Kilkenny 2-23
Dublin 1-21

Kevin O’Brien reports from Nowlan Park 

THE 2018 SEASON had a lot to live up to, but the 2019 championship roared into life as Kilkenny turned a four-point half-time deficit into a five-point victory in the Leinster SHC opener this evening.

Tj Reid celebrates scoring his side’s first goal.

Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Facing a Kilkenny side missing a host of regulars, Dublin were fancied by many to claim victory here but it was the Cats who prevailed after dominating the second-half exchanges.

The hosts looked passive and second to breaking ball in the opening period but once Brian Cody got his hands on them they were a different animal after the restart.

They outscored Dublin by 2-11 to 0-8 in the second period as TJ Reid exerted his dominance over proceedings with an outstanding tally of 2-12.

This was a hot-blooded encounter that referee Cathal McAllister struggled to keep control of at times. It had everything. Three penalties, a plethora of goal chances, plenty of off-the-ball flashpoints and physical exchanges all over the field. 

Greg Kennedy’s first-half incursion onto the field was the first real controversy of the GAA summer. Shortly before half-time when the former Galway hurler, a selector with Dublin, was on the field after giving instructions to some defenders when Reid went short with a free.

Kennedy stuck out a hand and grasped the sliotar, denying Kilkenny a goalscoring opportunity. A retake was ordered and barring a talking to by the referee, Kennedy’s infraction went unpunished. He did, however, draw the wrath of Brian Cody as he left the field.

Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Kilkenny went into battle without Eoin Murphy, Cillian Buckley, James Maher, Conor Delaney and Rob Lennon. Mattie Kenny put Dublin’s injured brigade at seven-strong, including Cuala forward Mark Schutte who returned to the squad this year after his stint with the county footballers. 

From the start, Kenny dropped wing-forward Fergal Whitely back into midfield, which allowed one of the regular midfielders to sit into the centre-back slot and release Chris Crummey in front of his full-back line.

The Sky Blues got their match-ups right early on. Shane Barrett used all the dark arts to frustrate Reid in the first-half, while Sean Moran shut down Ballyhale Shamrocks debutant Adrian Mullen for the majority of the game.

A lively opening 35 minutes threw up a host of talking points. Rushe was a wrecking ball at full-forward, winning two penalties for Dublin. Moran drilled the first into the bottom corner and skied the second one over the bar. 

Dublin’s physicality on the half-back line saw them control the airwaves, with Walter Walsh the sole Cats attacker capable of winning his own ball early on.

Alan Murphy burst forward for three points from midfield but the Dublin attack was far slicker with Sutcliffe and Fergal Whitely contributing a brace apiece to leave them 1-13 to 0-12 in front at the interval.

Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Reid fired over three frees and then levelled the game with a goal after a wonderful one-two with clubmate Colin Fennelly. Kilkenny’s fighting spirit saw them ramp up the physicality.

Fennelly won a penalty after barrelling through Sean Moran and Alan Nolan, although he was dismayed advantage wasn’t played after finishing the rebound into the net.

Not to worry. Reid buried the penalty, while scores from Mullen and Richie Leahy left the Cats 2-19 to 1-17 clear. Leahy looked extremely dangerous after arriving off the bench and he doubled his tally as the Cats held firm in the closing stages. 

Scorers for Kilkenny: TJ Reid 2-12 (1-0 pen, 0-11f, 0-1 65), Alan Murphy 0-3, Richie Leahy and Ger Aylward 0-2 each, Padraig Walsh, Adrian Mullen, Walter Walsh 0-1 each, 

Scorers for Dublin: Sean Moran 2-1 (1-1 pen, 0-1f), David Treacy 0-6 (0-6f), Danny Sutcliffe 0-4, Fergal Whitely and Chris Crummey 0-2 each, Sean Treacy, Darragh O’Connell, Tomas Connolly, Liam Rushe and Paul Ryan 0-1 each. 

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Kilkenny

1. Darren Brennan (St Lachtain’s)

2. Paul Murphy (Danesfort)
3. Paddy Deegan (O’Loughlin Gaels)
4. Tommy Walsh (Tullaroan)

5. Enda Morrissey (Bennettsbridge)
6. Huw Lawlor (O’Loughlin Gaels)
7. Conor Fogarty (Erin’s Own)

8. Padraig Walsh (Tullaroan)
9. Alan Murphy (Glenmore)

10. Adrian Mullen (Ballyhale Shamrocks)
11. Walter Walsh (Tullogher Rosbercon)
12. TJ Reid (Ballyhale Shamrocks)

13. Billy Ryan (Graigue-Ballycalln)
14. Colin Fennelly (Ballyhale Shamrocks)
15. Ger Aylward (Glenmore)

Subs

20. Richie Leahy (Rower Inistioge) for Morrissey (ht)
21. Richie Hogan (Danesfort) for Ryan (40)

Dublin

1. Alan Nolan (St. Brigids)

9. Darragh O’Connell (Cuala)
3. Eoghan O’Donnell (Whitehall Colmcille)
2. Paddy Smyth (Clontarf)

7. Shane Barrett (Na Fianna)
5. Chris Crummey (Lucan Sarsfields)
6. Seán Moran (Cuala)

8. Seán Treacy (Cuala)
19. Tomas Connolly (St Vincent’s)

10. David Treacy (Cuala)
11. Danny Sutcliffe (St. Jude’s)
12. Fergal Whitely (Kilmacud Crokes)

25. Paul Ryan (Ballyboden St Enda’s)
14. Liam Rushe (St. Patrick’s Palmerstown)
15. Eamon Dillon (Naomh Fionnbarra)

Subs

21. Rian McBride (St Vincent’s) for Connolly (51)
22. Conal Keaney (Ballyboden St Enda’s) for Ryan (60)
23. Cian Boland (St Oliver Plunkett’s Eoghan Ruadh) for Sean Treacy (66)
20. Jake Malone (Cuala) for David Treacy (72) 
26. Ronan Hayes (Kilmacud Crokes) for Rushe (74)

Referee: Cathal McAllister.

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