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After trailing Kilkenny by 16 points, Dublin produce epic comeback but fall just short

Kilkenny are into the Leinster SHC final while Dublin head for the qualifiers.

Dublin's Ronan Hayes and Padraig Walsh of Kilkenny.
Dublin's Ronan Hayes and Padraig Walsh of Kilkenny.
Image: Bryan Keane/INPHO

Kilkenny 3-20

Dublin 2-22

IT WOULD HAVE been one of the greatest comebacks of the hurling championship, but Dublin’s momentous effort fell just short as late scores from Alan Murphy and Huw Lawlor saw Kilkenny over the line.

Dublin did have an opportunity to force extra-time with a last gasp equaliser, but Donal Burke’s free from just outside his own 45 dropped short.

They’ll take on the winners of Wexford and Galway in the Leinster final, while Dublin will enter Monday’s draw for the backdoor.

If Cats had lost this one, Brian Cody’s squad would have spent their journey back down the motorway wondering just how they managed to let such a significant lead slip.

Three first-half goals left Kilkenny ahead by 15 points at the interval and they were 16 clear after 41 minutes. 

Kilkenny looked unstoppable for most of this game but Dublin, inspired by substitutes Eamonn Dillon and Ronan Hayes, showed huge fight to claw themselves back into the contest.

The Kilkenny half-forwards tackled with a ferocity that meant the Dublin players were under severe pressure any time they sent the ball inside. Once Dublin upped their work-rate and tackling all over the field they started to cause Brian Cody’s side problems.

Mattie Kenny’s side cut out the poor mistakes and started to use the ball better, while they competed far better for the breaking ball in midfield.

Led by Donal Burke, who was once again excellent on frees and finished with 0-12, the Sky Blues scored fourth quarter goals from Hayes and Chris Crummey, in addition to four fine scores from the excellent Dillon to haul themselves level by stoppage-time. 

TJ Reid grabbed the headlines once again, scoring 1-10 from full-forward, though he was quietened somewhat by Eoghan O’Donnell in the second-half.

Kilkenny’s debutants were Ciaran Wallace and Eoin Cody who scored 3-4 in a recent challenge game against Clare. 

Dublin fared well in the early stages, restricting Kilkenny to frees from TJ Reid. Cody opened his account in championship hurling two minutes before Billy Ryan powered through a mass of bodies and drilled past Alan Nolan. 

Crowd or no crowd, it makes no odds for Reid. Within 60 seconds he was celebrating Kilkenny’s second after claiming a high ball and racing through before finishing low into the net.

The Cats led 2-6 to 0-4 by the first-half water break, when Dublin decided to play Conor Burke as their seventh defender. He dropped in front of Reid, but it had little effect. The Ballyhale ace made two spectacular catches that resulted in his own scores, bringing his tally to 1-6 for the half. 

Dublin were gasping for air as four in-a-row between the 24th and 26th minutes arrived for the Cats. Unlike last weekend, Donal Burke looked human at times. He shot five wides in the opening period yet was the only Dublin player to score more than once.

Colin Fennelly was the quietest of the Kilkenny forwards and when he barrelled through for their third green flag on the stroke of half-time, Dublin’s race looked run.

By the 49th minute, Sean Moran and Liam Rushe had been replaced for Dublin which highlighted their struggles. But the players introduced made a major impact. Dillon went close to a goal twice, while Hayes jinked in from the end line to rifle in a goal in the 57th minute.

Four-in-a-row from Burke and a booming score from Crummey left Dublin trailing by 3-16 to 1-15 with 10 minutes left to play. When Burke’s potshot on goal from distance was parried back into play by Eoin Murphy, Chris Crummey pounced to divert the rebound into the net. 

Dillon brought his haul to 0-4 before Kilkenny sealed the win in stoppage-time. 

Scorers for Kilkenny: TJ Reid 1-10 (0-7f), Billy Ryan and Colin Fennelly 1-1 each, John Donnelly and Walter Walsh 0-2 each, Conor Delaney, Eoin Cody and Alan Murphy 0-1 each.

Scorers for Dublin: Donal Burke 0-12 (0-10f), Chris Crummey 1-1, Eamonn Dillon 0-4, Ronan Hayes 1-0, Cian Boland and Daire Gray 0-2 each, Danny Sutcliffe 0-1.

Kilkenny 

1. Eoin Murphy (Glenmore)

2. Conor Delaney (Erin’s Own)
3. Huw Lawlor (O’Loughlin Gaels)
4. Ciaran Wallace (Erins Own)

8. Cillian Buckley (Dicksboro)
6. Paddy Deegan (O’Loughlin Gaels)
5. Padraig Walsh (Tullaroan)

7. Richie Reid (Ballyhale Shamrocks)
9. Conor Fogarty (Erin’s Own)

10. John Donnelly (Thomastown)
15. Eoin Cody (Ballyhale Shamrocks)
12. Walter Walsh (Tullogher Rosbercon)

13. Billy Ryan (Graigue-Ballycallan)
11. TJ Reid (Ballyhale Shamrocks)
14. Colin Fennelly (Ballyhale Shamrocks)

Subs

24. Richie Hogan (Danesfort) for Ryan (50)
23. Martin Keoghan (Tullaroan) for Cody (59)
18. Joey Holden (Ballyhale Shamrocks) for Buckley (60) 
20. Conor Browne (James Stephens) for Fogarty (64)
21. Alan Murphy (Glenmore) for Donnelly (64)
22. Richie Leahy (Rower Inistioge) for Richie Ried (68)

Dublin 

1. Alan Nolan (St. Brigids)

2. Paddy Smyth (Clontarf)
3. Eoghan O’Donnell (Whitehall Colmcille)
4. James Madden (Ballyboden St. Enda’s)

6. Daire Gray (Whitehall Colmcille)
7. Cian O’Callaghan (Cuala)
5. Conor Burke (St. Vincent’s)

8. Seán Moran (Cuala)
9. Riain McBride (St. Vincent’s)

10. Cian Boland (St. Oliver Plunkett’s Eoghan Ruadh)
13. Donal Burke (Na Fianna)
12. Danny Sutcliffe (St. Jude’s)

14. Davy Keogh (Thomas Davis)
21. Liam Rushe (St Patrick’s Palmerstown)
11. Chris Crummey (Lucan Sarsfields)

Subs

18. Jake Malone (Cuala) for O’Callaghan (blood sub, 26-30)
22. Eamon Dillon (St Finbarr’s) for Keogh (ht)
15. Ronan Hayes (Kilmacud Crokes) for Rushe (41)
18. Malone for Moran (49)
24. Mark Schutte (Cuala) for Boland (59)
20. Fergal Whitely (Kilmacud Crokes) for McBride (70)

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About the author:

Kevin O'Brien  / reports from Croke Park

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