Saturday 16 December 2017

Daly's finest hour as Dubs shock Cats

DUBLIN 1-16 KILKENNY 0-16

Dublin’s Shane Durkin tries to find a way past Lester Ryan, Eoin Larkin and Brian Hogan during last night’s Leinster semi-final replay. Photo: David Maher
Dublin’s Shane Durkin tries to find a way past Lester Ryan, Eoin Larkin and Brian Hogan during last night’s Leinster semi-final replay. Photo: David Maher

Damian Lawlor

AN inspired Dublin defence saw their side through to the Leinster final after a famous win over Kilkenny at a booming O'Moore Park last night.

Kilkenny relied heavily on Eoin Larkin for scores but the Dubs can pay tribute to their six defenders for a first win over Kilkenny since 1942. Mark Schutte and Shane Durkin made serious impacts from the bench as the game went on, but it was the likes of Paul Schutte, Liam Rushe, Stephen Hiney and Niall Corcoran that laid the platform for this massive win.

Kilkenny now drop to the qualifiers next Saturday night against Tipperary in what will be another titanic clash. Despite getting sent off in the closing minutes, they will have Richie Power available for this clash as he was given two yellows.

But this night belonged to Dublin. They should have prevailed last weekend but didn't. Although they made life difficult for themselves last night – especially in attack – they were the hungrier, sharper team throughout.

They kept Kilkenny to just five points from play – an incredible statistic. Anthony Daly's men waited a long time for such a win but they got it last night. Perhaps the difference was that three of their subs scored when they came on the field; a sign of their strength in depth.

In fairness, they were by far the better team from the start. They took off with a light breeze behind them in the first half and from the off they laid down a gauntlet. Pulling Danny Sutcliffe from attack into their half-back line, they went with only four forwards up front, but still looked extremely dangerous whenever they found their men. Through sharp passing and direct running they led 0-4 to 0-1 after eight minutes with Paul Ryan and David O'Callaghan leading the charge with sublime points.

They brought a huge contingent with them and their fans in the fine crowd of 10,532 responded to their efforts. Kilkenny were bullied out of it in the midfield and half-forward exchanges but TJ Reid, who started at full-forward, looked bright and pulled off some fine aerial catches.

Playing on a pristine pitch, Dublin showed absolutely no fear. They sprayed the ball around their defence and were very compact with their passing. The Kilkenny full-back lines came under serious pressure but would have come even under greater strain had Dublin utilised the final ball better.

They rattled the Cats to such an extent that Brian Cody made two changes by the 26th minute, along with six tactical tweaks around the field. Throughout this turbulent period though, Kieran Joyce made some outstanding interventions while Eoin Larkin kept the scoreline ticking over with four pointed frees.

They brought the lead back to two points as the intensity rose, even stretching to a difference of opinion on the sideline with the respective backrooms.

Each time Kilkenny looked like mounting an attack, a Dublin defender got a stick, paw or leg in to break up the play. That doggedness and commitment enabled them to conjure up chances at the other end. Through the excellent O'Callaghan they surged 0-8 to 0-4 up as the half neared an end.

Both teams missed chances, hitting six wides each before the break but on the stroke of half time Paul Ryan had a decent goal chance, but shot feebly. He missed the resultant '65' and everyone at O'Moore Park wondered whether those misses would prove decisive as both sides made for the dressing room after a fervent, action-packed opening half. Dublin led 0-11 to 0-7 at the break; we waited to see how they would fare after the restart.

Kilkenny had it back to just two points by the 50th minute. Dublin still defended with poise and class; the likes of Liam Rushe and Stephen Hiney were in top form, but they made life taxing for themselves at the other end of the field. Space was at a premium in both attacks but the Cats kept at it.

Richie Power moved to centre-forward and drove at the opposition. He caused serious bother for the Dubs. The gap was down to just a point with 18 minutes on the clock.

An air of inevitability loomed around Portlaoise? Danny Sutcliffe didn't think so. When Mark Schutte sent in a delicious, inviting centre, it looked like O'Callaghan would smash it home. He mis-hit it, Lester Ryan got a despairing hurl to it, but the lethal Sutcliffe struck it to the back of the net. It sent the Dubs into raptures as they surged ahead 1-13 to 0-12. Soon after Paul Ryan missed a free again – once more you wondered would it cost his side?

As Kilkenny turned the screw you sensed it would but eventually the Dubs got over the line. They can thank Sutcliffe for a great goal. In truth, though, their defence saw them home for a famous win.

Scorers – Dublin: P Ryan 0-8 (6f), D O'Callaghan 0-4, D Sutcliffe 1-0, C Keaney, M Schutte, S Durkin, E Dillon 0-1 each. Kilkenny: E Larkin 0-11 (9f, 2 '65's), R Power 0-3, TJ Reid, C Fennelly 0-1 each.

Dublin: G Maguire; N Corcoran, P Kelly, P Schutte; S Hiney, L Rushe, M Carton; J McCaffrey, J Boland; C Keaney, R O'Dwyer, D Sutcliffe; D O'Callaghan, D Treacy, P Ryan. Subs: C McCormack for O'Dwyer (h/t); S Durkin for Boland (45), M Schutte for Treacy (48), E Dillon for Ryan (65), S Lambert for McCaffrey (69).

Kilkenny: E Murphy; C Fogarty, JJ Delaney, J Tyrrell; T Walsh, B Hogan, K Joyce; M Rice, R Power; R Hogan, C Buckley, E Larkin; W Walsh, A Fogarty, TJ Reid. Subs: L Ryan for Buckley (inj 22), C Fennelly for Rice (26), M Ruth for Walsh (60), P Walsh for Tyrrell (66), G Aylward for Reid (67)

Referee: B Kelly (Westmeath)

Irish Independent

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