Kilkenny in dominant form for Dublin


Dublin 1-16 Louth 0-8CIARÁN KILKENNY wrote this report. From start to finish. Others contributed in ensuring last year’s Leinster under-21 success by Wexford is just a memory, but it was Kilkenny who dominated on the scoreboard and that’s what always counts.

This win secured Dublin’s 10th provincial title at the age grade and third in four years. Such is the way of things in the capital nowadays that even in the aftermath, all these young men were thinking about was the ultimate prize. “This is step four of six,” said captain Kevin O’Brien from the podium, before the now obligatory: “See you all in Coppers!”

There was plenty of talent on view last night that could be promoted by Pat Gilroy before the summer is out. Kilkenny may still be in school, but he looks even more effective at this level than he did at minor last year. Like most people his age, there is a job waiting for him in Australia.

If he wants it.

Hopefully, Gilroy can convince him otherwise. Gary Sweeney is another quality attacker that might well be a senior panellist sooner rather than later.

Any notion of Louth causing an upset was dismissed in the opening exchanges when Kilkenny got a touch on Mark Schutte’s dropping shot. Paul Hudson and Gary Sweeney points had Dublin 1-2 to 0-1 moments later. After that, they were in cruise control.

Granted, seven Dublin wides and some neat striking by Ben Rogan kept Louth in touching distance for 20 minutes. Then Kilkenny found his range.

When he wasn’t fielding torpedoes or picking out a team-mate with his foot passing (the radar was faulty once or twice) he was finding the target. The prodigious Leaving Cert student landed a fine score off his right boot on 25 minutes just seconds after landing one from the same angle off his left.

Jack McCaffrey made it a five-point deficit immediately after Paul Hudson’s goal-bound shot was well blocked. McCaffrey’s gliding raids from wing back give him the look of another underage star with the capabilities to make the transition up to senior in the next year or so.

Hudson scored next to make it 1-7 to 0-4 at the turn.

Louth returned to the field energised, perhaps sensing Dublin’s wayward shooting in the opening half would continue, with Hamilton’s quick score allowing their supporters to clear their throat.

Kilkenny rammed any delusions of competition down that very same passage a minute later.

Rogan hit over a free next, but that was it. Four more points, one a free, followed from the Castleknock man who has been tracked by the Carlton Blues in Australia.

The contract is supposedly on the table waiting for signature. If the video of this match gets seen by the other clubs Down Under a bidding war is sure to commence.

It’s that rare sight; a footballer playing in a hectic provincial decider yet making it look like a training session. He has so much time in possession, with the most delicate of control off either foot. And, most importantly for the professionals, he has hang time – the ability to hold the peak of his leap longer than taller men. Really, his 1-2 before half-time killed the game. The five points after the interval decided by how many.

“I think we may be looking at not only at the Leinster champions but the All-Ireland champions in a couple of months’ time,” said Martin Skelly, chairman of the Leinster Council as he handed the cup over to O’Brien.

Before the match, the sponsors asked those in the press box to nominate man of the match before the finish. A gang of cheeky Dublin reporters said in unison, “Ciarán Kilkenny”.

And so it proved.

A potentially great player just had a truly great night.

DUBLIN: JB Carthy; S George, K O’Brien (capt), M Concarr; L Fletcher, J Kelly, J McCaffrey (0-1); E Ó Conghaile, C Reddin; M Schutte (0-2), G Sweeney (0-1), D Byrne; C Kilkenny (1-7, 0-1f), P Hudson (0-2), P Ryan. Subs: G Seaver (0-2) for D Byrne, H Dawson (0-1) for P Ryan (both half-time); J Small for M Concarr (45 mins), P Maguire for P Hudson (50); E Keogh for E Ó Conghaile (56).

LOUTH: J Flanagan; D Campbell, C Murray, T Hand; P Reilly, An Williams, M McKeown; E O’Connor (capt), S O’Hanlon; C Bellew (0-1), P Kirwan, R Moore (0-1); B Rogan (0-4, 4f), W Woods (0-1), B Hamilton (0-1). Subs: B Berrill for C Bellew (37 mins); E Duffy for P Kirwan (42); S McMahon for P Reilly (49); S Donnelly for B Hamilton (51).

Referee: F Kelly (Longford).

Next Up . . .

The All-Ireland semi-finals are fixed for Saturday, April 21st – with Dublin taking on the Munster champions (Kerry host Cork in their provincial decider in Tralee next Wednesday).

The Connacht winners (Roscommon host Sligo this Saturday in the decider) will meet the Ulster winners. The final is on May 5th.