Dublin let lead slip against Kilkenny

Kilkenny 5-16 Dublin 6-12

Kilkenny 5-16 Dublin 6-12

Dublin suffered a one-point defeat for the second week running as Kilkenny completed a stunning comeback at Nowlan Park.

Late goals from Richie Hogan, Richie Power and Matthew Ruth denied the Dubs who had led for the most of this pulsating Division 1A duel.

Danny Sutcliffe, Paul Ryan and Conor McCormack all netted in the first half to leave the Cats 3-8 to 1-9 behind at the break.

But Ryan O’Dwyer’s sending-off hampered Dublin, particularly in the closing stages, and Kilkenny fought back superbly to make it three wins from three.

This goal-fest will live long in the memories of those present to witness it, with both sides showing great intent to move the ball at pace and create close range scoring opportunities.

Dublin welcomed back goalkeeper Alan Nolan, David O'Callaghan and Liam Rushe into their starting line-up for this meeting of the reigning All-Ireland champions and last year's Allianz Hurling league winners.

The Dubs' physical approach paid dividends and good harrying and tackling from the visitors prevented Kilkenny from setting the early pace.

Paul Ryan knocked over the opening two points, the first a free from a narrow angle, before Eoin Larkin replied for the Cats for whom Tommy Walsh had the task of marking the highly-rated Sutcliffe.

Kilkenny's midfield tandem of Michael Fennelly and Michael Rice had a battle on their hands from Dublin skipper John McCaffrey and Simon Lambert, and clever use of possession created the first goal of the game after nine minutes.

A high ball in was touched home by Ryan past net minder David Herity, giving Anthony Daly's men a 1-2 to 0-1 lead. Power snapped back a point for Kilkenny, converting a free after a foul on Larkin which earned McCaffrey a yellow card.

Former All-Star Alan McCrabbe had to come on for the injured Ryan who popped over a final free before his unfortunate departure.

Aidan Fogarty and Richie Hogan strung together two points for the Cats before Sutcliffe launched over a terrific score on the quarter hour mark, beginning a run of four successive Dublin points with McCrabbe nabbing a brace.

Power notched two in reply for Kilkenny, but Dublin were carrying the greater threat up front. Sutcliffe took centre stage again, creating the space for a drilled 26th minute past Herity which opened up a 2-7 to 0-6 lead.

The Naomh Jude clubman, who only turned 20 last month, tagged on another point but Kilkenny roused themselves with a much-needed 30th minute goal from Fogarty.

Brian Cody's side started to find their rhythm when Larkin and Power (0-2) pointed soon after, reducing the margin to 2-8 to 1-9, only for the momentum to swung back in Dublin's favour right on the cusp of half-time.

Sutcliffe's fellow wing forward McCormack swooped on a breaking ball to hammer home the visitors' third goal and give them real hope of pulling off the first win of their league title defence.

The second half was barely underway when 'Dotsy' O'Callaghan incredibly added a fourth goal to extend the advantage out to 4-8 to 1-10 and Kilkenny looked in serious trouble.

The sending off of Dublin marksman O'Dwyer, who received a second yellow card for a strike on Power, opened up further opportunities for the Noresiders to push forward.

Larkin, Power, Richie Hogan and TJ Reid bolstered their scoring tally with some fine points and suddenly the gap was down to 4-10 to 1-14.

Dublin offered a familiar response when, with 54 minutes gone, Sutcliffe took his tally to 2-3 by cutting in on an angled run and rolling home his second goal of his end-to-end encounter.

Just moments later, Colin Fennelly raised a green flag at the other end and as the intensity increased to near-Championship pace, Rushe landed an inspirational point to steady the Dublin ship at 5-11 to 2-14 and Lambert followed up with another.

Daly's side surely had the finish line in sight, armed with a seven-point buffer and just ten minutes of normal time left? Amazingly, the Cats thwarted them in the end with a helter-skelter finish full of trademark grit, panache, classy finishing and an infectious spirit that has been the hallmark of Kilkenny teams over the years.

A simply outstanding shot from Hogan - a real early contender for goal of the season - rippled the net in the 63rd minute, seemingly giving the Cats an extra spring in their step. The script was torn up yet again though when substitute Eamon Dillon goaled at the other end just a minute later.

Now 6-12 to 3-15 ahead, could Dublin hang on for a famous triumph on Kilkenny soil? They were hanging in there even after a Hogan point and a well-taken goal from Power, who rode a strong challenge and fired home his side's fourth goal.

The scoring dried up in the dying minutes until Ruth smashed home the injury-time winner to leave the Dubs, with six goals to their name, utterly crestfallen.

It was a hugely commendable effort from Daly's charges, but their challenge for back-to-back league crowns is at an end.

Scorers - Kilkenny: R Power 1-8 (0-5f, 0-1 '65'), R Hogan 1-3, A Fogarty 1-1, E Larkin 0-3, C Fennelly, M Ruth 1-0 each, TJ Reid 0-1.

Dublin: D Sutcliffe 2-3, P Ryan 1-3 (0-2f), A McCrabbe 0-4 (0-3f), C McCormack, D O'Callaghan, E Dillon 1-0 each, L Rushe, M O'Brien 0-1 each

KILKENNY: D Herity; P Murphy, JJ Delaney, N Hickey; T Walsh, B Hogan, R Doyle; M Fennelly, M Rice; TJ Reid, R Power, C Fennelly; R Hogan, E Larkin, A Fogarty.

Subs used: M Ruth for Fogarty (53 mins), J Tyrrell for Delaney (57), J Mulhall for C Fennelly (60).

DUBLIN - A Nolan; N Corcoran, P Schutte, R Trainor; M Carton, J Boland, J McCaffrey; S Durkin, S Lambert; C McCormack, R O'Dwyer, D Sutcliffe; D O'Callaghan, L Rushe, P Ryan.

Subs used: A McCrabbe for Ryan (14 mins), E Dillon for O'Callaghan (48), M O'Brien for Durkin (48), D Treacy for Lambert (66), S Stapleton for McCormack (68).

Referee: Barry Kelly (Westmeath).

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