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Kilkenny 1-14 Dublin 0-17: Almost a result to shock the championship into life before June is spent. Almost.
Dublin and Kilkenny will have to go at it all over again in Portlaoise next Saturday at 7pm.
Blame TJ Reid for ruining Dublin’s great leap.
The All-Ireland champions will never be this poor again. That’s the killer for Anthony Daly’s men tonight. Reid came on and salvaged a draw for Brian Cody’s men at the death.
Look but don’t touch seemed a fair pre-match assessment, but there was whispers that Dublin had steeled themselves to trouble Cody’s Kilkenny.
They should have won. At least they get to go again.
The travelling city hoards in the 9,674 attendance grew in confidence watching Michael Fennelly and Henry Shefflin, draped in black tracksuits and runners, having a puck about on the field beforehand while their fitter teammates warmed up proper for the match.
The two assassins took their seats in the stand.
Dublin were ready for anything. Even the loss of their reliable free taker Paul Ryan to injury after just 18 minutes. Joey Boland stepped into the breach registering 0-5, including four frees, as Dublin held parity, 0-8 apiece, at the turn.
That was an impressive feat considering the threat of Richie Hogan and the physicality of Walter Walsh. The big man who shone so brightly last September swatted Niall Corcoran aside, no easy task, like a rag doll for one of three early scores.
When Walsh, Hogan and Eoin Larkin stringed a few together 10 minutes before half-time the expected result seemed so inevitable.
But Dublin clung on. David ‘Dotsy’ O’Callaghan arriving off the bench like an annoying wasp to add to Boland’s accuracy from placed ball.
What looked a bad injury to Kilkenny corner back Paul Murphy also took the fizz out of the opening stanza (the St John’s Ambulance crews missed a trick here, arriving too late as a makeshift stretcher took the wounded soldier from the battlefield. In fairness, they are volunteers).
Larkin was oddly off kilter, miscuing two frees well within his range.
A healthy Dublin following began to dream when Paul Schutte and Boland clipped over points soon after the break, but there’s always a Kilkenny man who steps up to the plate in the championship. When there is four or five it tends to be a rout.
Today it was Walter Walsh. His goal in the 43rd minute should’ve broken Dublin’s back. The Codyites who had slipped across the border unnoticed let out an almighty roar.
That and the arrival of Reid for a subdued Michael Rice should’ve been enough to break Dublin’s resistance.
But Daly’s charges were determined to deliver a 70 minute showing of championship intensity.
Their leader, Johnny McCaffrey, stood up and was counted, landing two huge points from play. Shane Durkan came in and grabbed another.
We entered the final quarter all square, 1-10 to 0-13.
Daly was marching down the line deep in conversation with himself while Cody was buried in practicalities, cajoling his lieutenants, both on and off the field, as Larkin and Walsh edged them clear yet again.
Strangely, the game hit a lull period with 10 minute remaining. Both teams seemed to have achieved their primary goal; Dublin respectability, Kilkenny a hard fought victory.
Even more weird was the sight of Larkin striking another wide from dead on the posts.
The memory harked back to Wexford’s smash and grab at Croke Park in 2004 when Mark Schutte made it a one point game as they came around the final bend jostling for position.
Then Keaney, anonymous as a scoring forward to that moment, but bustling about all the same, levelled it all up with six minutes to play.
Every ball mattered now. Walsh took it upon himself to earn a yellow card by milling Liam Rushe.
Up the other end Keaney drew a foul from Paddy Hogan. Boland nailed it. Larkin pulled it back level within seconds.
It was manic now. When Tipperary referee Johnny Ryan deemed Lester Ryan fouled the ball it seemed like Boland was poised to win it.
But then Reid spoiled what would have been a magical day for Dublin hurling.
Kilkenny: 1 E Murphy; 2 P Murphy, 3 JJ Delaney, 4 C Fogarty; 5 T Walsh, 6 B Hogan, 7 K Joyce; 8 L Ryan, 9 M Rice; 18 C Buckley, 11 R Power, 12 E Larkin; 13 W Walsh, 14 R Hogan, 10 C Fennelly (capt).
Dublin: 1 G Maguire; 4 P Schutte, 3 P Kelly, 2 N Corcoran; 5 S Hiney, 6 L Rushe, 7 M Carton; 8 J McCaffrey (capt), 9 J Boland; 10 C Keaney, 11 R O’Dwyer, 12 D Sutcliffe; 15 P Ryan, 13 C McCormack, 14 D Treacy.
Referee: J Ryan (Tipperary).