London came calling and Kilkenny answered well on Friday night.
The new-look All-Ireland junior football championship got underway at the National Games Development Centre in Abbottstown yesterday with four teams in this year’s competition.
Kilkenny, having competed in the British Junior Championship in more recent years, were joined by Warwickshire, London and New York for the semi-final stages, the winners progressing to Sunday’s final in Croke Park.
In the evening’s first game, New York finished up with five points to spare over Warwickshire, coming away with a 1-08 to 0-06 win.
Kilkenny and London were next out and despite two early scores from Kilkenny, it was a neck-and-neck first half, the sides tied at three points apeice midway through the first half and seven points apiece at the break.
London turned things around in the second half and with Kilkenny seven points clear after the restart, the Exiles kicking 2-2 without reply including two goals from Shay Rafter to move a point clear heading down the stretch.
Lisdowney’s Mick Kenny and Mullinavat’s Mick Malone had brought their scoring shoes to Dublin though, both hitting late goals to nudge the Cats to a 3-11 to 2-9 win and set up a final date against New York.
Indeed, Malone would finish with 2-3 while Kenny chipped in with 1-4 across the night.
Also on the scoreboard for Kilkenny were Jamie Holohan, Rory Monks, Conor Hennessy and second-half substitute Shane Stapleton (all 0-1).
Kilkenny and New York throws in at Croke Park at 1pm on Sunday where a positive result for Kilkenny would yield an historic first-ever Al-Ireland junior football championship title.
Killian Dunphy (Mullinavat), Shane Kelly (Mullinavat), Paul Murphy (Danesfort), Tom Kenny (Dicksboro), Kevin Blanchfield (Graiguenamanagh), Ciarán Wallace (Erin’s Own), Joe Fennelly (Mullinavat), Jim Cullen (Mullinavat), Tom Aylward (Mullinavat), Mick Kenny (Lisdowney), Mick Malone (Mullinavat), Conor Hennessy (Tullogher Rosbercon), Adam Mansfield (Mullinavat), Jamie Holohan (Erin’s Own), Rory Monks (Thomastown)
Subs: JJ O’Sullivan (St. Patrick’s), John Walsh (Mullinavat), Shane Stapleton (Dicksboro), James Dermody (Fenians), Ger Malone (Mullinavat), Conor Duggan (Mullinavat), Shane Murphy (Glenmore), Philip Roche (Railyard), Ethan Phelan (Glenmore), Edward Moylan (Dicksboro), Mikey Jones (Mullinavat)