Business as usual for Kilkenny

kilkenny jersey

Kilkenny 1-15 Dublin 1-4
By Brendan O’Brien
WEXFORD and Offaly may have pleased the romantics in Leinster’s senior grade this year, but at minor it was business as usual.

Kilkenny collected their 14th provincial title in 15 years at Croke Park yesterday.

The scoreline says everything about the limitations of a Dublin side that offered plenty of spirit and perspiration but little in the way of inspiration.

The outsiders managed just three scores from play all afternoon yet, ironically, Michael Smyth’s goal for Dublin after 34 minutes created home expectations that the game could have developed into a contest.

The midfielder’s ground strike off the butt of Liam Tierney’s goalpost and into the net left only five points between the sides (1-9 to 1-4) and was the perfect riposte to Gavin Nolan’s green flag on the stroke of half-time that seemed to have signed and sealed the deal for the holders. Regretfully, Dublin failed to score again as Kilkenny won out pulling up.

It was a disappointingly limp ending to a game that saw Dublin open the scoring through half-forward Eoin Moran after only three minutes. But time and again they failed to build on their possession against a mean-spirited Cats’ backline.

By comparison, the favourites were finding the route to goal significantly easier. Their entire full-forward line had scored after six minutes with left-corner forward Eoin Guinan the pick of the attackers. By the game’s end he had wracked up six points - all from play.

It was a point from Richard Hogan after 19 minutes that summed the game. Dublin had spent the previous 90 seconds working the ball in and around their forward line to no avail before the faltering move broke down and the sliotar was swiftly transferred at speed to the Danesfort youngster by the Cats’ defence. A split second later and Hogan had flicked it over the bar - simple but most effective. A total of 10 wides, four of them from very scorable frees, may suggest complacency on a day when it was all too easy or it may suggest a concern of deeper proportions. As usual, we await Kilkenny’s march beyond the borders of Leinster before we can find out the answer to that.

KILKENNY: L Tierney; J Maher, K Joyce, W Norton; N Prendergast, R Maher, S Prendergast; P Hartley, N Delahunty; G Nolan (1-2), P Hogan (0-1f), E O’Donoghue; R Hogan (0-2), M Nolan (0-4f), E Guinan (0-6).

Subs: M Ruth for N Delahunty 35, T Moloney for G Nolan 55, E Walsh for W Norton 58, JJ Kenny for S Prendergast 60, M Aylaward for R Hogan 62.

DUBLIN: P Curtin; T Brady, S Costello, J McCaffrey; T Diamond, J Duffy, I Fleming; M Smyth (1-0), W Lowry; R Rabbitte, D Webster, E Moran (0-1); S Loughlin (0-1), P Carton, A McCrabbe (0-2, 1f).

Subs: B McLoughlin for S Loughlin 29, S Costello for J Boland 30, D Keating for T Diamond 41m C Lane for F Rabbitte 50, J Bridgeman for E Moran 53.

Referee: B Gavin (Offaly).