After seeing his side trail by 0-2 to 1-11 at half-time after playing against a strong breeze, Kilkenny boss Brian Cody pitched Eddie Brennan and Michael Fennelly into the fray on 44 minutes, and Aidan Fogarty on 51 minutes.
With a full eight minutes left, it looked as if the Cats would come up trumps as they had scored a whopping 2-5 without reply, reducing their deficit to just three points — 2-12 to 2-15.
All three subs played a significant part in the Kilkenny revival, Fennelly shooting a glorious goal, and Fogarty hitting two points. But Dublin managed to hang on for their first victory at senior level over Kilkenny since the 2003 final in the same competition, ex-Tipperary player Ryan O’Dwyer pointing two frees as against Fogarty’s second point.
Kilkenny began the game with only three members of the starting fifteen against Cork last Sunday, while Dublin included seven starters from last week’s clash with Tipperary. .
But despite the presence of a number of fringe players on the field, a strong wind, and driving rain and hailstones in the second half, the hurling was invariably of a decent quality, and the exchanges were consistently contested with a high level of intensity.
“We could have been out of sight at half-time. We had 20 scoring chances in the first-half compared to their five,” said Dublin boss Anthony Daly.
“It’s great to win the Walsh Cup, particularly as a few of our lads were ineligible for today having played with UCD in the competition.
“But we won’t be getting carried away. We have Offaly in the league next Sunday at Tullamore, and they gave us a right trimming last year.”
Brian Cody said: “Our second-half performance was decent, but we were always chasing the game. Dublin have been improving steadily for a long time, and they have a collection of very good hurlers.”
Of the peripheral players, Dublin midfielder Conor Clinton produced a five-star display, bagging a fine 1-4 from the engine room, and nominal corner-forward Dáire Plunkett, who adopted a roving commission but still managed to score 1-1, will also have impressed Anthony Daly.
Clinton shot his goal on 13 minutes after Ryan O’Dwyer’s penalty had been saved by goalkeeper Colin McGrath, while Plunkett found the net on 46 minutes after being set up by Liam Ryan.
Of the Kilkenny non-regulars, corner-forward Eoin Guinan most often caught the eye with his lightning pace and excellent control.
Scorers for Dublin: C Clinton 1-4, R O’Dwyer 0-6 (3f), D Plunkett 1-1, S Ryan 0-3, D O’Dwyer, L Ryan, J McCaffrey (’65) 0-1 each.
Scorers for Kilkenny: T J Reid 1-6 (1-4f, 0-1 ‘65’), M Fennelly 1-0, A Fogarty 0-2, M Rice, J Fitzpatrick, J Mulhall, N Walsh, E Guinan 0-1 each.
DUBLIN: A Nolan; R Trainor, N Corcoran, M Quilty; J Sheanon, J McCaffrey, S Durkin: L Rushe, C Clinton; S Ryan, L Ryan, C McCormack; D O’Dwyer, R O’Dwyer, D Plunkett.
Subs: D O’Callaghan for C McCormack (half-time), C McCormack for J Sheanon (61), P Carton for S Ryan (61), S Ryan for Clinton (67), J Sheanon for L Ryan (72).
KILKENNY: C McGrath; J Dalton, N Hickey, M Kavanagh; P Murphy, J Tyrrell, C Fogarty; M Rice, J Fitzpatrick; J Mulhall, P Horgan, N Walsh; M Ruth, T J Reid, E Guinan.
Subs: M Fennelly for Walsh (44), E Brennan for Ruth (44), A Fogarty for Hogan (51).
Referee: B Gavin (Offaly).