KILKENNY’S FORWARDS TORE Dublin apart as the Kittens retained their Leinster MHC title with a comfortable win in Croke Park.
The Dubs won by 11 points when these sides met in Nowlan Park back in April but a scintillating display by Alan Murphy (0-9) and goal hero Liam Blanchfield (2-3) turned the tables in emphatic fashion.
In fact, the margin should have been even greater but for a late cameo from Dublin sub Eoin Ó Conghaile who scored 1-2 late on including a consolation goal in the final minutes.
After an edgy start, Blanchfield fired home his first goal in the 10th minute. Dublin centre-back Jake Malone was outpaced and outmuscled, and Blanchfield had the awareness to poke the ball past keeper Jonathan Treacy.
Murphy scored five of his nine points in that first half but a well-taken goal by Sean Ryan on 25 minutes kept Dublin in touch.
Kilkenny led by four points at the break, 1-9 to 1-5, but Dublin were never closer. Murphy resumed where he left off with three unanswered points to start the second half and by the time he played in Blanchfield for his second goal in the 43rd minute, the game was already safe.
Blanchfield followed up with another point to stretch the lead to 14 as the game entered its final quarter of an hour and despite Ó Conghaile’s late cameo, Kilkenny were worthy winners.
Scorers for Dublin: Eoin Ó Conghaile 1-2, Sean Ryan 1-0, Sean Gray 0-3 (3f), Chris Bennett 0-2 (2f), Rian McBride, Con O’Callaghan, Eoghan McHugh 0-1 each.
Scorers for Kilkenny: Liam Blanchfield 2-3, Alan Murphy 0-9 (4f, 1 65), Ronan Corcoran, Sean Morrissey 0-2 each, Ross Butler, Conor Browne, John Walsh 0-1 each.
1. Jonathan Treacy (Na Fianna)
2. Mark McCallion (Kilmacud Crokes)
3. Shane Barrett (capt, Na Fianna)
4. Dara Butler (Kilmacud Crokes)
5. Shane Howard (Fingallians)
6. Jake Malone (Cuala)
7. Paul O’Dea (Na Fianna)
8. Rian McBride (St Vincent’s)
9. Donal Burke (Na Fianna)
10. Seán Gray (Whitehall Colmcille)
11. Eoghan McHugh (Na Fianna)
12. Eoghan Conroy (St Maur’s)
13. Sean Ryan (Na Fianna)
14. Con O’Callaghan (Cuala)
15. Chris Bennett (Faughs)
Substitutions: Tom Fox for Barrett (27), Cian O’Sullivan for O’Dea (27), Ciaran Brady for Burke (39), Eoin Ó Conghaile for Gray (43), Fergal Whitely for Butler (54).
1. Darren Brennan (St Lachtain’s)
2. Cathal McGrath (John Locke’s)
3. Conor Delaney (Erin’s Own)
4. Conor Doheny (Dicksboro)
17. Pat Lyng (Rower-Instioge)
6. Jason Cleere (Bennetsbridge)
7. Darragh Joyce (capt, Rower-Instioge)
8. Conor Browne (James Stephens)
9. Luke Scanlon (James Stephens)
10. Sean Morrissey (Bennettsbridge)
11. Ross Butler (O’Loughlin Gaels)
12. Billy Ryan (Graigue Ballycallan)
13. Ronan Corcoran (Ballyhale Shamrocks)
14. Liam Blanchfield (Bennettsbridge)
15. Alan Murphy (Glenmore)
Substitutions: Eoin Kenny for Ryan (HT), John Walsh for Butler (52), Liam Hennessy for Corcoran (59).
Referee: Paud O’Dwyer (Carlow)