We are in Portlaoise today and countdown is already on to throw in and the biggest game of the hurling championship thus far. Dublin may have been relegated from Division 1A but there is expectation before this one against Kilkenny. We’ll see if it’s justified when we get underway in a little over 15 minutes.
History is against the underdogs though as Dublin look to record a first championship win in 70 years against their opponents, who haven’t lost in Leinster since 2004.
Their last championship meeting in the Leinster final a year ago was a massacre but while Dublin suffered injury problems that day – Joey Boland was just back from a shoulder problem and Ryan O’Dwyer was suspended – today it’s Kilkenny missing key players with the injuries to Michaels Rice and Fennelly.
Eight minutes to throw-in on a typical Irish summer’s day, and here are how they’ll line out.
Dublin – Gary Maguire; Niall Corcoran, Peter Kelly, Tomas Brady; Stephen Hiney, Joseph Boland, Michael Carton; John McCaffrey, Shane Durkin; Conal Keaney, Danny Sutcliffe, Liam Rushe; Paul Ryan, Ryan O’Dwyer, Conor McCormack.
Kilkenny – David Herity; Paul Murphy, JJ Delaney, Jackie Tyrrell; Tommy Walsh, Brian Hogan, Richie Doyle; Cillian Buckley, Paddy Hogan; Henry Shefflin, TJ Reid, Eoin Larkin; Colin Fennelly, Richie Power, Richie Hogan.
Consensus is that Kilkenny will have the greater scoring power and it’ll more than counteract Dublin’s physicality. Time will tell, but it would be a huge upset if Kilkenny don’t head back to a Leinster final where Galway are already waiting.
National anthem plays out through the raindrops here. Underway within moments. Remember all your thoughts and opinions welcome throughout the afternoon so do share!
2 minutes, Dublin 0-1 Kilkenny 0-0: Liam Rushe gone in at full-forward straight away as a Dublin free tails wide. They do have the wind but conditions are poor. Another free from Dublin and this time Paul Ryan slots it over.
Dublin trying to impose their size early on but if anything it’s the weather that has slowed this game down as Kilkenny hit a couple of early wides. Johnny McCaffrey with a wide at the other end. Slow start all around.
7 minutes, Dublin 0-2 Kilkenny 0-1: Paul Ryan with his second, this one from play, but the basis for that score was solid Dublin defence – Joey Boland in particular has started well back there. Nothing he can do about that though as TJ Reid hits over a lovely point from distance with little time or space.
9 minutes, Dublin 0-3 Kilkenny 0-2: Even better score at the other end as Danny Sutcliffe takes off down the line and pops one over from the tightest of angles. Fine start from the underdogs, even if Niall Corcoran gives up a free and Henry Shefflin converts. He’s now four shy of 500 championship points.
13 minutes, Dublin 0-3 Kilkenny 0-3: Here’s the problem for Dublin. They have had a great start, Kilkenny have a trailing leg still stuck in the blocks yet they are level as Richie Hogan ties it up. It took a lot of work to craft the space for that score but it eventually opened up.
16 minutes, Dublin 0-3 Kilkenny 0-3: Shefflin free slides wide but huge blow for Dublin as David Treacy is on for Conal Keaney who has picked up a knock. Massive blow.
18 minutes, Dublin 0-4 Kilkenny 1-3: Worse news for Dublin. Richie Power runs a great line, collects and feeds TJ Reid for his first championship goal. Game-changing couple of moments. Even as Paul Ryan responds with a free, suddenly they are up against it after so many early positives.
18 minutes, Dublin 0-4 Kilkenny 1-4: Tomas Brady gone into full-back and he’s given away a second free. Henry Shefflin converts and in a game where defences were on top early, Kilkenny beginning to get some ball up front.
24 minutes, Dublin 0-4 Kilkenny 1-6: It’s heavy hitting and not particularly fast, but Kilkenny still finding a way through and it’s TJ Reid with a point. He is having a great game after a slow start on Joey Boland. Another one for Kilkenny, simple free for Henry Shefflin.
27 minutes, Dublin 0-4 Kilkenny 2-7: Great ball by Paddy Hogan and Richie Power is the latest to score for Kilkenny. They are slowly getting on top up front and are doing well at the back, forcing Dublin into rare but hasty and ill-advised shots. Now Colin Fennelly makes a lovely run across the half-back line and Richie Power is wide open on the edge of the square. Nice finish for his side’s second goal.
32 minutes, Dublin 0-5 Kilkenny 2-7: Rory Traynor on for Niall Corcoran but Dublin need to change their tactics because they are getting so few of the high balls that are being sent into their full-forward line in particular. Paul Ryan does get a free but they are struggling with the breeze and rain at their backs in open play. They just don’t have the fluidity, pace and vision of the opposition forwards.
35 minutes, Dublin 0-5 Kilkenny 2-9: Brian Hogan is dominating at six, not only on the back foot, but on the front foot too. He is behind the latest free as Henry Shefflin converts, and he’s one short of 500 now. If this keeps up he’ll get it on a winning day. And there it is, another free brings him to 500. Alan McCrabbe on for Conor McCormack as Dublin make their third sub. A sign of the trouble they are having across the park.
Half-time, Dublin 0-6 Kilkenny 2-10: Shefflin and David Treacy swap scores but after all the talk, there’s only one side walking the walk. Dublin’s backs cannot contain the Kilkenny front six and there’s plenty of ball coming in with Brian Hogan in particular setting the tone at the back. Dublin really can’t keep pumping it in high and long or this is going to get worse for them. They’ve tried to use their physicality, but Kilkenny have held their own in that regard and been the more clever too with their body position in winning frees in the many heavyweight clashes across the pitch. We’ll be back after the break of a hugely one-sided game that promised a shock for no more than 10 minutes. And it’ll be Kilkenny with the elements at their backs for that second half.
We are underway in the second half and if Dublin had a hill to climb before the start, they’ve a mountain before them right now. Kilkenny don’t lose games like this. Indeed Kilkenny tend not to lose games. In tactical news, Liam Rushe gone to midfield beside Johnny McCaffrey with Ross O’Carroll gone to full-forward.
40 minutes, Dublin 0-6 Kilkenny 2-12: But the action is at the other end and a great score from Richie Hogan. Dublin need to get a run on Kilkenny at the start of this half or the last quarter will be a procession. Meanwhile the attendance is 12,446 and they watch on as Shefflin hits another free over, his seventh of the day.
42 minutes, Dublin 0-7 Kilkenny 2-12: Ryan O’Dwyer pulls one back, his first contribution to the scoreboard. His side need about another six of those in rapid succession.
45 minutes, Dublin 0-7 Kilkenny 2-14: Instead it’s Richie Power with half of O’Moore Park to himself who responds. The intensity has slowly leaked out of Dublin’s game after that hard-hitting start but you get the feeling they now know there isn’t a hope of a comeback. Paddy Hogan knows that too as he gets his first. You’d really have to question Dublin’s style and distribution though. Their long-ball game didn’t work in the first half yet still they persist with a ploy the Kilkenny half-back and full-back line is loving.
47 minutes, Dublin 0-7 Kilkenny 2-15: Richie Power point there off the back of another aimless and high ball up the other end. Okay, Dublin cannot match their opponents but why not alter a game plan that simply isn’t working to at least give it a better lash. They say stupidity is the inability to learn from your mistakes.
50 minutes, Dublin 0-7 Kilkenny 2-15: Noel Hickey on for JJ Delaney. That sums up so much. Dotsy O’Callaghan is Dublin’s final change as Paul Ryan goes off. That also sums a lot up as Dublin have made all their changes with 20 minutes to go.
54 minutes, Dublin 0-7 Kilkenny 2-17: Gary Maguire spills a ball over the endline there. Dublin’s basic skills have been really poor as well, even accounting for the opposition and the conditions. This game will hurt them a lot. How much it sets them back remains to be seen. Back to the game and Henry Shefflin converts that 65. Eoin Larkin adds one too from the puckout.
57 minutes, Dublin 0-7 Kilkenny 2-18: Henry Shefflin free. Aidan Fogarty on in the middle of the field for Cillian Buckley. Matthew Ruth on too for Colin Fennelley. Great double save from Gary Maguire, the highlight of Dublin’s afternoon. Granted, it’s all irrelevant at this stage.
While we watch Kilkenny cruise here, and realise they are possibly the best thing to come out of the county, is this possibly the worst? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YNtvqzmsS6k
62 minutes, Dublin 0-8 Kilkenny 2-20: An Alan McCrabbe free is only Dublin’s second score of the second half and there’s barely a round of applause in the ground. Granted there’s barely a round of applause as Henry Shefflin scores at the other end with a free of his own. A little more as Paddy Hogan clips one off the post for his second. Tommy Walsh gone off to the loudest cheer of all in the last few minutes.
67 minutes, Dublin 0-8 Kilkenny 2-20: Dublin like a wounded insect here. Only the referee’s whistle will put them out of their misery. And put us out of ours.
69 minutes, Dublin 0-8 Kilkenny 2-21: Eoin Larkin scores. Makes you wonder, after all the positivity surrounding Dublin hurling in recent years, they seem as far behind Kilkenny as ever looking at this.
Full-time, Dublin 0-9 Kilkenny 2-21: Dotsy O’Callaghan rounds off the scoring. Ruthless from Kilkenny as we expected. Dire from Dublin and we expected so much more. Where that leaves Dublin? As far off the very best as ever.