Dubs triumph a great lift for hurling
Published 02/05/2011 | 05:00
Dublin have got the monkey off their backs now and they can go on to be one of the top two or three teams in the championship.
Winning the Allianz Hurling League was great for the men from the capital and it was even better news for hurling.
But I wouldn't be writing Kilkenny off just yet -- they have plenty to come when they get their injured players back.
Yesterday at Croke Park, though, they couldn't live with a Dublin team who took the game by the scruff of the neck early on.
Dublin had the breeze in the first half and dictated the play. They got some great scores and only the goal that Kilkenny got from Eddie Brennan kept them in the game.
The writing was on the wall with some wonderful scores from play before half-time.
After the sending off of Eoin Larkin, Dublin had the extra man and they were well able to use it.
They are very fit and very physical. They've been on a roll all season, have only been beaten once in competition and they were unlucky against Galway.
Kilkenny have the tradition, but they were missing a number of players and they needed a goal.
They never really threatened it -- no forward scored a point from play for Kilkenny. Michael Rice got one and the rest came from frees.
Dublin have got reward for all of the hard work that has gone on behind the scenes, because a day like this has been years coming.
It's fantastic for the game. There were 40,000 at the match and there will probably be more following them now.
It's a great injection; it gives hurling a great lift.
Kilkenny won't begrudge Dublin their win and it gives a lift not only to Dublin but to the game of hurling as a whole.
They are in a very big city, it can only do them good. Hurling probably needed that more than Dublin.
Everyone will take them more seriously. Even coming into yesterday's game, people still doubted that they could do it on the big day, but they showed they can.
They're going to be a force in the championship.
They have a tough run -- they have Offaly first up and that's a banana skin, and then Galway are waiting in the wings.
But no one will take them for granted and they can go on from here and improve.
They are a force, they have been threatening this and now that they have achieved it they can go from strength to strength.
Referee Michael Wadding didn't have much of a choice when he sent Larkin off and John Dalton was very lucky not to join him.
It wasn't a hard one: Larkin had to go because he turned around and hit Conor McCormack. Wadding saw it and there wasn't much he could do but send him off.
Dalton was very lucky that the referee didn't see what he did or he would have joined his team-mate in the stands.
Dublin were powerful, they used the extra man well. They were in Kilkenny's face and they weren't going away. They are a new team, a coming team and the Cats were trying to keep them down, hold on.
That won't affect Kilkenny for the championship now. If they had won it, they would have just thrown the cup in the boot of the car and gone home.
There would have been no celebrations like we saw from Dublin. Those joyous scenes wouldn't have been repeated.
But Kilkenny's air of invincibility is now gone. They have to get back on track but they will still be hard to beat in the summer.
When they get everyone back, they will still be a force. The championship, when all is said and done, is all that counts and Kilkenny know that.
The big thing for Dublin is that they needed that win. They showed the desire and they went and won it.
Saturday's Division 2 final was a good game. Limerick got the breaks and it was great for them to win it because it sets them up for their first-round match against Waterford in the Munster championship.
It won't do Clare any good to have another year in Division 2 and they lost at home. Their form had been patchy, they lost two games in the initial round of matches and that's a third. Limerick have been playing well in every game.
Both of those teams should be in Division 1 -- and it might happen as well.