Leinster MHC: Late surge gets young Cats through
Kilkenny 3-23 Dublin 4-12
A late scoring blitz helped Kilkenny to see off the stubborn challenge of Dublin in the opening round at Parnell Park yesterday.
Courtesy of a Luke Swan goal in the 55th-minute (his third of the contest), the Sky Blues were on level terms with the champions. However, after a Ciaran Brennan three-pointer fired Kilkenny back in front, they closed out this Tier One encounter clinically.
After the hosts broke the deadlock with a pointed free by Liam Dunne, the towering Swan fired beyond the reach of Kilkenny netminder Jason Brennan for the opening goal. Kilkenny soon settled with scoring contributions from Cian Kenny and Jack Morrissey, before moving ahead for the first time on 16 minutes.
Cathal O’Leary’s clinical strike raised a green flag for his side, and although Swan responded with another goal, George Murphy bagged a second goal for an increasingly confident Kilkenny.
Following a couple of wayward efforts by Brennan, Conor Kelly assumed free-taking duties for the Cats. His two-point salvo was complemented by additional scores from Murphy, Brennan and O’Leary, while centre-back Alex O’Neill, Dara Purcell, Swan and Dunne (free) found the target.
Kilkenny were good value for their interval cushion (2-10 to 2-7) and they created further daylight with three unanswered frees by the reliable Kelly after the break. The influential O’Loughlin Gaels star continued to excel as the half developed, but Dublin received a lifeline in the form of a Dunne goal at the end of the third quarter.
Swan then completed his hat-trick five minutes from time to wipe out Kilkenny’s lead (2-18 to 4-12), though this was as close as Dublin came to claiming the spoils.
After Brennan’s majestic finish moved the Marble County back into the ascendancy, the outstanding Kelly hit five points without reply to ease them over the line.
Scorers – Kilkenny: C Kelly 0-14 (12f), C Brennan 1-3 (0-1f), G Murphy 1-2, C O’Leary 1-1, J Morrissey 0-2, C Kenny 0-1.
Dublin: L Swan 3-1, L Dunne 1-7 (0-5f, 0-1 ’65’), D Purcell 0-2, A O’Neill, P Christie 0-1 each.
Kilkenny – J Brennan; P Dempsey, J Young, J Harkin; S Staunton, P Moylan, H Walsh; C Kenny, C Kelly; D Maher, C Brennan, J Morrissey; C O’Leary, G Murphy, K Hogan. Sub: E Guilfoyle for Hogan (46).
Dublin – J Lambert; K Byrne, C Hogan, T Cullen; E Carney, A O’Neill, I O hEithir; D Leavy, D Power; D McLoughney, P Christie, C Foley; L Dunne, L Swan, D Purcell. Subs: F Murphy for Cullen (h-t), C Murray for McLoughney (36), A O’Toole for Foley (44), S Fenton for Purcell (57).
REF – B Redmond (Wexford).