Business as usual for Cats

SPRINGTIME in Kilkenny and the Cats are back on the field. One week later than planned, given the postponement of last week’s game with Cork, but otherwise it’s normal service resumed, as they beat Dublin a one-sided League encounter not likely to linger in the memory.

They had far too much craft for Dublin in sunny Nowlan Park yesterday, and the crowd of 3,500 had young Richie Hogan to admire — another one of those nuggety Kilkenny corner-forwards whose quick footwork and tight control may be given free rein on warmer days to come.

Dublin’s defensive discipline was good — Kilkenny only won their first scoreable free after 26 minutes — but there was a feeling of inevitability about the All-Ireland champions’ goal five minutes before the break. TJ Reid made the break on the right before feeding Hogan, whose finish was neat. With Eddie Brennan running riot with five points from play, Kilkenny were 1-12 to 0-7 up at the half.

Dublin went for goal from two 21-metre frees before the break and though unsuccessful, they were obviously encouraged: Ross O’Carroll pointed and then Kevin Flynn touched home a goal when TJ Ryan blocked out a long Stuart Mullen free. However, Hogan and sub Willie O’Dwyer hit points to keep daylight between the sides. Kilkenny led by eight at the three-quarter mark and were still eight up at the end, sub Peadar Carton’s goal on the final whistle giving some respectability to the scoreline.

“It was a good win,” said Kilkenny manager Brian Cody afterwards. “We started well and got scores on the board and we had the few points of a cushion the whole time.

“We’ve been looking forward to the game. We’ve had some decent hurling practice in the last few weeks and there’s good competition for places. All the matches are a test. Dublin were decent — if we weren’t going flat out we wouldn’t have won. But there are certainly big tests ahead.”

Cork will provide one of them, as the Cats manager noted: “We’ll play Cork, no problem at all, any time they want. We let Cork know before the game was called off that we’d go down and play them whenever that game is fixed. That’s the way it’ll be, there’ll be no problem.

“It was a totally internal Cork thing, I’d have nothing to say on it and while people can comment on it all they like, nobody knows the ins and outs of it. The conclusion of it is what we desired. We want to play Cork like everybody else.”

His Dublin counterpart, Tommy Naughton, was understandably disappointed.

“That’s the All-Ireland champions and that’s what they are — awesome. We’re disappointed in that we thought we’d give them a better game than that. There’s not too many like them — at least I hope so!

“We’ll put it down as a bad day at the office, but it just demonstrates the gulf that’s there.”

* The billiard-table surface in Nowlan Park yesterday was a fitting tribute to the late Jimmy Bergin who died last week. There was a minute’s silence before the game for Bergin, groundsman at the stadium from 1948 to this year.

Scorers: Kilkenny: E. Brennan 0-6, R. Hogan 1-2, R. Power 0-3 (0-1 f), J. Fitzpatrick, M. Comerford, E. Reid, W. O’Dwyer, 0-2 each, A. Fogarty 0-1. Dublin: S. Mullen 0-6 (fs), K Flynn 1-1, P. Carton 1-0, J. McCaffrey, S. Lambert 0-1, R. O’Carroll 0-1 each.

KILKENNY: PJ Ryan, S. Cummins, JJ Delaney, J. Tyrrell, T. Walsh, B. Hogan, J. Ryall, J. Fitzpatrick, M. Fennelly, R. Power, E. Brennan, TJ Reid, R. Hogan, M. Comerford, A. Fogarty.

Subs: W O’Dwyer for Power (34); E. Reid for Comerford, (56); PJ Delaney for Walsh, (60); C. Hickey for Tyrrell, (64).

DUBLIN: G. Maguire, P. Brennan, S. Hiney, P. Bergin, M. Carton, T. Brady, J. Boland, J. McCaffrey, S. Lambert, S. Mullen, D. Qualter, K. Flynn, D. O’Callaghan, P. O’Driscoll, R. O’Carroll.

Subs: D. Curtin for O’Driscoll (47); P Carton for O’Carroll (54); G. Bennett for Lambert (58); Burke for M. Carton (59).

Referee: B Gavin (Offaly).

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