Dublin 1-16 Kilkenny 2-20
Dublin hurlers were pitched into a relegation play-off as Kilkenny rolled ominously through the gears at Parnell Park to secure a National League quarter-final place.
A strong second-half performance against fourteen-man Dublin was enough for Brian Cody's men who got outstanding contributions from corner-forwards, Conor Martin and Liam Blanchfield. There was also a big second-half display from TJ Reid who finished the day with a personal tally of ten points.
Kilkenny were slow to find early rhythm against the hosts' sweeper system and spent most of the first-half playing second fiddle to a Dublin team playing with the aid of a gusting wind.
Yet a wonderful run in along the end-line by Colin Fennelly set up Conor Martin for an eighth minute goal that kept Brian Cody's men in touch. They were getting no change however out of a strong Dublin half-back line in which Chris Crummey was proving an especially forceful marker of Reid.
The Dubs led 0-9 to 1-3 on the half-hour but were suddenly undone by the arrival of a brilliant Kilkenny goal accompanied by a moment of madness from home goalkeeper, Gary Maguire.
Seeing his defence torn open by a brilliant passing move involving Martin, Reid and Walter Walsh to set up Liam Blanchfield for an easy 31st minute finish, Maguire pulled wildly across the Bennettsbridge man to leave referee, Paud O'Dwyer, with little option but to show him a red card.
It had to be a shattering blow to Dublin boss, Ger Cunningham, watching his team go in at the interval 0-10 to 2-5 behind and facing the prospect of hurling the entire second period with only fourteen men.
That numerical advantage proved too much for the brave Dubs who fought to the end but just did not have enough to keep the Cats at bay.
SCORERS: Kilkenny - TJ Reid 0-10 (0-6 frees), C Martin 1-5, L Blanchfield 1-2, C Fogarty, W Walsh and R Hogan 0-1 each.
Dublin - D Burke 1-9 (0-7 frees), C Crummey 0-3, B Quinn, R O'Dwyer, C Boland and N McMorrow 0-1 each.
KILKENNY: E Murphy, P Murphy, P Walsh, C O'Shea, C Fogarty, J Cleere, S Prendergast, P Deegan, C Buckley, C Fennelly, W Walsh, TJ Reid, L Blanchfield, R Hogan, C Martin. Subs - J Holden for P Walsh (half-time), P Lyng for Hogan (52 mins), K Joyce for O'Shea (61).
DUBLIN: G Maguire, F O'Riain Broinn, E O'Donnell, S Barrett, C Crummey, L Rushe, C MacGabhann, B Quinn, D Fox, E Conroy, N McMorrow, R O'Dwyer, C Boland, D Burke, E Dillon. Subs - C Dooley for E Conroy (31 mins), R McBride for MacGabhann (52), C O'Sullivan for Boland (58), F Whiteley for Fox (65).
Referee - P O'Dwyer (Carlow).
Plenty of teams are jockeying for position on the final day of the National Hurling League, while there is also plenty of football action to enjoy. Follow all the action in our liveblog:
It was always going to take something special to separate these teams in such a tight, tactical battle in Healy Park and it was delivered, right on cue, by Mayo's Kevin McLoughlin whose 72nd minute winner broke a 15-minute deadlock without a score.