Brian Cody says Kilkenny’s league objective already achieved
Allianz HL Division 1A
Dublin 1-16 Kilkenny 2-20
Kilkenny will face Wexford in the quarter-final of the Allianz National Hurling League, following their accomplished victory against 14-man Dublin at Parnell Park yesterday.
TJ Reid, Conor Martin, and Liam Martin amassed a combined tally of 2-17 for the Cats, as the 31st-minute dismissal of goalkeeper Gary Maguire left Dublin with too much of a mountain to climb in the second half.
Kilkenny boss Brian Cody was delighted to see his side advancing to the knockout stages of this year’s competition, but also reserved praise for the challenge posed by Dublin — who will lock horns with 2016 league winners Clare in a do-or-die relegation play-off.
Cody said: “It was a serious, competitive game. It was just non-stop stuff. Obviously, they were down a player for a lot of the game, but they were really, really competitive. Took us all our time, only the last seven or eight minutes probably we began to pull away a small bit.
“The objective after [the game] below in Ennis [Kilkenny’s second round defeat to Clare], I said that our ambition for the league was to get to the quarter-final, and we’ll take it from there. The suggestion was that it couldn’t happen, so at least we are there now.”
Emeralds star Conor Martin had been drafted into the Kilkenny starting line-up for this game, and he rattled the back of the Dublin net in the eighth minute.
He also cancelled out a Donal Burke free with a sharp point from play, but courtesy of consecutive points from Niall McMorrow, Burke (two), and half-back Chris Crummey, the Sky Blues opened up a three-point gap before the half-hour mark.
They subsequently suffered a double setback, though, when Maguire received his marching orders for a late challenge on Blanchfield — after the Kilkenny corner-forward claimed his side’s second goal of the contest.
His place between the sticks was taken by his Ballyboden clubmate Conor Dooley, and thanks to a 0-2 salvo by Kilkenny marksman Reid, Dublin faced into a 0-10 to 2-5 deficit at the break.
Kilkenny looked set to make their numerical supremacy count with quickfire scores by Liam Blanchfield and Colin Fennelly after the resumption, before a 37th-minute three-pointer from Burke levelled matters once again.
Dublin kept the scoreboard ticking with Burke efforts in the 40th and 42nd minutes, and although Kilkenny registered unanswered scores through Reid (two), Martin, and Blanchfield, points from Crummey (his third) and Ben Quinn reduced Dublin’s deficit to a minimum.
However, Kilkenny used their extra man to telling effect during the final 20 minutes, and with Blanchfield, Reid, Martin, and Walter Walsh all finding the target, they outscored the hosts by 0-8 to 0-2 to place the outcome beyond doubt.
Having played some encouraging hurling since their opening round drubbing to Tipperary in Croke Park, Dublin supremo Ger Cunningham is disappointed they couldn’t avoid finishing at the foot of Division 1A.
Yet, with a strong contingent from All-Ireland club champions Cuala set to resume training on Tuesday night, he is already looking forward to next weekend’s showdown with Clare.
“That’s where we are. We’re looking forward to next weekend. All the lads coming back in [from Cuala] have been here before. They all know what it’s like to play with Dublin, and they’re looking forward to coming back in as well,” said the former Cork goalkeeper.
“They won a fantastic competition. It’s time now for them to move on, and start integrating back in with us as well. They’re down off that high, but I think they’ll be looking forward to coming back with us.”
Scorers for Dublin:
D Burke (1-9, 5 frees, 2 65s); C Crummey (0-3); B Quinn, N McMorrow, R O’Dwyer, C Boland (0-1 each).
Scorers for Kilkenny:
TJ Reid (0-10, 5 frees, 1 65); C Martin (1-5); L Blanchfield (1-2); C Fennelly, W Walsh, R Hogan (0-1 each).
G Maguire; F O Riain Broin, E O’Donnell, S Barrett; C Crummey, L Rushe, C Mac Gabhann; B Quinn, D Fox; E Conroy, N McMorrow, R O’Dwyer; E Dillon, D Burke, C Boland.
C Dooley for Conroy (32), F McGibb for Fox (h-t), R McBride for Mac Gabhann (52), C O’Sullivan for Boland (59), F Whitely for Quinn (61).
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.
P Lyng for Fennelly (17-25, blood sub), J Holden for P Walsh (h-t), Lyng for Hogan (52), K Joyce for O’Shea (62).
P O’Dwyer (Carlow).