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Reasons to be cheerful - and one to be fearful

Kilkenny v Dublin, Nowlan Park, Tomorrow 2.0, live TG4

SOME reasons to be upbeat as Ger Cunningham's remodelled Blues head to Noreside.

1: A new manager always craves some early momentum, just to convince his players that methods are working - check, after last Sunday's 12-point romp past Tipperary.

2: Nowlan Park mightn't qualify as a happy hunting ground but, under Anthony Daly, Dublin at least performed well there. They could have won a league thriller in 2009; they should have won a 2012 scorefest when plundering six goals.

3: An impressive facet against Tipp was how several old hands performed in new positions (Michael Carton (inset) at full-back, Conal Keaney at wing-back, Shane Durkin at midfield) and even though Liam Rushe initially struggled for clean possession at full-forward, he warmed to the task and finished with 1-1.

4: Some former fringe players grabbed their chance, notably Chris Crummey and Eamonn Dillon.

5: As the game progressed, Dublin's passing became increasingly slick.

Now, though, for our salutary conclusion: Kilkenny surprised most us by winning in Cork minus 13 of last year's All-Ireland panel or any Walsh Cup prep-work. Rumours of early-season lethargy have been greatly exaggerated, it seems, and Brian Cody would love to put an early spanner in the Dublin works.

ODDS: Kilkenny 4/9, Draw 10/1, Dublin 11/5

VERDICT: Kilkenny