Tuesday 7 February 2023 Dublin: 7°C
Ryan Byrne/INPHO Dublin's Ger Cunningham and Kilkenny's Brian Cody after tonight's game.
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Kilkenny third quarter control, Dublin collapse, new Cats attacking gem
Another masterclass by Kilkenny, a tough night at the office for the Dubs.

1. Kilkenny’s third quarter control

When leading Donegal to the All-Ireland title in 2012, Jim McGuinness focused on getting his side to up the ante in the third quarter to streak clear of opponents. It was a key feature of their success. If he caught tonight’s action in Portlaoise, McGuinness would have been suitably impressed at Kilkenny’s display of power and style after half-time that left Dublin reeling.

At the break Kilkenny realised they were in a contest, shipping the last three points of the first-half to see their advantage cut, 0-12 to 0-11. They cranked up the gears when they emerged from the second-half to stitch together 1-8 without reply. By the time Dublin finally raised a second-half flag in the 51st minute, this was a done deal.

2. A new Kilkenny attacking gem

Ger Aylward is out for the season with a cruciate. James Maher is battling back from a fractured knee. Five of the Kilkenny starting forwards tonight hit 0-6 from play between them. But all was well as the remaining forward was a newcomer who fired 1-5 from play.

Jonjo Farrell is 27 years old and came on as a sub in the 2008 All-Ireland U21 final. He’s had to be patient for his senior breakthrough, only joining the Cats senior panel in 2014.

But he got his chance tonight and proved what he has to offer. He caught the eye in the first-half with a brace of points, struck three more after the interval and finished to the net with aplomb in the 48th minute. It was a superb outing from the Thomastown club man.

3. Dublin’s second-half collapse

Kilkenny’s performance after the break was awesome but the flipside was how disappointing Dublin were in the second-half. They would have been immensely satisfied with their first-half display, taking the physical fight to Kilkenny and getting the boost of posting the last three points of the opening period to shave the deficit to the minimum.

But they lost the impetus from that finish to the first-half and were punished for their tentative start to the second-half, quickly submerged by a flood of Kilkenny scores. Dublin’s forward line struggled, reliant on David Treacy’s frees and David O’Callaghan’s bursts for some attacking invention. Niall McMorrow and Eamonn Dillon, so impressive of late, could not exert a similar influence in this game.

4. Kilkenny’s watertight defence

Kilkenny’s last competitive outing before tonight was the league semi-final against Clare. That was characterised by the shocking sight of seeing a Kilkenny team leak four goals. It seems to have been an aberration.

Tonight saw normal service resumed for Kilkenny as they kept a clean sheet and Dublin only raised six white flags from play. David O’Callaghan engineered a first-half shot that prompted a smart save from Eoin Murphy but otherwise Dublin had no clearcut goal chances. Kilkenny’s defensive showing helped shape tonight’s success.

5. Dublin’s qualifier task

Ger Cunningham must now try to pick his side up after a dejecting Leinster exit. Last season they were dumped out of the provincial scene by 13 points by Galway yet to their credit they recovered to see off Laois, Limerick and battle with Waterford in an All-Ireland quarter-final.

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They’ll require a similar rehabilitation project now if they are to repeat that last six showing. Recovering from tonight’s second-half display will take work and the qualifier draw could provide them with a tough assignment.

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