Kilkenny turn up the heat and burn Dublin away

Enthralling first half contest is ended by scoring blitz just after break

Dublin’s Eoghan O’Donnell in action against Kilkenny’s  TJ Reid during the  Leinster SHC semi-final at  O’Moore Park in  Portlaoise. Photograph:  Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Dublin’s Eoghan O’Donnell in action against Kilkenny’s TJ Reid during the Leinster SHC semi-final at O’Moore Park in Portlaoise. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

 

Kilkenny 1-25 Dublin 0-16

Strangest thing. For the opening half, this was the game of the summer. Ten minutes after the break, it was a turkey shoot. Kilkenny just came out and ended the argument by scoring six points in six minutes and followed up with Jonjo Farrell’s goal before Dublin could get their bearings. What had been a genuine contest just dissolved into the same old ding-dong.

Kilkenny won this as they liked in the end. They got Michael Fennelly and Paul Murphy back onto the pitch and saw bravura performances from them both. Farrell put up his hand to be this year’s Ger Aylward with a relentless 1-5 from play. They could even afford a pre-game injury to Jackie Tyrrell and a sloppy second half from TJ Reid and still be in hammocks long before the end.

They won by 12 points but really the more relevant scoreline is what the second half threw up. After going in just a point ahead at the break, Brian Cody’s side won the second half by 1-13 to 0-5. They blew Dublin away with a show of intensity and muscularity that Ger Cunningham’s side just couldn’t match.

By the end, it was hard to believe that the game had been so compelling early on. But it really was. For the first time this summer, we saw hurling worth shifting in your seat for. It would be wrong to say both sides dispensed with systems but they’re were definitely damn few hiding places around O’Moore Park. This was a night for getting out in front and getting your hand in the air. If in doubt, win your own ball and ask questions later.

To put a fine point on it, Kilkenny dictated terms and Dublin’s success or failure was always going to be predicted on being able to meet them. Shane Barrett dropped an anvil on Walter Walsh after 90 seconds just to serve notice that they wouldn’t be holding back. In the pile-up that followed, Chris Crummy and Michael Fennelly clanked into each other. This was never going to be delicate.

And for the whole of that first half, Dublin held serve. Kilkenny were pressing up on Conor Dooley’s puck-outs and making life impossible for him – certainly Dublin’s short puck-out tactic that had served them well all through the league wasn’t long going out the window. But to their credit, Cunningham’s side kept finding a way to move the scoreboard.

David Treacy and TJ Reid swapped mirroring frees right the way through. When Michael Fennelly and Farrell pushed Kilkenny four clear with smart points from play, Dotsy O’Callaghan and a couple of Treacy frees closed the gap.

Colin Fennelly and Farrell extended the lead again, and when Pádraig Walsh made the score 0-12 to 0-8 three minutes short of the break, it looked like Kilkenny might stretch away. But with Ryan O’Dwyer causing trouble at full forward, a string of points from Daire Plunkett, Eamon Dillon and another Treacy free left only a point in it at the break.

But then Kilkenny did what Kilkenny do and Dublin had no answer. Out came Cody’s men and just washed the game away. Reid pointed a free, Farrell stitched one from the sideline, Reid got in between two Dublin defenders to float one from play before Walter Walsh rattled over two on the bounce.

The game was over in a hurry. Dublin were gasping for breath at this point. They couldn’t get a puck-out beyond midfield, they could find more than an eyeblink on the ball. They got horsed out of it at every turn and Kilkenny just motored away.

Farrell’s goal came on 47 minutes, the corner forward beating Oisín Gough to the ball, turning and shooting off his left into the bottom corner. It made the score 1-19 to 0-11 and reduced the rest of the night to a training match.

Kilkenny are just fine, thanks for asking. How’s everybody else doing?

DUBLIN: Conor Dooley; Eoghan O’Donnell, Cian O’Callaghan, Oisin Gough; Shane Barrett, Liam Rushe, Chris Crummey; Darragh O’Connell, Johnny McCaffrey; Daire Plunkett (0-1), Niall McMorrow, David Treacy (0-11, 0-10 frees); Ryan O’Dwyer, David O’Callaghan (0-2), Eamon Dillon (0-1).

Subs: Paul Ryan (0-1) for O’Dwyer (half-time); Oisin O’Rorke for McMorrow, (46 mins); Niall Corcoan for Gough (50 mins); Sean Treacy for Barrett (57 mins); Chris Bennett for O’Callaghan (70 mins).

KILKENNY: Eoin Murphy; Paul Murphy, Joey Holden, Rob Lennon; Pádraig Walsh (0-1), Kieran Joyce, Cillian Buckley (0-2); Conor Fogarty (0-1), Lester Ryan (0-1); Walter Walsh (0-2), Michael Fennelly (0-2), TJ Reid (0-10, seven frees, one 65); Jonjo Farrell (1-5), Colin Fennelly (0-1), Eoin Larkin.

Subs: Liam Blanchfield for Larkin (52 mins); Kevin Kelly for Ryan (57 mins); Diarmuid Cody for M Fennellly (65 mins).

Referee: Brian Gavin (Offaly).

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