Masterful Kilkenny serves Dublin a deadly reminder of quality

Not for the first time, Kilkenny ruined Dublin’s Championship plans, overpowering Mattie Kenny’s side on a fine summer’s evening at Parnell Park.

he small ground was sold ahead of a close contest, with Dublin starting the day unbeaten and leading the day in the group. But after a thrilling and competitive first half, they were totally subdued until the finish.

Kilkenny suffered from a narrow defeat at Salthill and while it’s nothing new to see them bring a determined demeanor to any challenge, there was real venom and purpose in their play after half-time. Led by a Mossy Keoghan at the break, they won the second half 2-14 to 0-6. That says a lot about their superiority.

With Wexford losing a point at Westmeath, only Galway’s pitchers are guaranteed to survive beyond the group stages. But Dublin travel to Salthill next Saturday facing a major task trying to rally spirits after that emphatic defeat. Kilkenny will host Wexford on the same day and look set to reach the Leinster final and stay on course for a third straight provincial win.

Keoghan was one of four late changes to their squad and all of them thrived. The Tullaro man justified his inclusion with 2-1, his first goal coming in the 28th minute when the teams were tied, having shared 18 points. They had been tied six times in a harrowing contest full of unwavering hard knocks, with Padraig Walsh picking up a yellow card near the interval.

Keoghan earned a deliciously stolen delivery from Adrian Mullen and sent his shot past Sean Brennan for his first goal. Dublin rallied with scores from Donal Burke and Rian McBride, but Kilkenny closed the half with points from Alan Murphy and Keoghan to lead 1-11 to 0-11. He could have more but for seven widths and a failed attempt there was no sign of Dublin’s collapse to follow.

Conor Burke and Chris Crummey provided three of Dublin’s 11 points in the first half and Daire Gray hit an inspiring tally, as did Fergal Whitely but, worryingly, they could pose no goal threat, Ronan Hayes n not having much impact and often adrift. field. Before half-time, Aidan Mellet was taken off, with Mark Schutte coming on to add more muscle. Burke had five of their scores, including two in play.

From there, Kilkenny stormed off. In the first half, Cian Kenny, another of their late inclusions, scored three points playing in the inside forward line and shortly after the break took his tally to four. The move caught Dublin completely off guard, but the goals were the real difference in their timing, filling Kilkenny with more confidence.

At one point, TJ Reid fired a shot for a daring distance goal that smelt of pride, but in that moment he could afford leniency as his team coasted. He finished the game 1-7, four points clear.

Dublin got lost in the blizzard. In the second half, McBride forced a save on Eoin Murphy, while James Madden fired a low shot across goal, but they couldn’t make any progress against an outstanding Kilkenny defence, missing Huw Lawlor through injury. Conor Delaney came in and kept the reins tight on Hayes while Mikey Butler had a wonderful game, Tommy Walsh equally ruthless shutting out Dublin’s attack.

Having fallen five points behind at the start of the second half, two goals from Donal Burke left Dublin one goal behind with 11 minutes played. But a minute later Keoghan scored his second goal after initial work from TJ Reid, Keoghan spinning and shooting low towards the net from around 20m. In the 54th minute, Reid scored his third goal as the Dublin defense failed to follow their run, and the rest was a painful wait until the whistle for the home fans.

Alan Murphy and Richie Reid were also called up to the starting lineup, and Murphy capitalized on his opportunity by scoring three points in the first half and putting in a huge shift. Alongside him, Adrian Mullen has returned to his old form, which will greatly encourage Kilkenny, with the Ballyale man scoring five game points, with some exemplary long-range strikes. Worryingly for Wexford, Eoin Cody had a relatively quiet evening and didn’t register until almost an hour into the game. Walter Walsh was taken off at halftime and Padraig Walsh followed him in the 48th minute.

Dublin’s best hurling came in the first half with Conor Burke playing well and contributing two points, as they were one game against their rivals, whom they last beat in the Championship in 2013. When these counties met in the league, Kilkenny inflicted one of those defeats on Dublin that seemed like an affront to consider the result could have been otherwise.

But Dublin came to this with the hope of leaving a marker and in the fourth year of Mattie Kenny’s reign there was a feeling they could. There was definitely a feeling that they needed it. They’re on the ground, but they haven’t come out. Kilkenny, after losing in Galway, are back on track.

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 apiece. Dublin: D Burke 0-9 (7f); C Burke 0-2; F Whitely, R McBride, C Crummey, D Gray, M Schutte, E Dillon 0-1 apiece.

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. Replacements: J Donnelly for W Walsh (ht); 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; Dr Sutcliffe, R McBride, Dr Burke; F Whitely, R Hayes, A Mellett. Replacements: 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).

Arbitrator: T. Walsh (Waterford)

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