Seconds from slaying Kilkenny, they were deprived of it by a TJ Reid injury-time equaliser a moment after Joey Boland had put the Dubs ahead for the first time since the 41st minute.
Dublin, though, accomplished a few things. A year to the day after they fell flat on their faces having been convinced they would beat Kilkenny, yesterday was about pride restored.
Sharing the same stage, venue and date as 12 months ago, their two displays couldn’t have been further apart.
June 23, 2012 was a nadir for Dublin hurling, their 18-point spanking a shuddering result that was still evident when Clare sent them out of the Championship a few weeks later.
Fifteen days after their attitude in the drawn game against Wexford was described as constipated, here their hurling was flushing with confidence.
Kilkenny, on the other hand, looked devoid of the assuredness with which we’ve characterised them under Brian Cody.
Their forwards, for one, underperformed. But for Walter Walsh contributing 1-4 of their 1-7 total from play, Dublin may have had more than a one-point lead before Reid’s rescue score.
Colin Fennelly and Richie Power were both called ashore but then Eoin Larkin and Richie Hogan were fortunate not to have been replaced.
Cody only made four substitutes but had there been more options on the bench he would have used them such was the ineffectiveness of an attack badly missing Henry Shefflin.
Credit must go to the Dublin defence, especially Liam Rushe, Peter Kelly and Paul Schutte with Johnny McCaffrey complementing them nicely as a sweeper, for manfully coping with the amount of ball that came their way. But Cody is picking from a shallower pool right now and with Paul Murphy having sustained an ankle injury and Shefflin and Michael Fennelly unavailable for next Saturday’s replay there is concern that if their team is not caught in Portlaoise, Galway can snag them in Croke Park a week later.
Dublin, even on the back of three games in 15 days, will make their way down the M7 again with confidence.
It mightn’t have been a game brimming with quality but the 9,674 O’Moore Park crowd saw a Dublin side stand up to their much-vaunted opponents.
Their goose looked all but cooked at half-time when they failed to take advantage of the wind, going into the interval at eight points apiece. Shooting 10 wides in that period, the sense was Dublin would be made pay.
Paul Ryan was taken off early having missed a seventh minute goal chance and Kilkenny made a three-point lead by the 10th minute with Walter Walsh dangerous in the right corner.
A Danny Sutcliffe point was Dublin’s first in the 13th minute and they levelled it up thanks to Joey Boland five minutes later.
Dublin, were the more aggressive side but it was spilling out into frees, which Larkin was converting.
Walsh, though, was their only attacking threat from play and his third point in the 28th minute pushed Kilkenny 0-8 to 0-5 ahead. It turned out to be their last score for 19 minutes as Dublin finished the first half and started the new one the stronger, Ryan’s replacement David O’Callaghan sliding over the first of five Dublin points.
Larkin had a chance before the end of the half to push Kilkenny ahead but sent the free wide but it was nominal compared to the wasteful attempts Dublin were making.
Boland, who was a constant force in general play, sailed over a point in the 41st minute to push Dublin two ahead and then came the Kilkenny goal, Walsh flashing a shot past Gary Maguire after the ball was broken down by Colin Fennelly.
Dublin responded via McCaffrey to equalise and it was a sign of things to come from the captain who performed a fine sweeping role around Rushe.
Kilkenny pushed Cillian Buckley back as spare man and Walsh popped over his fourth point shortly after a Larkin free to claim a two-point gain.
Boland could have cut the margin to one but fired wide from a central area into the wind before substitute Mark Schutte sliced over an effort from a difficult angle.
Conal Keaney tied the game for a seventh time in the 65th minute and hit the post two minutes later. Boland, though, was on hand to put Dublin in front after Keaney was upended only for Larkin to punish a mistimed Ryan O’Dwyer shoulder on Aidan Fogarty.
Lester Ryan, Kilkenny’s find in the National League, was then blown up by Johnny Ryan for charging. Boland duly converted the free but there was still time for Reid to earn Kilkenny a reprieve. Or was it a stay of execution?
Scorers for Dublin: J Boland (0-9, 7fs); D Sutcliffe, P Ryan (free), D O’Callaghan, P Schutte, J McCaffrey, S Durkin, M Schutte, C Keaney (0-1 each).
Scorers for Kilkenny: W Walsh (1-4); E Larkin 0-7 (all frees); R Hogan (0-2); TJ Reid (0-1).
Subs for Dublin: D O’Callaghan for P Ryan (19); M Schutte for C McCormack (half-time); S Durkin for D Sutcliffe (46); S Lambert for D Treacy (57); E Dillon for S Hiney (63).
Subs for Kilkenny: P Hogan for Murphy (inj 34); TJ Reid for M Rice (half-time); A Fogarty for C Fennelly (59); M Ruth for R Power (61).
Ref: Johnny Ryan (Tipperary)
DUBLIN: G Maguire; P Schutte, P Kelly, N Corcoran; S Hiney, L Rushe, M Carton; J McCaffrey, J Boland; C Keaney, R O’Dwyer, D Sutcliffe; C McCormack, D Treacy, P Ryan.
KILKENNY: E Murphy; P Murphy, JJ Delaney, C Fogarty; T Walsh, B Hogan, K Joyce; M Rice, L Ryan; C Buckley, R Power, E Larkin; W Walsh, R Hogan, C Fennelly.