’s arm.
Billy Drennan then showed he was human when he missed his first placed ball of the afternoon. Then came the final ‘major’ nail in the Dublin coffin. Billy Ryan was fouled from behind and as the Dublin defence jogged into position, Ryan took the free quickly having seen Eoin Cody make a clever run through the middle of the ‘D’. Cody collected the pass, twisted and turned away from his marker, before firing past Kilmacud’s Gibbons.
Micheál Donoghue was then shown a yellow card by ref Johnny Murphy to ironic cheers from the home crowd. His talisman Burke fired over another free, before Kilkenny made two further changes, with Ronan Corcoran replacing Conor Fogarty and Bennettsbridge’s David Blanchfield coming on for the impressive Cillian Buckley who hobbled off the Nowlan Park pitch. Donal Burke and Eoin Cody then swapped points, both really classy efforts, as the crowd in attendance were treated to some stunning scores.
Billy Ryan and John Donnelly then tagged on two further stunning points, The Thomastown mans in particular, a sumptuous score. The Dubs hit the next three scores, two from Donal Burke and a second point of the day from Cian Boland. Cats Captain Eoin Cody and Dublin defender Paddy Smyth were then shown yellow cards for a bout of wrestling and holding, the Shamrocks player’s jersey in a bad way after the tussle. The Clontarf player then lost control and picked up a second yellow card moments later, meaning he spent the last couple of minutes in the dugout.
Fittingly, it would be Galmoy’s Billy Drennan that struck the final score of an entertaining game to bring his tally to 0-13. Johnny Murphy brought matters to a close with the home side running out 11-point winners on a scoreline of Kilkenny 2-25, Dublin 1-17.
Kilkenny Scorers: Billy Drennan 0-13 (8fs), Eoin Cody 2-2, Paddy Deegan 0-3, Billy Ryan 0-2, Padraig Walsh 0-2, Cian Kenny 0-1, Paddy Mullen 0-1, John Donnelly 0-1.
Dublin Scorers: Donal Burke 0-11 (6fs, 1 65), Paul Crummey 1-0, Alex Considine 0-2, Cian Boland 0-2, Cian O’Sullivan 0-1, Chris O’Leary 0-1.
Kilkenny: Eoin Murphy; Tommy Walsh, Conor Delaney, Padraig Walsh; Cian Kenny, Richie Reid, Cillian Buckley; Conor Fogarty, Paddy Mullen; Billy Ryan, John Donnelly, Paddy Deegan; Billy Drennan, Martin Keoghan, Eoin Cody.
Subs: Darren Brennan for Murphy (HT), Walter Walsh for Keoghan (HT), Timmy Clifford for Mullen (45), Ronan Corcoran for Fogarty (59), David Blanchfield for Buckley (61).
Dublin: Eddie Gibbons; Andy Dunphy, Eoghan O’Donnell, Paddy Smyth; Conor Donohoe, Conor Burke, Daire Gray; Ronan Smith, Chris O’Leary; Donal Burke, Danny Sutcliffe, Cian Boland; Sean Currie, Cian O’Sullivan, Alex Considine.
Subs: Paul Crummey for Currie (20), Paddy Doyle for Smith (45), Diarmuid O’Dulaing for O’Sullivan (51), John Bellew for Dunphy (53), David Keogh for Sutcliffe (64).
Referee: Johnny Murphy (Limerick).
>> SHERRY SAYS…
A comprehensive 11-point victory for Kilkenny over the men from the Capital. From start to finish, this was a pretty good performance from Derek Lyng’s charges. Eoin Cody’s 2 goal salvo was superb. This year’s captain was clearly targeted by the Dublin defence and was unlucky not to win a few more free’s across the 70-odd minutes of action.
Padraig Walsh, Paddy Deegan, Richie Reid and Cillian Buckley all had impressive games for the Cats. Walsh and Deegan were warriors throughout, while Richie snuffed out danger and swept up nicely across the back line. Cillian Buckley did lots of good work and covered lots of ground quietly and efficiently. Let’s hope that the injury sustained isn’t serious.
Billy Drennan has been nothing short of sensational since joining the senior ranks this season. Racking up 0-13 against the Dubs was yet more great experience for the Galmoy youngster. 99% perfect from the placed ball, Drennan also showed his worth in open play with a couple of fine points.
The story of the day was some fantastic long-range shooting from both sides, with the afore mentioned Deegan and Padraig Walsh striking over beautiful efforts from deep inside their own half.
One more round of this season’s Allianz Hurling League remaining. We have the visit of the Deise to look forward to. Derek Lyng will be keen to keep the momentum going and hopefully secure another vital win as we build towards the championship.
Don’t forget, TJ Reid, Adrian Mullen, Huw Lawlor and Mikey Butler amongst others could come into the starting XV.
Let’s finish the league with a win over Waterford and we can then assess where we are. Things are ticking along nicely.