Carlow 0-9 Dublin 0-20
PERHAPS it was the biblical weather, or maybe it was the half-time words of Mattie Kenny still ringing in their ears, but it took Dublin hurlers a full 35 minutes to shake off their inhibitions in Netwatch Cullen Park.
But when they belatedly got motoring, it soon became apparent that Dublin were in a different league to their Carlow hosts – faster, more powerful and far more potent.
It wasn’t the perfect second half from the visitors – Mattie Kenny would surely have liked to see their dominance underlined by at least one goal – but it was more than sufficient on a horrendous night for hurling.
Having led by just two points at the break, and about to face the wind, Dublin outscored Carlow by 14 points to five to run out emphatic 11-point winners.
The result brings them to four points after the first three rounds in Division 1 Group B of the Allianz Hurling League, ahead of next Saturday’s home clash with Wexford.
Dublin had started the campaign in Jekyll and Hyde fashion, going down meekly to 14 Kilkenny men in Nowlan Park before winning a high-scoring shootout with Laois, their championship nemesis last summer.
Carlow, you suspect, would have gladly settled for such inconsistency - they had lost to Clare and Kilkenny by a cumulative 37 points.
Meanwhile, their two most recent meetings with Dublin - in last year’s Leinster round-robin and this year’s Walsh Cup - had delivered defeats by 12 and 11 points respectively.
There was one potential leveller, however: Netwatch Cullen Park had passed a pitch inspection at noon but that was before Storm Dennis had vented its full fury and the two teams were greeted by horrific conditions.
Carlow made one late change, Cathal Tracey replacing Chris Nolan, while ‘keeper Alan Nolan and Shane Barrett were added to the Dublin line-up at the expense of Seán Brennan and David Keogh.
Rian McBride was Dublin’s standout first half performer with 0-3 from play, and he opened his account after just a minute.
But this was not the forerunner to any marked degree of dominance, as the Dublin attack struggled to make inroads even with the benefits of a gusting wind.
Twice Carlow edged ahead during the first 20 minutes – via a fine point from John Michael Nolan and then a Marty Kavanagh free after the impressive Jack Kavanagh was fouled after claiming his own puckout.
At the other end, Oisín O’Rorke missed his first two placed-ball attempts before belatedly finding his range, while Donal Burke and Chris Crummey also tallied a brace of wides apiece.
One of those was a possible goal chance, Crummey’s ground-stroke flashing wide of the far post, while the same player’s penalty claims were ignored by referee Thomas Walsh, who penalised Crummey for over-carrying instead.
Dublin’s attacking travails were encapsulated by Burke’s decision to go for goal from a tight angle instead of taking his point, allowing ‘keeper Damien Jordan to make a routine stop.
Even though Marty Kavanagh spurned a free on the half-time whistle, the hosts would have been delighted to only trail by 0-6 to 0-4 with the elements to come.
Instead, as the weather noticeably improved, so too did Dublin. David Keogh opened their account within two minutes of the restart – the first of several positive contributions from the half-time sub – and he was joined in the scoring act by Daire Gray, Crummey and sub Paul Ryan as the visitors pulled clear during the third quarter.
Ryan would finish as Dublin’s top scorer with 0-5, four from placed balls, whereas just three Carlow men made the scoreboard, including David English with a consolation free in stoppage-time.
SCORERS – Dublin: P Ryan 0-5 (3f, 1 ‘65’), R McBride 0-4, O O’Rorke 0-3f, S Moran (1f), D Keogh, C Crummey, D Gray 0-2 each. Carlow: M Kavanagh 0-6 (4f), JM Nolan 0-2, D English 0-1f.
DUBLIN – A Nolan; P Smyth, E O’Donnell, J Madden; S Barrett, S Moran, D Gray; J Malone, C Crummey; J Hetherton, D Burke, R McBride; R Hayes, M Schutte, O Rorke. Subs: C O’Callaghan for Barrett (ht), D Keogh for Schutte (ht), P Ryan for O’Rorke (51), A O’Neill for McBride (blood 64-71), F Mac Gib for Burke (68), A Dunphy for Madden (69).
CARLOW – D Jordan; R Smithers, P Doyle, M Doyle; R Coady, D English, G Bennett; K McDonald, A Amond; J Kavanagh, P Coady, JM Nolan; C Tracey, M Kavanagh, T Joyce. Subs: S Whelan for R Coady (inj 17), C Abbey for Jordan (inj 48), Dean Tobin for Smithers (59), Dara Tobin for P Coady (62), T Daly for Amond (71).
REF – T Walsh (Waterford)