It was a classic battle between the young pretenders of Dublin and the proven class of Kilkenny in the sunshine of Croke Park today. A Dublin side which started their season with a Walsh Cup Final victory over Kilkenny, and have continued to impress their supporters and neutrals alike ever since.
It was the dubs who started the brighter of the two sides. They were first on the score board after just two minutes when Ryan O’Dwyer struck a lovely point from wide on the right. Paul Ryan soon followed his team-mate by adding another point from a free, 0-2 0-0 to Dublin. No sign of big games nerves so far.
T.J Reid got his Kilkenny side off the mark from a free not long after. Then on ten minutes, Eddie Brennan was the man who put the ball in the back of the net for the Black cats. Richie Hogan kept a long ball from going out of play and managed to offload it to Brennan who made no mistake in blasting the ball into Dublin’s goal. Dublin 0-2 Kilkenny 1-1 now.
David O’Callaghan provided a great response for Dublin, after the disappointment of conceding the goal, by finding the target for a point for his team. Paul Ryan then levelled the game, before putting Dublin back in the lead by two, scoring three points in a row.
In contrast to Paul Ryan’s free scoring, T.J Reid was racking up a couple of wides from frees for Kilkenny, not helped by Kilkenny playing into the wind first half. Daragh Plunkett brought the Dubs further ahead with a sensational point right on the touchline, before that man Paul Ryan followed with another score. Not to feel left out, Conal Keaney then got himself on the scoreboard. Dublin 0-10 Kilkenny 1-1. This was a commanding and controlled performance from the men in blue dealing with anything Kilkenny were throwing at them with ease.
Just when Kilkenny thought things couldn’t much worse, Eoin Larkin left the referee with no choice but to send him off after rather stupidly striking Keaney with his hurl. Dublin were playing with a spring in their step now and not letting the Kilkenny players to get a moments peace on the ball.
Michael Rice hit a much needed Kilkenny point, their first score since the nine minute mark. Paul Ryan followed with one for Dublin. On the stroke of half time there was controversy in Croke Park. Conor Mc’Cprmack thought he had a scored a Dublin goal, but the referee made a huge call saying he had already blown for an infringement. Dublin were incensed but no goal. That surely would have been game over?
Composure was needed by the Dublin players now. The title was theirs to lose.
Kilkenny started the second half with intent, Brian Cody had obviously let them know at half time tht they simply had not been good enough. T.J Reid was the first player to hit the ball between the posts at the start of the half. Dublin were starting to look slightly edgy. Mc’Cormack then hit a great score into hill 16 to settle Dublin down. Dublin 0-12 Kilkenny 1-3.
The game was being played end to end now with each team trying to cancel out the others scoring. T.J Reid for Kilkenny, and Maurice O’Brien and Conal Keaney taking the score to Dublin 0-15 Kilkenny 1-05.
T.J Reid and Paul Ryan exchanged frees to keep the scoreboard ticking over. If Dublin could keep the same intensity Kilkenny would run out of time to try and force a comeback. Time was nearing the end for Kilkenny, Hogan kicked over a free on 67 to make it Dublin 0-16 Kilkenny 1-07. Six points between them and Kilkenny needed to push for goals to have any chance of saving the tie.
A groan went around Croke Park as six minute of added time were announced following a long delay caused by an injury to Dublin’s Joey Boland. However, it was Dublin who commanded the period of stoppage time, racking up six more scores to send hill 16 into euphoria.
That was it, game over. And what a game it was. Dublin were in control throughout and never looked like losing. A harsh lesson for Kilkenny today. Its not often you can say that after a hurling game.
Maurice O’Brien gets in on the act. The game is over, Dublin win.
Paul Ryan with another!That looks to be that!
Simon Lambert with another, a hugely impressive performance
Conal Keaney with a monster point from the sideline
David Treacy with an excellent Dublin point
This looks like being a famous victory for Dublin
Seventy minutes are up but we will have 6 minutes injury time
Dublin add another point through Liam Rushe
Kilkenny keep hanging in their with another point
Paul Ryan points for Dublin. Looking good for Anthony Daly’s men
TJ Reid with a Kilkenny point again
Conal Keaney points for Dublin
TJ Reid with another Kilkenny score from a free
Ryan O’Dwyer replies for Dublin
TJ Reid scores from a free for Kilkenny
Maurice O’Brien points for the Dubs
Joey Boland is stretchered off the field,lets hope its not a serious injury
Conor McCormack points,all the Dublin forwards have now scored
TJ Reid points for Kilkenny
Second half is underway
Its halftime here in Croke Park. This is Dublin’s title if they keep their heads
Dublin score a goal but ref calls it back. That would have been game over!
Paul Ryan points to increase the Dublin lead
Into added time,2minutes to be played
Michael Rice points for Kilkenny
The Kilkenny player struck an opponent with his hurley
Eoin Larkin sent off,Kilkenny in real trouble here
Conal Keaney makes it a six point lead
Another pointed free from Ryan, Dublin lead by 5 points
Paul Ryan again, all Dublin at the moment
Daragh Plunkett with the best score of the day.
Kilkenny not their usual selves today,TJ Reid has missed a couple of frees
Paul Ryan with his third point in a row stretches the lead
Another point from Ryan and Dublin go back in front
Dublin have started very strongly,has the makings of a great match
Paul Ryan points to level the game
David O’Callaghan points for Dublin
Eddie Brennan with a Kilkenny goal
Kilkenny get their first score from TJ Reid
Paul Ryan makes it 0-2 for the Dubs
Ryan O’Dwyer gets the opening point for Dublin
The game is on
Huge crowd in Croke Park for this game today
Alan McCrabbe starts for Dublin, wearing number 19
It should be a cracking match in croke park.
Hurling history will be made in Croke Park this Sunday, when Kilkenny and Dublin meet in the Allianz National League Final for the first time(4pm).
Dublin booked their place in their first final since 1946, when they defeated Cork in their last game of the regular season. They now face a Kilkenny side who are well accustomed to gracing the Croke Park turf in national deciders. The Cats last won the title in 2009, and are playing in the final for the seventh time in ten years.
Anthony Daly’s Dublin have undoubtedly been the surprise packet of this season’s competition. The Blues have been improving in recent years but many believed that they still had it all to do against the top counties. However, they started the season with a Walsh Cup Final victory over Kilkenny and have continued on from there. Brian Cody has admitted that Dublin’s performances this season have not come as a surprise:
“I’ve been talking about this Dublin team and the talent they have for the last three years. They’ve been let down by the occasional poor performance where they have got a bad beating but you could see the improvement is there and the opportunity and talent is very much there this year.
“I am not even remotely surprised at their level of and the progress they have made because I think there is absolutely massive potential in the team. I heard someone say they won’t fear us and I would say that is for certain. To me, I am thrilled to see the quality of hurling in Dublin and I would love to see every county playing the same quality to what they are playing.”
Both sides have injury worries ahead of this weekend’s clash. Kilkenny look like being without star defender, Tommy Walsh, who suffered a recurrence of a shoulder injury in a club game last weekend. Eoin Larkin is also a doubt with a dead leg, while Aidan Fogarty, Michael Fennelly, John Dalton and Henry Sheflin are all absentees.
Dublin are still waiting on the availability of Liam Rushe, who is struggling with a shoulder injury. However, Anthony Daly also had better news, with the possibility that Joey Boland, Alan McCrabbe and Maurice O’Brien could all be available for selection. Boland has not featured for the Blues since picking up an injury against Galway but has now returned to training. The latter pair both made appearances against Cork and should feature at some point on Sunday.
Hurling fans looks set for an epic battle this weekend, between the proven class of Kilkenny and the young pretenders, Dublin. The former have been decimated by injuries and Dublin will get few better chances to take a national title. Daly’s side have already shown that they can beat Kilkenny in a final and as Cody has said, they will fear no-one at this stage. Although it is asking a great deal of the Blues to win this game, they are certainly the value call at 9/4, and the even money plus three points also appeals.
Dublin: G Maguire; N Corcoran, T Brady, P Kelly; J McCaffrey, J Boland, S Durkin; L Rushe, A McCrabbe; C McCormack, R O’Dwyer, C Keaney; P Ryan, D O’Callaghan, D Plunkett.
Kilkenny: David Herity, John Dalton, Brian Hogan, Noel Hickey, Paddy Hogan, Jackie Tyrrell, JJ Delaney, TJ Reid, Michael Rice, James Fitzpatrick, Mathew Ruth, Eoin Larkin, Colin Fennelly, Eddie Brennan, Richie Hogan.