Kilkenny 0-24 Dublin 1-9
Reconstructed, slightly remodelled but the interior of these Kilkenny hurlers looks much the same. Defeat to Dublin, and Cork, last year prompted Brian Cody into change.
He changed his selectors and he changed certain presumptions we had all got very comfortable with. Names like Henry Shefflin and Tommy Walsh are no longer sacrosanct. No longer certain of a jersey.
These great men were togged yesterday but watched this Leinster final from the second row of the Kilkenny section.
Shefflin began warming up after 52 minutes, finally putting some weight on that metatarsal. Took a sup of water from Mick Dempsey, Kilkenny's big Laois man, before Cody turned to impart a few words.
When he ran in for Walter Walsh there had been no score for eight minutes.
Dublin, trailing by five points, scrambled a Kilkenny attack away for a 65 but Shefflin wasn’t needed for that either. TJ Reid’s domain now.
Things have changed yet they look the same. Title number 69, 2013 champions dethroned. Old order restored by newer faces.
A crowd of 32,567 eventually sounded like a few hundred. Shefflin did rustle the greatest roar from them in the 67th minute. Two points, one from the right, the other from the left made it an 11-point gap.
But it felt bloodless, sometimes this happens and nobody knows why.
There were weird, unusual happenings in Croke Park this afternoon.
Take the Brian Hogan point as an example. Eoin Larkin hooked a lethargic Danny Sutcliffe before Hogan struck from deep. Or Dotsie O'Callaghan back in defence nipping the ball off Reid to deny a certain goal for Kilkenny's chief assassin.
Dublin got lucky. Their patent lack of intensity was not punished by Kilkenny goals. It’s always low Kilkenny that get you in a close game.
This wasn't one of them. Instead Colm Cronin peeled off Jackie Tyrrell for the game's only goal on 21 minutes. The Cuala hurler even duffed the shot but it trickled under David Herity.
Hurling's supposedly fading empire did muster 13 points in the opening 35 minutes. Dublin were clinging on mainly because Colin Fennelly, of all people, couldn't link up with Larkin after the latter harassed Shane Durkin into a hospital pass to Peter Kelly. Larkin blocked Kelly's attempted clearance – this being the best example of a lack of blood or guts in Dublin's approach – and the sliotar tumbled into Fennelly's path only for his failure to create under pressure.
Odd meekness from one of the hurlers of the year so far.
So Dublin survived. O'Callaghan and Cronin points left a green flag between the armies until the always busy Richie Hogan's howitzer of a free from his own territory. Then Fennelly, having recovered from the earlier misdemeanour and having shook off the attentions of Dublin's midfield and Liam Rushe, procured a pretty point.
That and 0-7 from TJ Reid stretched their clear. Sutcliffe rifled one back for Dublin but as they disappeared under the Hogan Stand it felt like old times. Kilkenny would re-emerge and batter Dublin into submission.
We have seen their hurricane before.
It was more subtle than that. A Fennelly point followed quickly by a couple from Pádraig Walsh was as good as any goal.
Dublin went back to the source of so much of their happiness – Dotsie and Conal Keaney – but Tyrrell was waiting. First he disposed O’Callaghan then, along with others, forced Keaney to the end line and stood him up. Free out. Tyrrell punctured the sky with his fists.
That, it turned out, was the game. Tyrrell knew.
Old Kilkenny, new Kilkenny, all the same Kilkenny.
Anthony Daly clearly had enough. Unfit for service, Sutcliffe followed Joey Boland to dry land. They did bring it back to five points but the fight was in Kilkenny today. You saw it in blocking of Richie Hogan, the tackling of JJ Delaney, the movement of Brian Hogan.
Not sure if it deserves the title of revenge for Portlaoise a year ago. Revenge comes harder than this. Their minors also skinned the Dubs. Maybe the intensity of Saturday's hurling; Clare's magical revival and the antics of Lar Corbett and Séamus Callanan in Thurles left us wanting more.
We’ll go ask Daly and get back to you. Cody has earned the right to tell us less than he normally does. He loves to speak via his players.
Always has, always will.
DUBLIN: A Nolan; S Durkin, P Kelly, P Schutte; S Hiney, L Rushe, M Carton; J Boland, J McCaffrey; R O'Dwyer, A McCrabbe (0-3, all frees), D Sutcliffe (0-1); D O'Callaghan (0-1), C Keaney (0-1, pen), C Cronin (1-1).
Subs: Conor McCormack (0-1) for O'Dwyer (28 mins); Niall McMorrow for Boland (41 mins); Paul Ryan (0-1) for Sutcliffe (41 mins); David Treacy for Keaney (50 mins); N Corcoran for Schutte (61 mins).
KILKENNY: D Herity; P Murphy, JJ Delaney, J Tyrrell; J Holden, B Hogan (0-1), C Buckley; C Fogarty, R Hogan (0-2, one free); W Walsh (0-1), P Walsh (0-2), TJ Reid (0-10, four frees, four 65s); C Fennelly (0-3), J Power (0-1), Eoin Larkin.
Subs: H Shefflin (0-3) for W Walsh (56 mins); A Fogarty (0-1) for Power (59 mins); Lester Ryan for C Fogarty (69 mins).
Referee: Barry Kelly (Westmeath)