Kilkenny 0-21 Dublin 0-16: The pain of 2016 was well and truly forgotten about as the Kilkenny under-21 hurlers started their 2017 campaign in winning style.
Eddie Brennan’s Cats had tough task to dethrone reigning Leinster champs Dublin, but got the result they craved at Nowlan Park last night.
Watching as the Dubs ate into their seven-point lead late on, the Cats needed points from subs John Donnelly and James Bergin in the last five minutes to dull a Dublin charge, while a top class diving save from goalkeeper Darren Brennan really broke the visiting side’s spirit.
Kilkenny looked to be cruising towards the semi-finals when man of the match Billy Ryan helped himself to a fine 47th minute point that drove his side into a 0-17 to 0-10 lead.
However, as the Cats eased off the gas Dublin got a new lease of life. Four scores on the trot from Colin Currie (2), Donal Burke and Rian McBride helped close the gap.
It was left to subs John Donnelly (2) and James Bergin to sink their revival as Kilkenny booked a semi-final against Westmeath on June 21.
The sides struggled to find true scoring form in the first half, posting a number of wides between them. Shane Walsh opened the scoring for the hosts but Colin Currie (free) quickly had Dublin on level terms.
Currie was the fore in that first half, helping himself to five points (four frees and a 65) but Kilkenny boasted a greater number of scorers.
Alan Murphy helped himself to three points in the opening 30 minutes, while Billy Ryan nabbed a brace.
With Tommy Walsh, Sean Morrissey and Shane Walsh also on the scoresheet, Kilkenny did enough to keep their noses in front in that first half.
They could have been further in front, but Dublin goalkeeper Jonathan Treacy did well to beat Shane Walsh’s shot to safety.
The Cats led by two at the break (0-9 to 0-7), but raised their game in the second half.
Led by Alan Murphy (0-4) they surged into a 0-15 to 0-10 lead by the 43rd minute and were only denied a goal when defender Cian Hendricken got in to block Pat Lyng’s searing 35th minute shot.
Dublin did close the gap late on, but couldn’t fully reel in their rivals.
Scorers for Kilkenny:
A Murphy (0-7, six frees); B Ryan (0-5); S Walsh, J Donnelly (0-2 each); T Walsh, S Morrissey, J Walsh, L Blanchfield, J Bergin (0-1 each).
C Currie (0-9, six frees, one 65); R McBride (0-3); D Burke, E Conroy, F Whitely, C O’Sullivan (0-1 each).
D Brennan; M Cody, C Delaney, R Bergin; C Doheny, J Cleere, T Walsh; H Lawlor, S Morrissey; P Lyng, S Walsh, J Walsh; A Murphy, L Blanchfield, B Ryan.
J Donnelly for L Blanchfield; L Scanlon for P Lyng; J Bergin for S Walsh; D Mullen for C Doheny; C Hennessy for J Walsh.
J Treacy; D Gray, S Barrett, J O’Neill; C Hendricken, J Malone, P O’Dea; B Bolger, D Burke; E Conroy, F Whitely, C Burke; C Currie, R McBride, P Crummey.
E McHugh for C Burke; C O’Sullivan for P Crummey; C Sammon for D Gray; J McGuirk for Bolger; C Dowling for C Hendricken.
P Murphy (Carlow).
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