Kilkenny defeated Dublin by 1-20 – 0-18 in the opening game in Division 1 Group B of the Allianz Hurling League on Saturday.
Brian Cody’s men proved too strong for the home side in an empty Parnell Park as both sides returned to action for the first time this year.
Both sides exchanged scores early in the first half. A TJ Reid free from just outside the Dublin ’45 was quickly cancelled out with a free from Na Fianna clubman Donal Burke. A last-minute change to the Dublin team saw Andrew Dunphy start ahead of Cian O’Callaghan and the number 18 took no time to leave his mark on the match as he put Dublin into a 0-02 – 0-01 lead.
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Kilkenny debutant James Bergin scored Brian Cody’s side first point from play after good build up play from Kilkenny that started from a puckout. Chris Crummey scored a point of his own to restore Dublin’s lead, but Kilkenny began to take control of the half almost immediately after.
Despite a strong wind favouring Dublin Ballyhale Shamrocks teammates TJ Reid and Darragh Corcoran both scored long range points to move Kilkenny into a 0-04 – 0-03 lead. Kilkenny midfielder Richie Leahy hobbled off injured after eleven minutes and was replaced by Richie Reid in the engine room. Another free from Burke levelled the game but two points from play by Tullaroan clubmen Martin Keoghan and Pádraig Walsh left the game at 0-06 – 0-04 as referee John Keenan signalled for the first half water break.
Burke tapped over another free straight in front of the posts after more ill-discipline from the Cats. Kilkenny free taker TJ Reid put a beautifully struck free from his own ’45 straight between the posts to extend the Kilkenny lead. A fine score from Dublin half back Daire Gray and a second point for Martin Keoghan meant Kilkenny remained two ahead at 0-08 – 0-06.
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Dublin responded strongly with David Keogh, Danny Sutcliffe and Donal Burke scoring three unanswered points to go one point ahead. However, all of their hard work was undone in the final stages of the first half as Kilkenny got three points of their own from Cillian Buckley, Pádraig Walsh and James Bergin that left the score at 0-11 – 0-09 in favour of Kilkenny at half time.
Kilkenny captain Adrian Mullen, who was starting for the first time in fifteen months following a long-term cruciate injury he suffered in February 2020, was replaced at half time by James Maher. Chris Crummey got the first score of the second half, but Kilkenny added a further two points to move 0-13 – 0-10 ahead. Eamon Dillon and Burke reduced the margin to a single point, but Kilkenny began to move up the gears as the second half progresses. Three points without reply from Reid (2) and Keoghan gave Kilkenny a four-point lead, the widest margin between the two sides at that stage of the game.
Mattie Kenny’s side rallied in a similar manner to their near comeback against the same opposition in last year’s Leinster semi-final. Two points from 2020 All Star nominee Burke followed by well taken scores from Sutcliffe and Cian Boland levelled the game midway through the second half, 0-16 – 0-16.
The final quarter was completely dominated by the Leinster champions, however, with man of the match Martin Keoghan scoring his fourth point of the game quickly followed by a goal. Padraig Walsh sent a long ball into the full-forward line and as the ball broke for Keoghan, he found the back of the net in what was the crucial moment of the game. Dublin failed to recover and went down to fourteen men after Liam Rushe deservedly received a second yellow card following a frontal charge on Conor Browne.
TJ Reid dispatched of yet another free for his seventh and final point of the game as Kilkenny went 1-18 0-16 ahead. In stark contrast to the trusty nature of Reid from a dead ball, Dublin missed five frees throughout the course of the game. Substitute Alan Murphy and a second point for Thomastown’s John Donnelly moved Kilkenny seven ahead and two late frees from the home side were nothing more than consolation scores as Kilkenny got their league campaign off to the perfect start.
Next up for Kilkenny is a clash with Joe McDonagh Cup champions Antrim at UPMC Nowlan Park on Sunday May 16 with a throw-in time of 13:30.
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