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Dublin: 3 °C Saturday 23 March, 2019
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5 talking points after Kilkenny's late Leinster U21 show means heartbreak for Dublin

The Cats triumphed in Parnell Park tonight.

Mark Mansfield's match winning goal for Kilkenny
Mark Mansfield's match winning goal for Kilkenny
Image: James Crombie/INPHO

1. A sickening defeat for Dublin

On home soil, Dublin would have been confident of issuing a strong early statement in the U21 hurling championship. They ticked a lot of boxes throughout with assured play and only trailed once over the 60-odd minutes.

But that was at the most decisive juncture when the final whistle blew and the reaction of the Dublin players afterwards illustrated how this was a sickening defeat. Three years ago Dublin only lost out in their bid for an All-Ireland minor hurling title after a replay. Tonight their U21 campaign was halted at the opening hurdle.

2. Kilkenny get an U21 boost

For all their hurling prowess at senior level, Kilkenny haven’t blazed a trail in the U21 grade of late. They’ve only won one of the last five provincial crowns, a blemish for a county that has generally reigned supreme in Leinster.

Wexford and Dublin have been the strong U21 forces and this year’s draw wasn’t kind to the Cats, pitting them in a Parnell Park opener. Their prospects looked shaky at several junctures tonight but their battling qualities served them well.

The county got an U21 boost at the final whistle and a last four date with Carlow beckons in three weeks time in Nowlan Park.

3. Kilkenny’s goal threat tells in the end

Dublin may have dominated the game on the scoreboard for long stretches but Kilkenny’s ability to carve them open at the back ultimately proved their undoing.

Kilkenny hit the net four times through James Maher, Mark Mansfield, Ciaran Ryan and Chris Bolger. In addition Bolger and Liam Hickey were denied further goals by splendid saves from Seán Brennan, while Bolger found the side netting from another opportunity early in the game.

Their capacity to create goal openings ultimately enabled Kilkenny to stay in contention and significantly they raised the last three green flags of the game to get over the finish line.

4. Food for thought for Ger Cunningham

Dublin senior boss Ger Cunningham will have watched the action anxiously with next Saturday’s Leinster replay against Galway in mind. Cian O’Callaghan and Colm Cronin – starters in last Sunday’s draw – looked to have emerged unscathed thankfully from his viewpoint as their hectic schedule continues.

But there’s food for thought for him after the performance of Cian Boland tonight. Boland, an unused sub last Sunday, gave a classy performance at midfield and hit 1-3 from play. The attacking displays of Sean Treacy, younger brother of Dublin senior David, and Paul Winters was also noticeable as they impressed.

5. Another fine U21 hurling advertisement

The U21 hurling championship commenced last week with three Leinster clashes but as the first TG4 televised encounter, tonight’s tie marked a debut in the eyes of hurling fans.

The game offered further evidence as to why this competition captures the imagination. It wasn’t a game shorn of errors – 27 wides between both sides proves there was errant shooting – but there was no shortage of excitement.

There was an increase of quality in the second-half with 34 scores throughout providing great entertainment for those in attendance and those watching from home. The dramatic finale rounded off another fine advertisement for the grade.

Late goal gives Kilkenny dramatic win over Dublin in Leinster U21 hurling thriller

We’ll know tomorrow whether the Dublin-Galway hurling replay will be televised

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About the author:

Fintan O'Toole

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