McGibb shows touch of class to give Kenny perfect boost
Dublin 2-21 Carlow 1-16
The Mattie Kenny era for Dublin hurling began with a victory at Netwatch Cullen Park on a night when the rain pelted every corner of the ground and the 100 or so hardy souls who braved the elements to watch the match.
Whatever the reason behind bringing the start of the competition back into December, promotional value wasn't it.
Dublin played against the howling wind and driving rain in the first half, but the early signs of Kenny's work were still apparent.
Mostly, Alan Nolan went mid-range to his half-backs from Dublin's puck-outs and they attempted to play the ball short out of defence, maintaining possession at all costs.
John Hetherton, named at corner-forward, moved out in search of high ball and in order to leave room for the returning Donal Burke and Eamonn Dillon, although the most striking feature of Dublin's play in the half was Fintan McGibb's pace.
Carlow mostly relied on Martin Kavanagh's frees to keep them going in the first half and they hit six points without reply after Dillon had found the net for Dublin.
That Dublin went in two points ahead at the break was due mostly to their extra gear in attack and Hetherton's sweet striking from frees after he assumed those duties from Burke.
In the second half, after Carlow briefly went ahead when Ted Joyce scored a goal in the 37th minute, Dublin took over completely.
McGibb was even more influential in the second half.
He broke the cover to send Dillon in for what looked like a certain goal but after he was hooked, the Setanta man managed to poke the ball past Brian Treacy in the Carlow goal. That ended the game as a contest.
Burke added a trio of stylish points from his new spot at centre-forward while McGibb - easily the game's outstanding player - finished with 1-2.