Brian Cody’s 21st championship campaign got off to a winning start thanks to an inspirational display by captain TJ Reid.
The Ballyhale Shamrocks man blasted 2-11 as Kilkenny came from six points down in the opening half to see off a Dublin challenge which wilted in the second-half.
Switches made by Cody worked out as Padraig Walsh dominated at centre-back when moved there and Hue Lawlor thrived when he went to full-back.
Dublin, looking for only their second championship win in 76 years against Kilkenny, led by 1-13 to 0-12 at the break, following a half in which they were awarded two penalties for fouls on full-forward Liam Rushe.
But the big talking point of the opening half came two minutes from the interval when TJ Reid tried to manufacture a Kilkenny goal by taking a quick free to the unmarked Billy Ryan but Dublin selector Greg Kennedy, the former Galway defender, caught the ball having entered the field to issue an instruction to a player.
Cody and the Kilkenny management were incensed by the intervention of the Dublin official, adding to their frustration after a half when six of their 0-12 tally came from frees by Reid.
The sides were level three times in the opening eight minutes but Dublin pulled ahead when Sean Moran blasted home the first of their penalties after ten minutes after Rushe was fouled by Conor Fogarty.
Nine Dublin players hit the target in the opening half as they pushed on and they opened up a 1-11 to 0-8 lead after 28 minutes before Kilkenny hit back with another couple of frees from Reid.
Rushe was then fouled at the other end, this time by Paul Murphy, for a second Dublin penalty but Moran’s shot flew over the bar, another let-off for a Kilkenny side who saw Paul Ryan’s goal effort flash inches the wrong side of the left post moments earlier.
The accuracy of Reid from frees saw Kilkenny cut the gap to 1-15 to 0-15 to Dublin after 42 minutes.
Kilkenny drafted in the 2014 Hurler of the Year Richie Hogan in a bid to rescue the game but it was Reid who got them back on level terms after 49 minutes.
Padraig Walsh set the move in motion before Reid exchanged passes with Colin Fennelly and then shot to the bottom left corner and level the sides.
Chris Crummey and debutant Adrian Mullen exchanged points before Reid blasted home a penalty after Colin Fennelly was fouled after 59 minutes and the Cats never looked back.
Richie Leahy and Tommy Walsh quickly added points to lead by 2-19 to 1-17 and Dublin never looked like getting the goal they needed to get back in contention.
Scorers for Kilkenny: TJ Reid 2-12 (0-11f, 1-0pen, 0-1 ’65), A Murphy 0-3, R Leahy 0-2, G Aylward 0-2, W Walsh 0-1, P Walsh 0-1, A Mullen 0-1, T Walsh 0-1.
Scorers for Dublin: D Treacy 0-6 (6f), S Moran 1-2 (1-0pen, 0-2f), D Sutcliffe 0-4, F Whitely 0-2, C Crummey 0-2, D O’Connell 0-1, P Ryan 0-1, T Connolly 0-1, L Rushe 0-1, S Treacy 0-1.
Kilkenny: D Brennan; P Murphy, P Deegan, T Walsh; E Morrissey, H Lawlor, C Fogarty; P Walsh, A Murphy; A Mullen, W Walsh, TJ Reid; B Ryan, C Fennelly, G Aylward.
Subs for Kilkenny: R Leahy for Morrissey (half-time), R Hogan for Ryan (40).
Dublin: A Nolan; D O’Connell, E O’Donnell, P Smyth; S Moran, C Crummey, S Barrett; S Treacy, T Connolly; D Treacy, D Sutcliffe, F Whitely; P Ryan, L Rushe, E Dillon.
Subs for Dublin: R McBride for Connolly (51), C Keaney for Ryan (60), C Boland for S Treacy (67), J Malone for D Treacy (70), R Hayes for Rushe (70).
Referee: Cathal McAllister (Cork)
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