By Peter McNamara
There were three hard-fought games in Division 1A of the Allianz National Hurling League - with the defending champions' visit to Cork, Dublin's first League game under new manager Ger Cunningham and Clare's visit to Pearse Stadium.
Here are three things we learned from the encounters.
Ger Cunningham has wasted no time in reshaping Dublin since he took charge of the side and the potential repositioning of Danny Sutcliffe to midfield could be one switch in particular that pays rich dividends in 2015.
Anthony Daly, and intriguingly at that, opted to utilise Sutcliffe primarily in the half-forward line. That was hugely effective as well as Sutcliffe soared there.
Daly, of course, is an extremely shrewd judge too but it always seemed Sutcliffe would be tailor-made for operating in the middle-third.
Sutcliffe scored two sumptuous points against Tipperary and his work-rate, generally, was excellent.
Cunningham, too, had him at wing-forward for spells in Parnell Park however a shift to partner either Conal Keaney or Shane Durkin at midfield could benefit Dublin enormously.
A potential replacement in the half-forward line for Sutcliffe could be Cian Boland.
He was a bundle of energy when introduced by Cunningham.
Yes, it was just their first league game of the campaign but is it possibly the case Cork are shy of in-game leaders against the bigger guns throughout the country?
For the last number of seasons the Rebels’ experienced players, perceived to be those expected to lead the side, especially in difficult circumstances, have, more often than not, produced performances below that of their capabilities.
The same was true on Saturday night as Cork scored 0-1 in open play, from the stick of Seamus Harnedy, in a key spell of their Allianz NHL Division 1A clash with Kilkenny, that being the period from the start of the second half right up until the 60th minute whereby Luke O’Farrell found the net.
Of course, we might be over-stating the issue however it will be interesting to see if such a pattern continues to rear its head.
They were pitched by one bookmaking firm as 9-4 outsiders to win on Saturday night, but Kilkenny know exactly what is required to achieve a victory at any point in a season and so were hilariously disregarded.
Brian Cody’s side appreciated that the sleeves had to be rolled up on Saturday night and that graft would, essentially, win the day.
And it did.
When the contest was in the melting pot in the initial quarter after half-time, both Walter Walsh and Richie Hogan guided Kilkenny’s ship into a winnable position through pure determination.
The main element of their performance worth noting while in search of new angles to assess the League and All-Ireland champions is that Mark Kelly could be mentally ready to become a regular in their starting line-up.
He took his 0-4 brilliantly and was a nuisance to deal with throughout for the Leesiders.