Kilkenny see Dublin’s challenge and raise it to start with a bang

Brian Cody’s side lift their intensity in the last quarter to win comfortably at Parnell Park

Kilkenny 1-20 Dublin 0-18

There’s a decent chance that the fresh threat of serious sanctions for cynical play aided Kilkenny when it came to shrugging off a determined Dublin.

Faced with two Dublin players - James Madden and Paddy Smyth - after picking up possession on the endline, Kilkenny’s Martin Keoghan opted to run directly between the defending pair before getting his goal shot away for the game breaking 61st minute goal.

Ordinarily, Keoghan would probably have been pulled down, yielding a likely yellow card for the Dublin player and a Kilkenny point from a free.


But the considerable threat of a penalty and sin binning surely weighed on both Dublin players’ minds and Keoghan profited by continuing on his run for the goal.

That moved Kilkenny from one to four points ahead having been tied at 0-16 to 0-16 minutes earlier at the second water break.

Yet asked afterwards about the new rule, Kilkenny manager Brian Cody, at the start of his 23rd season in charge of the Cats, wasn't overly enthusiastic about the quest to halt cynical play.

“I don’t know, the media will have to check out that one because they seem to think there’s a whole lot of it going on,” said Cody. “I don’t know, I don’t see any cynical fouls, no there wasn’t (in the game).

“Look, we can’t afford to get our heads twisted with ‘cynical fouls, you can’t do this, you can’t do that’. Players go out to play as they play.

“It’s there now, the rule is there now and we’re just going to get on with it. There was no semblance of it there today, that’s for sure.”

Cody was more effusive in his praise for his players who, like Dublin, delivered a solid overall display just 19 days after being permitted to return to collective training.

“Physically, they lasted the pace fairly well and their hurling was decent,” said the 11-time All-Ireland winning manager. “But the thing I liked most was the attitude, top class I thought.”

Cody made a point during the second water break of demanding an increase in intensity and workrate. His team were heavily outscored in the second halves of Championship games against Waterford and Dublin last season so beating Dublin by 1-4 to 0-2 from that water stoppage would have delighted him.

Adrian Mullen’s return was welcome too, the Ballyhale man playing his first inter-county game since early 2020 due to a cruciate lay-off. The new captain lined out and played until half-time.

“Everybody out there had played a full club championship and a full inter-county championship but Adrian has played no hurling except maybe four sessions with us over 14 months,” said Cody.

It was a real downer, however, for Richie Leahy who pulled up with another hamstring problem after just 11 minutes.

“Desperate for Richie, I feel so sorry for Richie Leahy,” said Cody. “There’s nobody who trains better than Richie, nobody has more honesty and effort and everything else. He’s a terrific player. He’s having hardship with both hamstrings. But Richie will grind his teeth and come back.”

Cody confirmed that Richie Hogan, Conor Delaney and Walter Walsh, all unavailable on Saturday, won’t be back for Sunday’s hosting of Antrim.

“We’re hoping possibly the following weekend that we’ll have a few lads coming back,” he said.

Dublin manager Mattie Kenny continued with Chris Crummey in attack and the towering former half-back impressed in patches, along with Liam Rushe, Eoghan O'Donnell and Danny Sutcliffe. Rushe's eventual dismissal for his second booking in the 66th minute ultimately helped Kilkenny to turn the screw.

“Overall what we were looking for was to get out there and get a really good match into us and we got that,” said Kenny “It was a good quality game for the first game of the year.”

Kilkenny: E Murphy; C Wallace, H Lawlor, P Deegan; D Corcoran (0-1), P Walsh (0-2), C Browne; C Buckley (0-1), R Leahy; J Donnelly (0-2), A Mullen, M Keoghan (1-4); J Bergin (0-2), TJ Reid (0-7, six frees, one 65), E Cody. Subs: R Reid for Leahy (11 min), J Maher for Mullen (ht), M Carey for Buckley (56 min), A Murphy (0-1) for Bergin 60.

Dublin: S Brennan; A Dunphy (0-1), E O'Donnell, P Smyth; S Moran, L Rushe, D Gray (0-1); C Burke, J Madden; D Sutcliffe (0-2), C Crummey (0-2), R Hayes; D Burke (0-7, 5f, 1 65), E Dillon (0-1), D Keogh (0-1). Subs: R McBride for Moran (42 min), C Boland (0-1) for Keogh (45), C O'Sullivan for D Burke (61), J Malone for C Burke (64), D Treacy (0-2, two frees) for Hayes (71), P O'Dea for Madden (71), O O'Rorke for Dillon (73).

Referee: J Keenan (Wicklow).