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Costello strike fires Dubs to minor glory

DUBLIN captured the Leinster crown for the first time since 2007 with a powerful display at Croke Park yesterday.

Despite a first half which saw them blaze 10 wides, a physically dominant Dublin were full value for the win over a Kilkenny team who had three starters from last year's All-Ireland winning team.

As equally significant as the progress made by the Dublin senior team this year is the consolidation made at underage level with yet another fine team produced and capable of toppling the traditional powers.

Dublin settled quickly with three points in the first 10 minutes from Glenn Whelan and two from Paul Winters.

But Kevin Kelly, a star forward of the Kilkenny side that won the All-Ireland last year, made his presence felt when moved to centre-forward, and hauled his side back into contention.

The breeze seemed to favour the Dubs slightly, but their shooting from distance let them down badly and threatened to be fatal.

But their physical strength and height continued to present them with opportunities, while a tough-tackling full-back line and an inspirational captain in wing-back Chris Crummy were keeping the Cats at bay.

Dual star Ciaran Kilkenny was used in a playmaking role on the half- forward line with fellow football players Emmet O Conghaile and Cormac Costello picking off important scores.

The Dubs got a crucial break in the 30th minute when Kilkenny and Aodhan Clabby combined and the ball was whipped to the net by Costello -- son of county secretary John.

Trailing by 1-8 to 0-6 at half-time, Kilkenny asserted themselves from the restart -- driven on by Brian Cody's son Diarmuid at centre-back, but the goal remained the big barrier between them.

When the goal chance came in the 38th minute, Kilkenny full-forward Conor Martin raided inside and his crisp shot across the face of goal was inches wide. The Cats continued to press but once the impressive O Conghaile lifted the siege with a point in the 46th minute, the Dubs threw the shackles off and powered clear.

Substitute James Maher crashed an injury-time goal to cut the gap to three and throw Kilkenny a lifeline but Sean McClelland topped a great afternoon with two brilliant late clearances to avert the danger and send the Dubs into the All-Ireland semi-finals with Kilkenny now into the quarter-finals.

The win sets up a potential Leinster landslide for the Dubs at minor level with the footballers meeting Meath next Sunday.

SCORERS -- Dublin: C Costello 1-2, E O Conghaile 0-3, C Kilkenny (1f), P Winters (1f), O O'Rorke (1f) 0-2 each, C Crummy, J Desmond (f), G Whelan 0-1 each. Kilkenny: J Maher 1-1, K Kelly 0-3 (2f), P Vickery, R Reid 0-2 each, C O'Shea, C Bolger, T O'Hanrahan 0-1 each.

DUBLIN -- C Ryan; E Lowndes, C O'Callaghan, S McClelland; C Crummy, J Desmond, M McCaffrey; G Whelan, C Cronin; C McHugh, C Kilkenny, A Clabby; C Costello, E O Conghaile, P Winters. Subs: O O'Rorke for Winters (h-t), B McCarthy for Cronin (50), C Boland for Whelan (57), D Forde for McHugh (57).

KILKENNY -- A Duggan; J McDowell, C Doyle, E Morrissey; K Walsh, D Cody, E McGrath; C O'Shea, C Bolger; P Vickery, P Kenneally, K Kelly; T O'Hanrahan, C Martin, R Reid. Subs: D Kearns for Keneally (h-t), J Maher for C Martin (38), R Moran for Walsh (49), J Hayes for Vickery (57).

Ref -- J Heffernan (Wexford).

Irish Independent