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5 talking points - Dublin v Kilkenny, Leinster SHC semi-final

The sides finished all square yesterday in Portlaoise and get set to replay next Saturday.

Kilkenny's Kieran Joyce tackled by David Treacy and Ryan O'Dwyer of Dublin.
Kilkenny's Kieran Joyce tackled by David Treacy and Ryan O'Dwyer of Dublin.
Image: INPHO/Lorraine O'Sullivan

1. Dublin’s defensive improvements

Twelve months ago Dublin leaked 2-21 against Kilkenny and were convincingly beaten in their Leinster senior hurling semi-final meeting. The first step towards bridging that gap was to establish solid defensive foundations and that was pivotal to the draw they secured in O’Moore Park yesterday.

Peter Kelly and Paul Schutte shone in a strong defensive effort that clearly paid dividends as Kilkenny’s starting forward line only registered 1-6 from play and 1-4 of that was struck by Walter Walsh.

Richie Hogan did grab two points but those both arrived in the opening 26 minutes. Star men like Colin Fennelly and Richie Power failed to make a mark on the scoreboard while Eoin Larkin’s seven point haul all arrived from placed balls.

That was a testament to a strong defensive showing by Dublin although the absence of Henry Shefflin, who weighed in with 0-10 last year for the Cats in this fixture, was telling.

2. Impact of Walter Walsh

The one Kilkenny player that Dublin did struggle to get a grip on was Walter Walsh. Ever since he burst onto the national senior stage in a blaze of glory when winning the man-of-the-match award  on his debut in Kilkenny’s All-Ireland senior final replay win over Galway last September, Walsh has hit roadblocks.

Injury curbed his progress this spring both for the Kilkenny seniors and the UCD Fitzgibbon Cup team and he did not make his 2013 competitive bow for the Cats until coming on as a substitute in late March in Ennis against Clare.

But he returned to fitness and yesterday exploded to life in Portlaoise. The Tullogher-Rosbercon player was Kilkenny’s primary threat from open play as he fired 1-4 and his appetite for work was also impressive.

Kilkenny’s Walter Walsh and Niall Corcoran of Dublin
Pic: INPHO/Lorraine O’Sullivan

3. Daly gets Dublin operating at high level

Anthony Daly bristled at the notion in recent weeks that his team were faltering on the evidence of their displays in the two-game Leinster quarter-final saga with Wexford.

Daly made an interesting point that when he began his management tenure with Dublin, a victory over Wexford in Nowlan Park in 2009 was the cause for wild celebration but now a win over the Model County was met with a muted reaction.

Yesterday he unleashed his team to produce their best championship display since they ran Tipperary close in the 2011 All-Ireland semi-final.

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Their performance was also striking in the context of the debate over the hurling league divide as this year’s Division 1B winners drew with the side crowned Division 1 league champions in May.

4. Kilkenny count the cost of injuries

The sight of Paul Murphy, who has been such a pivotal defender for Kilkenny over the past two seasons, suffering an ankle injury that ended his involvement in the game prematurely yesterday will not have pleased Brian Cody.

Murphy is now a major doubt for next weekend’s replay and it’s still unclear as to whether Jackie Tyrrell, absent yesterday with the quad injury he has been hampered with recently, will be fit in time for that game.

In addition there are continued absentees in midfield powerhouse Michael Fennelly and the team’s attacking leader Henry Shefflin. Kilkenny’s resources are being stretched and it is influencing the stern examinations they are receiving of their credentials in Leinster.

Kilkenny’s Henry Shefflin and Michael Fennelly on the pitch before the game
Pic: INPHO/Lorraine O’Sullivan

5. Dublin set for a fourth consecutive weekend of action

Dublin’s hectic schedule shows no signs of abating. After drawing with Wexford on June 8th, defeating them in the replay on June 15th and drawing with Kilkenny yesterday, they now get set for a fourth game in 22 days with their replay against the Cats next Saturday night.

In addition players like Danny Sutcliffe and Eamonn Dillon have had an U21 championship tie with Carlow to contend with as well. Inter-county players often talk about how they relish games every week during the summer rather than long spells on the training field.

But will Dublin’s recent schedule prove energy-sapping next Saturday? And will that replay follow the familiar pattern of the hot favourites having their day against the underdogs who narrowly failed to finish the job off the first time around?

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About the author:

Fintan O'Toole

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