Cody hails Kilkenny intensity as they overwhelm Dublin

Intensity of the Cats too much for the Dubs in comfortable win

Kilkenny 3-25 Dublin 0-17

After the misery of Salthill, a Leinster SHC tie against Dublin couldn't have come at a better time for Brian Cody and Kilkenny.

It may have been relatively tight for 50 minutes or so at Parnell Park but Kilkenny always seem to have Dublin's number and happily doled out some more capital punishment.

Dublin's only two defeats in all competitions this year have been to Kilkenny. And the really bad news for them? If they beat Galway next weekend, and Kilkenny take care of business against Wexford, the two counties will meet again in the Leinster final on June 4th.

"Kilkenny came with a real aggressive attitude," acknowledged Dublin manager Mattie Kenny. "They brought a huge intensity."

Brian Cody talked a lot about intensity too after the double scores, 17-point win. For all the subtle stick work of two-goal hero Martin Keoghan – we're thinking here of his sumptuous chop-flick up into his hand before striking his first of two goals – and the enduring excellence of TJ Reid, who struck 1-7, Cody was most impressed by the dogged determination of his team.

“We knew we’d have to have a massive work rate so that’s the most satisfying thing of all, that the work rate was at a very high level,” said the 11-time All-Ireland winning manager.

Asked if it was important to give a statement performance on the back of the loss to Galway, Cody nodded and talked again about mastering the basics of hard graft.

“Yeah, it is important,” said Kilkenny of the need to display bouncebackability. “I suppose we kind of played in a way we’d like to be playing every day we go out, starting with the work rate which was of a very high order and is the starting point and has to be for every game.”

Keoghan’s first goal separated the sides at half-time with Kilkenny 1-11 to 0-11 up. Nothing much changed in the first 10 minutes of the second-half when the teams split six points evenly between them. Then came Keoghan’s second goal, set up by the increasingly influential Reid, and from there the floodgates opened. Kilkenny outscored Dublin by 1-11 to 0-3 after that. They won the second-half by 2-14 to 0-6.

Could this be the spark that ignites their season?

“That remains to be seen,” responded Cody. “It was good but we can’t get carried away thinking we’re sorted now because you’re never sorted. The next challenge is just around the corner.”

Wexford will be fighting for their lives next Saturday evening at Nowlan Park. A defeat will end their summer.

“Ah look, to be honest about it, we’re looking upon things as we’re going to Nowlan Park fighting to stay in the Championship too,” countered Cody. “Regardless of anything, we know the threat, we know the challenge they’ll bring to us. It’s going to be just a massive battle.”

Aside from manic determination, what also made Kilkenny difficult to handle was their new structure. Adrian Mullen and Alan Murphy are best known as score poaching forwards but played, and thrived, at midfield. Cian Kenny, ostensibly a midfielder, started in the full-forward line beside Keoghan and Eoin Cody and had a stormer, scoring 2-1 and setting up plenty more for those around him.

In defence, Paddy Deegan wore number six but played on the wing, allowing Richie Reid to lock down the centre of defence. Behind Reid, Conor Delaney manned full-back superbly in the absence of Huw Lawlor.

All is not lost for Dublin. If they can repeat their final round win over Galway of 2019, they’ll be through to the decider.

Dublin boss Kenny reckoned “the goals kind of killed us” on Saturday but he hasn’t much time to dwell on their first defeat of the campaign.

“There’s four teams left in it now,” said Kenny. “Some teams are trying to qualify for the Leinster final, some teams are trying to qualify to stay in the competition. It’s all going down to the last day again.”

Kilkenny: E Murphy; M Butler, C Delaney, T Walsh; M Carey, R Reid, P Deegan; A Mullen (0-5), A Murphy (0-3); W Walsh, TJ Reid (1-7, 0-5f), P Walsh; C Kenny (0-4), M Keoghan (2-1), E Cody (0-2). Subs: J Donnelly (0-1) for W Walsh (h/t), B Ryan (0-1) for P Walsh (48 mins), C Fogarty for Murphy (59), C Buckley (0-1) for Mullen (65), D Blanchfield for Butler (68).

Dublin: S Brennan; J Madden, E O'Donnell, C O'Callaghan; D Ryan, P Smyth, D Gray (0-1); C Burke (0-2), C Crummey (0-1); D Burke (0-9, 7f), R McBride (0-1), D Sutcliffe; F Whitely (0-1), R Hayes, A Mellett. Subs: M Schutte (0-1) for Mellett (33 mins), E Dillon (0-1) for Hayes (55), A Dunphy for Gray (59), J Bellew or O'Donnell (63), D Keogh for McBride (65).

Ref: T Walsh (Waterford).