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Dublin: 17 °C Monday 22 April, 2019

6 talking points after the opening weekend of the Allianz Hurling Leagues

Kilkenny show their strength, wasteful Tipp disappoint, and more to discuss from Saturday and Sunday’s action.

Cork's Patrick Cronin tries to get a shot off. Source: Ken Sutton/INPHO

1. Kilkenny show their reserves of strength

BRIAN CODY WOULDN’T have much tolerance for using the absence of several established stars as reason for a poor start to the league. Yet despite retirements, injuries and Ballyhale’s club exploits, the Kilkenny side that took to the field last night reaffirmed the notion that it is business as usual on Noreside.

Kilkenny were excellent, blowing Cork away in the third quarter. Richie Hogan’s 0-11 haul was crucial to Kilkenny’s win but it was the input of Mark Kelly, Walter Walsh, Lester Ryan and Jonjo Farrell that was most encouraging for the Cats. They hinted of their desire to become more prominent players in Kilkenny’s 2015 campaign. FOT

2. Bad opening night for Cork

The favourites tag didn’t rest easily with Cork last night. They couldn’t live up to those expectations in front of their home crowd and their ineffectual display after half-time was the root of their problems. In a high-scoring first-half, Cork competed and were only two adrift at the break but they only scored two points in the opening 20 minutes of the second-half.

Jimmy Barry-Murphy couldn’t mask his disappointment afterwards and willingly conceded that the late scoring spree that yielded goals from Luke O’Farrell and Conor Lehane, applied gloss to the final scoreline. The pressure will be on for improvement against Clare next Saturday night. FOT

3. Gavin O’Mahony’s new Limerick location

Gavin O'Mahony O'Mahony finished with 0-5 on Saturday night. Source: Donall Farmer/INPHO

Kilmallock’s progress to the All-Ireland club final has deprived Limerick of some key players but they did have Gavin O’Mahony at their disposal last night. He was suspended for last weekend’s club semi-final against Portaferry and in need of game time, he was released to TJ Ryan’s county setup last night to face Waterford.

O’Mahony was a valuable asset for Limerick but not in the half-back line where he has played most of his senior inter-county career. He played centre-forward, weighed in with 0-5 and produced a performance that could be a portent of where Limerick can most maximise his talents. FOT

4. Galway step up under pressure

Andy Smith and Joseph Cooney clash with Cloin Ryan and Clom Gavin at the throw in Andy Smith and Joseph Cooney clash with Colin Ryan and Colm Galvin. Source: Mike Shaughnessy/INPHO

For a second straight weekend, Galway’s tenacity will have left a smile on Anthony Cunningham’s face. These are early days but the Tribesmen are showing a dogged streak that they have often been accused of lacking.

They rallied from seven points down to beat Dublin in the Walsh Cup final last Saturday night and today, when Clare looked to have taken the two points, they dug out the win at the death.

Credit to Jason Flynn who, in the absence of the injured Joe Canning, stepped up when it mattered. He finished with nine points, none more important than the winning free from a tight angle out underneath the Pearse Stadium stand. NK

5. Cunningham already making his mark in Dublin

It might take a while t0 get used to Ger Cunningham’s new-look Dubs with Liam Rushe at full-forward, Conal Keaney at wing-back, and another handful of familiar faces lining out in not-so-familiar positions. The new boss used the Walsh Cup as a testing ground as he gets to know his charges and continued the experiment against Tipperary to great effect.

Rushe created one goal and scored the other in a 2-20 to 0-14 win, Keaney was a constant thorn in the side of the misfiring Tipp attack, and Michael Carton — named again at full-back — ensured that it was a quiet afternoon for one of last summer’s stars, Seamus Callanan.

As well as bringing in some young blood, Cunningham is obviously intent on developing a versatile panel. So far, so good. NK

Michael Carton with Seamus Callanan Carton kept Callanan to just one point from play. Source: Donall Farmer/INPHO

6. Tipp too wasteful to threaten

Tipperary were so far off the pace that it’s hard to know where to begin analysing their defeat to Dublin. Slow starts are not unusual for the Premier (they’ve lost four of their last five games on opening weekend) and there’s no need to overreact to a disappointing performance.

“The opposition were hungrier to win the ball,” Eamonn O’Shea said by way of explanation but there must be some concern with how Tipp used the ball they did have. They only managed 10 points from play — five of which came from John “Bubbles” O’Dwyer, one of their better performers — while wasteful shooting saw them rack up 16 wides.

Without John O’Brien and Eoin Kelly this season, the Tipp attack will need a few new leaders to step up. That certainly wasn’t the case on Sunday. NK

– Fintan O’Toole and Niall Kelly

It’s a long way back to Tipperary as Dublin rout Premier in league opener

The mighty Flynn strikes late to see Galway past Clare

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