Dublin had to withstand an incredible second-half fightback at Parnell Park yesterday before claiming victory over Kilkenny for the first time since 2003.
The win was all the sweeter for the Blues as they only had 18 players available because of injuries and colleges ties, whereas Kilkenny included eight championship regulars in their lineup. Conor Clinton was outstanding at midfield and Shane Ryan scored three points from play, helping the home side establish a 1-11 to 0-2 half time lead.
When Daire Plunkett added a goal in the 46th minute, Dublin were 2-14 to 0-5 in front ad looked out of sight. However, Kilkenny were not about to lie down without a fight and they gained control of the game when they moved TJ Reid out the field. Reid and Michael Fennelly hit second half goals and suddenly the cats were just three points behind with eight minutes left.Dublin had to dig deep to withstand the onslaught in the final minutes but they managed to do so and held out for the victory.
“It was a great performance overall considering we had only 18 fit players,” said Daly. “I think we have the players to make the step up, it’s just about getting them to have the self-belief”.
Brian Cody couldn’t hide his disappointment at Kilkenny losing their unbeaten start to the year:
“Neither side was at full strength but their panel proved to be stronger than ours. Our second-half performance was decent, but the game was on for 72 or 73 minutes and for the first 35 we were not competing”.
Scorers – Dublin: C Clinton 1-4, R O’Dwyer 0-6 (4f), D Plunkett 1-1, S Ryan 0-3, J McCaffrey ( 1 ’65′), L Ryan, D O’Dwyer 0-1 each. Kilkenny: TJ Reid 1-6 (1-3f, 1 ’65′), M Fennelly 1-0, A Fogarty 0-2, M Rice, J Fitzpatrick, J Mulhall, N Walsh, E Guinan 0-1 each.
Dublin – A Nolan; R Trainor, N Corcoran, M Quilty; J Shannon, J McCaffrey, S Durkin; L Rushe, C Clinton; S Ryan, L Ryan, C McCormack; D O’Dwyer, R O’Dwyer, D Plunkett. Subs: D O’Callaghan for McCormack (h-t), C McCormack for Shannon (61), P Carton for S Ryan (61), S Ryan for Clinton (66), J Shannon for L Ryan (70).
Kilkenny – C McGrath; J Dalton, N Hickey, M Kavanagh; P Murphy, J Tyrrell, C Fogarty; M Rice, J Fitzpatrick; J Mulhall, P Hogan, N Walsh; M Ruth, TJ Reid, E Guinan. Subs: M Fennelly for Walsh (44), E Brennan for Ruth (44), A Fogarty for Hogan 52,
Referee – B Gavin (Offaly).