Kilkenny retain Leinster minor hurling title with late surge against Dublin
Substitutes Edmund Delaney and Conor Hennessy seal victory with late points
Kilkenny minor team celebrates with the trophy after defeating Dublin in the Leinster final at Croke Park. Photograph: Inpho
A late surge saw Kilkenny defend their provincial title after narrowly overcoming Dublin in their Electric Ireland Leinster minor hurling championship final at Croke Park on Sunday.
After the sides traded early frees through Matthew Oliver and Andrew Gaffney, the holders seized the initiative in the sixth minute when Tadhg O’Dwyer was afforded too much room when slipping past Eoin Foley to fire emphatically beyond Eoin Skelly.
Dublin were struggling to make an impact in attack during these early promptings although Oliver’s accuracy from placed balls ensured they remained competitive before Fergal Whitely landed their first point from play in the 15th minute.
Joey Cuddihy struck a glorious point for Kilkenny a minute later but Dublin began to find their collective feet with the impeccable Oliver bringing them level with three successive frees.
Crucially, Kilkenny regained a degree of authority as the half drew to a close with two excellent points by John Donnelly handing them a narrow 1-7 to 0-8 interval lead.
Despite their opponents responding like champions through two Gaffney frees and Richie Leahy’s fine score, Dublin dominated the subsequent seven minutes with Oliver and Eoghan Conroy landing a brace apiece.
However, with Richie Leahy coming to the fore for Kilkenny in the closing stages, Dublin struggled for primary possession with Delaney and Hennessy landing the decisive scores at the death.
KILKENNY: S Murphy; M Cody, T Walsh, C McGrath; D Mullen, D Joyce, C Doheny; R Leahy (0-4, two frees), J Connolly (0-1); D O’Connor (0-1), T O’Dwyer (1-0), J Donnelly (0-2); A Gaffney (0-5, five frees), J Cuddihy (0-1), N Walsh.
Subs: E Delaney (0-2) for N Walsh (42 mins), C Hennessy (0-1) for Gaffney (47 mins), B Sheehan for Donnelly (53 mins).
DUBLIN: E Skelly; C Hendricken, C Brady, D Butler; E Foley, P Smyth, D Butler; M Oliver (0-10, nine frees, one 65), C Sammon; E Conroy (0-2), M Maguire, F Whitely (0-1); E Dunne, D Burke (0-1), C Burke.
Subs: C O’Sullivan for Brady (30 mins), A Considine (1-1) for C Burke (h-t), A Mellett for Maguire (41 mins), C Dowling for Sammon (49 mins), D Gray for Butler (58 mins).
Referee: Michael Murtagh (Wsetmeath)