Kilkenny 4-17 Dublin 1-15
The Cats are back. Kilkenny returned to form with a vengeance at Croke Park, where they brushed aside the challenge of Dublin to win the Leinster SHC title.
Having lost last year’s All-Ireland final and this season’s NHL decider, Brian Cody’s men have clearly regained an appetite for success, and the style and power they displayed gave them a huge boost as they step up their challenge for All-Ireland honours.
There was never any doubt that the Cats would collect their 68th provincial title, and a seventh in a row, such was their hunger and desire in front of a crowd of 33,814 at GAA Headquarters.
Eoin Larkin, operating at full forward, crashed home Kilkenny’s first goal in the 11th minute, taking Colin Fennelly’s pass to give Gary Maguire no chance.
Earlier, they had opened up a three points lead through Shefflin (2) and Michael Rice, before Paul Ryan opened Dublin’s account in the tenth minute.
Michael Fennelly was a towering figure at midfield, while Tommy Walsh and Brian Hogan ruled the air at the back.
Richie Power made it 1-4 to 0-2, and provided the assist for Colin Fennelly to ghost past Oisin Gough and finish firom an angle for his side’s second goal on 20 minutes.
Dublin were living off scraps, but pulled back points through Alan McCrabbe and Ryan, who converted a huge free.
Larkin swept over a point to reassert the Cats’ supremacy, but they lived dangerously at times, and goalkeeper David Herity had to stretch to clear off the line as the ball spun off from a goalmouth scramble.
Kilkenny led by 2-10 to 0-7 at half-time, and tightened their grip with a third goal seven minutes into the second half.
Paul Murphy broke up a Dublin attack, and it was TJ Reid who sent Shefflin in to give Maguire no chance with a clinical finish.
Dublin substitutes Maurice O’Brien and Daire Plunkett responded with points, and as Kilkenny rallied again, goalkeeper Maguire pulled off a superb save to deny Larkin.
Paul Ryan brought his tally to eight converted frees, and in the 57th minute, opted to smash one, and hit the net from 20 metres to narrow the gap to six points.
Less than a minute later, however, Kilkenny grabbed their fourth, another screamer, this time from midfielder Michael Rice.
Shefflin brought his tally to 1-8 as the Cats purred at the capture of the county’s 68th Leinster title.
Kilkenny: D Herrity, N Hickey, JJ Delaney, J Tyrrell, T Walsh, B Hogan (0-1), P Murphy, M Fennelly, M Rice (1-2), TJ Reid, R Power (0-1), E Larkin (1-2), C Fennelly (1-0), H Shefflin (1-9, 0-7f), R Hogan (0-2).
Subs: P Hogan for Delaney, J Fitzpatrick for Reid, J Mulhall for larkin, M Ruth for Power
Dublin: G Maguire, N Corcoran, P Kelly, O Gough; J McCaffrey, J Boland, S Durkin, L Rushe, A McCrabbe (0-2), C McCormack (0-1), C Keaney (0-1), S Lambert, D O'Callaghan, P Ryan (1-9, 1-9f), P Carton.
Subs: M O’Brien (0-1) for McCormack, D Plunkett (0-1) for Lambert, P Schuttte for Gough, D O’Dwyer for Carton, S Ryan for O’Callaghan
Referee: B Kelly (Westmeath).