Kilkenny 2-21 Dublin 0-9
The merciless Cats handed out a mauling to Dublin at O’Moore Park to roar into the Leinster SHC final.
Galway await in the decider, and on this sort of form, the defending champions will be hot favourites to lift an eighth provincial crown in a row.
Henry Shefflin’s return from injury with a 10-point tally added a gloss to a satisfactory evening for a Kilkenny side that performed with real intent and awesome power in Portlaoise.
For Dublin, it’s a time for deep reflection on what must be seen as a huge setback to Anthony Daly’s project, but they must pick themselves up and move on once they find out on Monday morning who their Qualifier opponents will be.
Dublin, with the wind in their backs, made a promising start, and had the Kilkenny defence unsettled in the opening stages.
Paul Ryan knocked over a couple of early points, before a superb solo effort from Danny Sutcliffe eased them into a 0-3 to 0-1 ahead.
But the reigning champions soon settled to their task, and squeezed the Dubs’ attack out of the game.
Liam Rushe got little change out of a dominant JJ Delaney, while Paul Murphy and Jackie Tyrell were solid, and Brian Hogan’s outstanding display at centre back provided the platform which was to launch a series of devastating attacks.
TJ Reid, Henry Shefflin and Richie Power were all on target to bring Kilkenny level by the 13th minute.
And in the 17th minute, a sweeping move saw Reid swap passes with Power to drill home their first goal.
Conal Keaney was forced out of the game by injury as Dublin’s attacking fortunes took another turn for the worse, and they were rocked by a second Kilkenny goal in the 27th minute.
Colin Fennelly created the opening for Power to dart in and fire a low shot past Gary Maguire for a nine points lead.
Shefflin banged swept over his sixth converted free for a commanding 2-10 to 0-6 interval lead.
The All-Ireland champions continued their relentless bombardment, adding further scores through Richie and Paddy Hogan, Shefflin and Power
Rushe’s switch to midfield failed to spark a Dublin revival, and with Jackie Tyrell in vintage form in the Kilkenny defence, there was little sign that Anthony Daly’s men had the capacity to turn the game around.
They needed heroics from All-Star goalkeeper Maguire, who made a terrific double save from Power and Hogan and later denied Shefflin with a spectacular stop.
Power tormented the Dublin defence from start to finish, his 1-3 tally telling only a small part of the story of his contribution, while Shefflin, Paddy Hogan and Eoin Larkin completed the demolition.
Dublin points from Alan McCrabbe and David O’Callaghan were almost irrelevant as they limped out of the Leinster Championship and into the Qualifiers.
Kilkenny scorers: R Power 1-3, TJ Reid 1-1, H Shefflin 0-10 (10f), P Hogan, E Larkin, R Hogan 0-2 each, A Fogarty 0-1.
Dublin scorers: P Ryan 0-4 (3f), D Sutcliffe, R O’Dwyer, D Treacy, A McCrabbe (f), D O’Callaghan 0-1 each.
Kilkenny: D Herity, P Murphy, JJ Delaney, J Tyrell, T Walsh, B Hogan, R Doyle, C Buckley, P Hogan, H Shefflin, TJ Reid, E Larkin, C Fennelly, R Power, R Hogan.
Subs: N Hickey for Delaney, A Fogarty for Buckley, M Ruth for Fennelly, K Joyce for Walsh
Dublin: G Maguire, N Corcoran, P Kelly, T Brady, S Hiney, J Boland, M Carton, J McCaffrey, S Durkan, C McCormack, D Sutcliffe, C Keaney, P Ryan, L Rushe, R O’Dwyer.
Subs: D Treacy for Keaney, R Trainor for Corcoran, A McCrabbe for McCormack, R O’Carroll for Durkan, D O’Callaghan for Ryan
Referee: B Kelly (Offaly).