Thursday 23 November 2017

Deadly blitz from Dublin stuns 13-man Kilkenny side

Dublin 0-25 Kilkenny 3-11

Cian O'Callaghan, left, and Michael Carton, Dublin, in action against Richie Hogan, Kilkenny
Cian O'Callaghan, left, and Michael Carton, Dublin, in action against Richie Hogan, Kilkenny
Richie Hogan, Kilkenny, in action against Conal Keaney, Dublin
Liam Rushe, Dublin, in action against Kieran Joyce, Kilkenny

How rare is this: Kilkenny well beaten in Nowlan Park after conceding 25 scores and having two men sent off.

Best ask the man who masterminds everything that happens in the Kilkenny camp. Your thoughts, Brian?

"Dublin deserved to win it. It was a big disadvantage playing with 14 men for most of the game and with 13 for a lot of it. We fought it out to the end and pegged it back well, but overall we couldn't have any complaints about the result," said Cody after the Dubs' first win over the Cats at Nowlan Park since 1964.

And the sending off of full-forward Jonjo Farrell after 24 minutes? A short pause was followed by a diplomatic response.

"I'll let ye decide that, lads. I won't talk about referees. I don't know why he was sent off. The referee made a decision and that was it."

It was difficult to know why referee Colm Lyons took such drastic action for what look an innocuous pull, but then he was in a fussy humour all day.

Kilkenny sub Joe Lyng followed Farrell to the bench in the 56th minute for pulling on Cian Boland under a dropping ball and Dublin wing-forward Danny Sutcliffe was sent off just before the finish on a second yellow card.

By then, Dublin had secured their second win of the league campaign, but the big question among the 7,152 crowd was what impact Farrell's departure had on the game.

"He was going well, causing Dublin lots of problems. He was a big loss," said Cody (opposite page).

Nobody would disagree with that assessment but whether he would have made a match-saving difference will always remain a mystery.

Kilkenny were trailing by a point (0-8 to 1-4) when Farrell was sent off, having recovered from a six-point deficit after Dublin's speedy break from the starting blocks took them well clear after 11 minutes.

The visitors were using the strong wind intelligently but, typical of Kilkenny, they improvised well for a period, hitting 1-3 off limited ball between the 17th and 20th minutes. The goal came off one of the rare occasions when the Dublin defence lost stability, allowing the persistent Matthew Ruth to strike from close range.

It undid much of Dublin's good work and presented them with a real test of their fortitude. The response was emphatic as they powered on with unrelenting determination, outscoring Kilkenny by 0-7 to 0-1 in the closing 10 minutes of the half to lead by 0-15 to 1-5 at the interval.

With the strong wind behind them in the second half, a seven-point deficit didn't look all that forbidding for Kilkenny, even if they were a man down. However, they failed to build up anything like the required level of momentum early in the second half against a Dublin side that continued with the excellent form they displayed against Tipperary a week earlier.

"Fourteen play 15 fairly often so it shouldn't have made all that much of a difference but it did," said Cody.

"We made no impact with the wind after half-time. It was an important phase of the game. If we had started the second half like we finished the second half, it might have been different."

SWUNG

Indeed, by the time Kilkenny swung into serious action, the game was in the final quarter. By then, they were 14 points down (0-24 to 1-7) and playing with 13 men.

They added 2-4 in the final 15 minutes and restricted Dublin to a point. Kilkenny's goals came from a 23-metre free, struck with real venom by Richie Hogan in the 59th minute, and from Ruth in the 66th minute.

Kilkenny's revival made Dublin edgy, but they had banked so much in the first 55 minutes that it left them with more than enough on deposit to withstand heavy withdrawals.

They had done it with a slick, accurate performance, which Kilkenny would have found difficult to counteract even if they had been firing on full power. Dublin's air and ground attacks were skilfully organised, underpinned by a sense of unity that usually left the player in possession with a range of options ahead of him.

It made pleasing viewing for Dublin manager Ger Cunningham.

"It's something that we have been trying to get the lads working on in training, in terms of working the ball properly, being comfortable on it and distributing it to the best man who's available," he said.

"We did it well in the first 20 minutes of the second half, in particular. We worked some very good moves and good fine scores out of it. We lost our shape after they had the second man sent off but did enough to see the game out."

There was plenty for him to enthuse about. The defence locked out most of the undermanned Kilkenny attack until the final 15 minutes, while the forwards continued in the productive mode that enabled them to hit 2-20 against Tipperary.

Apart from being deadly on placed balls (he pointed four frees and three '65s'), David Treacy shot four points from play, as did Sutcliffe. Eamonn Dillon and Mark Schutte hit 0-3 each and while Liam Rushe didn't score, he caused a series of problems for the Kilkenny defence.

The movement in the Dublin attack was always positive and they were also prepared to take on their markers with direct running, a tactic that returned a rich harvest. It all fed into an excellent performance, which has taken Dublin to the head of the 1A table.

They were favourites for relegation going into the league but haven't read from that depressing script. Instead, they are impressive pace-setters after beating last year's All-Ireland winners and runners-up by a combined total of 17 points.

It's the perfect start for Cunningham, who has switched on to the challenge in impressive style. It has got the correct response from the squad, whose confidence levels are rising all the time.

"Any time you come to Nowlan Park and get a victory is pleasing. I am very happy with a lot of the performances. The last 10 minutes were a bit panicky - Kilkenny finished with two goals and it was a bit more tight at the end than it should have been but overall I am pleased," said Cunningham.

He acknowledged that Farrell's sending-off had a significant impact but felt that Dublin were hurling well enough to rise to whatever challenge was thrown at them. As it happened, the challenge was much weaker than anyone would have expected.

Man of the Match: David Treacy

Scorers - Dublin: D Treacy 0-11 (4fs, 3 '65s'), D Sutcliffe 0-4, M Schutte, E Dillon 0-3 each,P Kelly 0-2, S Lambert, S Durkin 0-1 each. Kilkenny: R Hogan 1-7 (1-5fs, 0-1 '65'), M Ruth 2-0, J Farrell, P Walsh, W Walsh, M Kelly 0-1 each.

Dublin - A Nolan 7; C O'Callaghan 7; M Carton 7, P Schutte 7; C Crummey 7, P Kelly 8 ,C Keaney 7; S Durkin 7, S Lambert 7; C Cronin 5, E Dillon 8, D Sutcliffe 8; D Treacy 9, L Rushe 7, M Schutte 8. Subs: C Boland 6 for Cronin (53), P Ryan for Treacy (66).

Kilkenny - E Murphy 6; T Keogh 6, P Murphy 6 J Tyrrell 6; B Kennedy 5, K Joyce 6, C Buckley 7; G Brennan 5, L Ryan 6; P Walsh 5, W Walsh 5, M Ruth 7; M Kelly 7, J Farrell 5, R Hogan 6.

Subs: J Lyng 4 for Kennedy (43), J Power 5 for Brennan (43).

Ref - C Lyons (Cork)

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