Cody praises Cats 'attitude' as super Reid rallies troops
Kilkenny 2-23 Dublin 1-21
Kilkenny, depleted by injuries and fielding five Championship debutants, were indebted to TJ Reid for a winning start to the Leinster round robin series at Nowlan Park on Saturday evening.
Reid has been an instrumental figure in much of his county's success this decade and again showed magnificent leadership, scoring 2-12 - 1-12 from placed balls - including a second-half penalty.
Dublin led for most of the first-half after Sean Moran scored their only goal from a penalty in the 10th minute, when Conor Fogarty was booked for holding Liam Rushe.
They led 0-13 to 1-12 at half time and by six points at one point after a rapid volley of four unanswered scores - a period of play which made the prospect of a second Championship win over Kilkenny in 77 years look entirely conceivable.
Kilkenny, though, having survived a disputed second penalty from Moran which went over the bar before half-time, made a series of changes which helped spark an elevated performance in the second-half.
Richie Leahy came into midfield, Pádraig Walsh dropped back on Danny Sutcliffe, and Huw Lawlor retreated to pick up Rushe. Richie Hogan was also introduced early in the second-half and Kilkenny started to nibble at the Dublin lead.
It was Reid, fittingly, who drew them level in the 47th minute at 1-15 a piece, when he raced down the middle channel, worked a quick exchange with Colin Fennelly, and finished past Alan Nolan.
After Reid's goal they were in control from there on. Reid scored a second goal 10 minutes after his first, from the penalty spot when Fennelly was fouled.
"I think the second-half performance in every single way was upped," stated Brian Cody, now in his 21st season.
"I thought the attitude was good from the start, but the attitude got stronger and the work rate throughout the field was top class."
Cody has been around long enough to see a great deal in hurling, but he admitted that the much-publicised incident involving Dublin selector Greg Kennedy in the 33rd minute had been a new experience.
"I certainly haven't seen it before," he said. "I know Greg Kennedy played a fair bit at corner-back, but tonight it was a bizarre thing to do."
Cody was seen remonstrating with Kennedy after he returned to the sidelines. While on the field to give instructions, Kennedy fielded a short free taken by Reid which was intended for Billy Ryan in the hope of setting up a goal attempt.
The home crowd reacted furiously, and even more so when Dublin were awarded their second penalty, following another Rushe advance, a minute later when it looked like the full-forward was barging.
Moran on this occasion drove high over the bar, leaving them five points clear when it might have been seven. In the 10 minutes before then Dublin played their best hurling, with all forwards scoring except an off-form Eamonn Dillon.
An inspirational point by Pádraig Walsh reduced the Dublin lead to two points in the 23rd minute, but in the next five minutes Dublin scored four without reply, the last of those from Fergal Whitely when Dublin turned over possession in the Kilkenny half of the field.
Referee Cathal McAllister was booed off the field at the break, and approached by a clearly upset James McGarry, the Kilkenny selector.
Dublin manager Mattie Kenny felt his team went too direct on the resumption, playing into Kilkenny's hands as the home team dropped more players back and starved Dublin's forwards of oxygen.
He defended his colleague and fellow Galway man Kennedy, who was sent off when Galway defeated Kilkenny under Cody in the 2001 All-Ireland semi-final.
"I know Greg a long, long time," said Kenny, who claimed he did not see the incident on Saturday. "I was just talking to him there, the whistle hadn't gone, he was going off the field. The ball was coming over his head, he told me it was just kind of a reaction thing.
"Greg is a real top-class sports guy. He's very competitive but one thing about him, he wouldn't do anything like that deliberately and he assured me it was just a reaction."
Dublin must recover quickly to face Wexford in Parnell Park next Sunday. They have had injury troubles of their own and must plan without Mark Schutte for the season, who suffered a serious shoulder injury after hurling well in recent challenges.
"Like, no matter what way you look at it, coming down to Kilkenny, coming down to Nowlan Park, for anybody is a really, really tough assignment," said Mattie Kenny. "And I thought our guys did really, really well. They're very, very disappointed there but we're very proud of the way they hurled, the way they applied themselves, and we've a lot to offer yet in this year's championship."
Alan Murphy started well for Kilkenny in his first Championship match, scoring three early points before fading, and another newcomer, Tommy Walsh, capped an outstanding display with a late solo point.
By then Kilkenny were firing on all cylinders. They travel to Carlow next weekend after the perfect start.
Scorers - Kilkenny: TJ Reid 2-12 (11 f, 1-0 pen, 0-1 65); A Murphy 0-3; R Leahy, G Aylward 0-2 each; P Walsh, W Walsh, A Mullen, T Walsh 0-1 each. Dublin: D Treacy 0-6 (6f); S Moran 1-2 (1-1 from pens); D Sutcliffe 0-4; F Whitely, C Crummey 0-2 each; P Ryan, L Rushe, T Connolly, D O'Connell, S Treacy 0-1 each.
Kilkenny - D Brennan 7; P Murphy 7, P Deegan 7, T Walsh 9; E Morrissey 6, H Lawlor 8, C Fogarty 7; P Walsh 8, A Murphy 8; A Mullen 7, W Walsh 7, TJ Reid 9; B Ryan 6, C Fennelly 7, G Aylward 7. Subs: R Leahy 8 for Morrissey (half time); R Hogan 7 for Ryan (40).
Dublin - A Nolan 7; D O'Connell 7, E O'Donnell 8, P Smyth 7; S Barrett 7, C Crummey 8, S Moran 7; S Treacy 7, T Connolly 7; F Whitely 7, D Sutcliffe 7, D Treacy 6; P Ryan 6, L Rushe 7, E Dillon 6. Subs: R McBride 7 for Connolly (51 mins); C Keaney 7 for Ryan (60); C Boland for S Treacy (66); J Malone for D Treacy (72); R Hayes for Rushe (73).
Ref - C McAllister (Cork).