Swan leaves Cats in a flap

A powerful performance from Luke Swan left Kilkenny in a flap as the Dublin minor hurlers blasted their way to Leinster glory.

Swan leaves Cats in a flap

[team1]Dublin[/team1][score1]6-19[/score1][team2]Kilkenny[/team2][score2]7-12[/score2][/score]

Pierce Delaney

A powerful performance from Luke Swan left Kilkenny in a flap as the Dublin minor hurlers blasted their way to Leinster glory.

Full-forward Swan helped himself to 3-1 as the Dubs got the better of Kilkenny in a 13-goal thriller at O’Moore Park.

Swan, who was also named man of the match, teamed up with Liam Dunne (2-8) to put the Cats to the sword and seal a 16th provincial title for the capital side.

Dublin players celebrate after their victory over Kilkenny in the Leinster MHC final in Portlaoise. Picture: Ray McManus/Sportsfile
Dublin players celebrate after their victory over Kilkenny in the Leinster MHC final in Portlaoise. Picture: Ray McManus/Sportsfile

“We felt Dublin were a good team when we played them in Parnell Park in the round robin series,” said a disappointed Kilkenny manager Richie Mulrooney after the game.

Now we know that they’re a very good team. The physicality among their forwards, especially Ciaran Foley, Liam Dunne and Luke Swan was difficult to cope with it.

Two goals in little over 60 seconds from Dunne and Swan saw Dublin turn a one-point deficit (4-8 to 3-10) into a five-point lead right at the start of the second half.

It was a bitter pill for Kilkenny to swallow, especially after flexing their muscles and storming into an early lead.

Two lightning-fast goals from George Murphy, who pounced to flick a loose sliotar over the line and Killian Hogan, who lashed a venomous drive past Dublin netminder Jack Lambert, pushed the Cats 2-3 to 0-2 ahead after just six minutes.

However anything Kilkenny could do, so could Dublin. They showed they too knew the way to goal, going one better than their rivals as Liam Dunne, Luke Swan and Conor Murray all scored goals in quick succession to edge their side ahead. The game was only 10 minutes old, but five goals had already flown in (3-2 to 2-4).

Given the intense heat the speed of the game dropped a little after that, but the hurling remained at the highest level. Kilkenny stormed back in front, Cian Kenny sped on to a Conor Kelly pass and drilled a low shot into the bottom right corner (3-6 to 3-5), but the steadying influence of Dunne saw Dublin fight their way back in front approaching half-time.

It looked like they would hold that advantage, but they were rocked when Cathal O’Leary skilfully kicked a fourth Kilkenny goal in additional-time (4-8 to 3-10).

That swift second-half goal salvo gave Dublin something to hold on to, and they didn’t let it go. Conor Kelly led the Kilkenny fight-back, rifling an impressive long-range strike to the net to make it a one-point game by the 37th minute, but Dublin put the squeeze on and stifled Kilkenny’s main threat of Kelly, Ciaran Brennan and George Murphy.

A third Swan goal, plus three Dunne points gave Dublin a lead they would not lose (6-14 to 5-10).

Kilkenny did have the consolation of scoring late goals through Kelly and sub Jack Buggy, but Dublin wouldn’t be denied their day in the sun.

Dublin and Tipperary have booked their All-Ireland semi-final berths. Galway, Limerick and Kilkenny will contest a round-robin group to determine who gets the remaining two spots.

Scorers for Dublin: L Dunne (2-8, 0-6 frees, 0-1 65); L Swan (3-1); C Murray (1-2); C Foley, D Purcell (0-3 each); D Leavy, P Christie (0-1 each).

Scorers for Kilkenny: C Kelly (2-3, 0-3 frees); C O’Leary (1-2); C Kenny, G Murphy (1-1 each); K Hogan, J Buggy (1-0 each); D Maher, C Brennan (0-2 each); E Guilfoyle (0-1).

Dublin: J Lambert; K Byrne, C Hogan, F Murphy; E Carney, A O’Neill, I O hEither; D Leavy, D Power; C Murray, P Christie, C Foley; L Dunne, L Swan, D Purcell. Subs: C Walsh for Hogan (20), Seamus Fenton for Murray (44), Aaron O’Toole for Christie (53).

Kilkenny: J Brennan; J Young, P Dempsey, J Harkin; C Rudkins, S Staunton, H Walsh; D Maher, C Kelly; C O’Leary, C Brennan, C Kenny; K Hogan, G Murphy, E Guilfoyle. Subs: P Moylan for Walsh (31), J Buggy for Hogan (41), J Morrissey for Guilfoyle (46), J Doyle for O’Leary (52), D Crehan for Harkin (60).

Referee: R Fitzsimons (Offaly).

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