Not for the first time, Kilkenny ravaged Dublin’s designs in the Championship, overpowering Mattie Kenny’s side on a beautiful summer evening in Parnell Park.
The small ground was sold out in anticipation of an exciting match, Dublin started the day undefeated and led the group. But after an exciting and competitive first half, they were completely mastered from there to the finish.
Kilkenny was disappointed by a narrow defeat at Salthill and while it’s nothing new to see them confide in determination to any challenge, there was real venom and purpose to their game after the break.
Led by a Mossy Keoghan, they won the second half 2-14 to 0-6. That spoke volumes about their superiority.
With Wexford dropping a point to Westmeath, only Galway pitchers are assured of group stage survival.
But Dublin travels to Salthill this Saturday and faces a major task of trying to rally the ghosts after this emphatic defeat. Kilkenny will host Wexford on the same day and look well on track to reach the Leinster final and stay on track for a third provincial win in a row.
Keoghan was one of four late changes to their team and they all went well. The Tullaroan man justified his entry 2-1, his first goal coming in the 28th minute when the teams were tied, with 18 points shared.
They had drawn six times in a heady game of hard and unwavering hits, with Padraig Walsh being shown a yellow card near the break.
Keoghan won a wonderful flying throw from Adrian Mullen and sent his shot past Sean Brennan for his first goal.
Dublin rallied with scores from Donal Burke and Rian McBride, but Kilkenny ended the half with points from Alan Murphy and Keoghan to lead 1-11 to 0-11.
It could have taken more, but a walk and one attempt failed, but there was no sign of Dublin’s collapse to follow.
Conor Burke and Chris Crummey put in three of Dublin’s 11 points in the first half and Daire Gray scored an inspiring score, as did Fergal Whitely but, ominously, they were unable to pose a goal threat, with Ronan Hayes failing, having a lot of impact and often drifting away the field.
Aidan Mellet was taken off the track before half time, while Mark Schutte added more muscle mass. Burke had five of their scores, two out of the game.
From there, Kilkenny stormed off. In the first half, Cian Kenny, another of their late inclusions, scored three points in the front line and shortly after the break brought his tally to four.
That move took Dublin by surprise, but the goals were the real difference in their timing, filling Kilkenny with more confidence.
At one point, TJ Reid had a shot at goal from a daring distance that smacked of hubris, but by then he could afford the indulgence while his team was rolling out. He finished the game 1-7, four points off freestyle.
Dublin is lost in the snow storm. In the second half, McBride forced a save on Eoin Murphy, while James Madden fired a shot low over the goal, but they were unable to make progress against a superb Kilkenny defense as they had to miss Huw Lawlor through injury.
Conor Delaney came in and kept the reins tight on Hayes, while Mikey Butler had a great match, and Tommy Walsh also relentlessly rebuffing Dublin’s attack.
After being five points down early in the second half, two scores from Donal Burke left Dublin with just a goal with 11 minutes played.
But a minute later, Keoghan scored his second goal after some initial work by TJ Reid, Keoghan spinning around and firing low to the net from about 20 yards.
In the 54th minute, Reid scored their third goal, the Dublin defense couldn’t keep up with his run, and the rest was a painful wait for the home crowd to whistle.
Alan Murphy and Richie Reid were also recalled to the starting squad and Murphy took his chance by scoring three points in the first half and putting in a massive shift.
Beside him Adrian Mullen was back in his old form, which will greatly encourage Kilkenny, the Ballyale man who scored five points from the game, with some exemplary attacks from long range.
Worryingly for Wexford, Eoin Cody had a relatively quiet evening and didn’t register until nearly an hour after the game. Walter Walsh was eliminated at half time with Padraig Walsh following him in the 48th minute.
Dublin’s best hurling came in the first half when Conor Burke played well, contributing two points, when they were a match for their rivals, who last defeated them in the championship in 2013.
When these counties met in the competition, Kilkenny inflicted one of those defeats on Dublin that seemed to make it an insult to consider that the result could have been otherwise.
But Dublin came to this in hopes of leaving a mark and in the fourth year of Mattie Kenny’s reign there was a sense that they could.
There was definitely a sense that they needed that. They’re downstairs, but they’re not out. Kilkenny is back on track after the defeat in Galway.
Scorers – Kilkenny: TJ Reid 1-7 (5f); M Keoghan 2-1; A Mullen 0-5; C Kenny 0-4; A Murphy 0-3; E Cody 0-2; B Ryan, J Donnelly, C Buckley 0-1 each. Dublin: D Burke 0-9 (7f); C Burke 0-2; F Whitely, R McBride, C Crummey, D Gray, M Schutte, E Dillon 0-1 each.
Kilkenny: E Murphy; M Butler, C Delaney, T Walsh; M Carey, R Reid, P Deegan; A Mullen, a Murphy; W Walsh, TJ Reid, P Walsh; C Kenny, M Keoghan, E Cody. Substitutes: J Donnelly for W Walsh (ht); B Ryan for P Walsh (48); C Fogarty for A Murphy (59); C Buckley for Mullen (65); D Blanchfield for Butler (67).
Dublin: S Brennan; J Madden, E O’Donnell, C O’Callaghan; D Ryan, P Smyth, D Gray; C Burke, C Crummey; D Sutcliffe, R McBride, D Burke; F Whitely, R Hayes, A Mellett. Substitutes: M Schutte for Mellett (32); E Dillon for Hayes (55); A Dunphy for Gray (59); J Bellew for O’Donnell (63); D Keogh for McBride (65).
Referee: T Walsh (Waterford)