Round 1 of the Leinster MHC. Dublin 2-8, Kilkenny 0-3.
Had you detoured into the local bookmakers on your way home from the Marble City that afternoon, you’d have got fair odds on Kilkenny extending their lead at the head of the All-Ireland roll of honour four months down the line.
It is Kilkenny we’re dealing with, after all, and Pat Hoban’s charges bounced back with four wins on the trot, including a comprehensive Leinster final win over said Dublin outfit, to book their September spot.
Should we be surprised by the manner in which they recovered from that opening day hammering? Not in the slightest. The fixture arrived three weeks after two Kilkenny colleges, St Kieran’s and Kilkenny CBS, contested the Croke Cup final. The fixture may have offset the spring preparations of Hoban’s side, but it served to underline the wealth of underage talent in the county.
Kilkenny face the sternest examination tomorrow, a Limerick team hell-bent on atoning for the Hawk-Eye injustice that marred the 2013 campaign. The Leinster champions rely heavily on inside pair Liam Blanchfield and Alan Murphy to tally the bulk of their scores — the pair accounted for 16 points against Waterford last time out.
Limerick boast a more even spread, with each member of their front six on the mark in the semi-final win over Galway. Barry Nash and midfielder Ronan Lynch are their standout operators, but keep an eye out for the likes of Tom Morrissey and Peter Casey. The Kilkenny half-back line of Pat Lyng, Jason Cleere and Darragh Joyce were without fault against Waterford. Again though, there is more balanced outlook to the Limerick rearguard, Andrew La Touche Cosgrave anchoring the defence from centre-back.
* Verdict: Limerick