Dublin 0-16 Kilkenny 2-23
With the championship looming and the unseasonably strong sun beating down initially at Parnell Park, this felt a little like summertime hurling.
Certainly the sight of Kilkenny in full swing on a sturdy sod was familiar, though if this encounter was supposed to be played at something near championship pace, Dublin clearly didn’t get the memo.
Six weeks out from the start of the Leinster championship, provincial title-holders Kilkenny purred with efficiency and delivered an impressive display to move top of Division 1B in the Allianz League.
Brian Cody was nonchalant enough afterwards about the performance but it was mightily impressive, with a third quarter burst of scoring pretty much leaving Dublin on the canvas.
Walter Walsh and Martin Keoghan struck those majors and within minutes Kilkenny went from three points ahead to 11 up and that was pretty much that.
In truth, that three-point margin flattered Dublin as they’d trailed 0-11 to 0-5 at half-time and only briefly came alive early in the second half with a three-in-a-row of points.
Mattie Kenny's side can be excused an off day. They were without captain Eoghan O'Donnell, who picked up a knock against Tipperary last weekend, while they're still waiting on the likes of Liam Rushe, Cian Boland and Cian O'Sullivan to make their seasonal returns.
Still, the sizeable crowd that turned out at the north Dublin venue expected better given the hosts’ strong start to 2022.
They’d won six of their previous seven games, yielding Walsh Cup honours, and the win over Tipp seven days ago sent them joint top of the league table.
Now it’s Kilkenny in top spot ahead of the final round of group games on March 20th, the Cats at home to Waterford on that afternoon and Dublin travelling to Laois.
Cody went with a two-man full-forward line of Billy Ryan and Keoghan with Cillian Buckley operating as an extra man around the middle third.
Dublin’s physicality was noticeable against Tipp but they were flat this time and overwhelmed at times by the ferocity and efficiency of the 2021 joint league winners.
Kilkenny jumped all over any Dublin mistake, like Tom Phelan gathering up Donal Burke’s misplaced sideline cut and passing to Walter Walsh, who took off on a solo run and split the posts.
Keoghan set up points for Walsh and Alan Murphy and they deserved their six-point half-time lead.
Interestingly, Kilkenny only made two substitutions all evening and both were injury enforced with Phelan and Cian Kenny hobbling off after knocks.
It didn’t affect the team’s performance as they were considerably better in the second half and finished off Dublin by the three-quarter mark when they’d strode 13 points clear.
Walsh, a decade after scoring a memorable 1-3 on his debut for Kilkenny in the 2012 All-Ireland final replay win over Galway, matched that tally while his namesake, Pádraig, struck 0-4 from centre forward.
Kilkenny had 10 different scorers in total with wing back David Blanchfield booming over three eye-catching scores from long range too. All in all, a good evening for the Cats.
DUBLIN: A Nolan; A Dunphy, S Moran, C O'Callaghan; J Madden, P Smyth, J Bellew; C Burke, C Crummey; D Sutcliffe (0-3), R McBride (0-1), D Burke (0-9, five frees, two 65s); F Whitely, R Hayes (0-2), A Mellett.
Subs: E Dillon for Whitely (46 mins), J Malone for C Burke (51), D Ryan for Moran (52), P Crummey (0-1) for Hayes (59), C Currie for Mellett (61).
KILKENNY: E Murphy; M Butler, H Lawlor, T Walsh; M Carey (0-2), P Deegan, D Blanchfield (0-3); C Kenny (0-1), A Murphy (0-5, four frees); W Walsh (1-3), P Walsh (0-4), T Phelan; B Ryan (0-2), C Buckley (0-1), M Keoghan (1-1).
Subs: J Donnelly (0-1) for Phelan (35 mins), J Maher for Kenny (45).
Referee: P O'Dwyer (Carlow).