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Thursday 8 December 2016

Dublin minors are pipped at post by cool Cats in thrilling duel

A dejected Matthew Oliver, Dublin, after the game
A dejected Matthew Oliver, Dublin, after the game

Holders Kilkenny finished with a flourish to edge out a spirited Dublin by 1-17 to 1-15 in their thrilling Electric Ireland Leinster Minor Hurling Championship final at Croke Park yesterday afternoon.

The Dubs looked well set for their first provincial title in three years as they inched two points clear with four minutes remaining but Kilkenny showed admirable composure in the closing stages to reel in their opponents and clinch the two-points win following excellent points by substitutes Conor Hennessy and Edmund Delaney.

Despite taking the lead through an early free from Matthew Oliver, Dublin struggled to impose themselves initially and they suffered a blow in the sixth minute as Tadhg O'Dwyer was given far too much room to fire an unstoppable shot beyond Eoin Skelly.

Matters deteriorated for Dublin with Kilkenny increasing their lead through a Joe Connolly point but Oliver crucially landed two settling frees before Fergal Whitely tagged on their first score from play at the end of the first quarter.

STRONGLY

Three Oliver frees ensured Dublin restored parity by the 22nd minute but crucially, Kilkenny finished the half strongly with two points from John Donnelly and another Gaffney free inching the champions 1-7 to 0-8 clear by the interval. Dublin's hopes were increased with a minute of the restart as substitute Alex Considine made an instant impact as he burst through to strike an unerring finish past Shane Murphy in the Kilkenny goal.

Despite Gaffney hitting two frees in reply, Dublin were very much the dominant force in the third quarter as they regained their lead through points from Eoghan Conroy and Oliver and the same players added to their personal tallies as the half progressed to leave the Dubs three clear by the 44th minute.

However, the cohesion in their play began to suffer as the contest evolved with Kilkenny, driven on by the excellent Richie Leahy hit the next three points through Delaney and a Leahy brace to leave the contest on a knife-edge.

Oliver and Considine appeared to have recorded pivotal scores as tension reached fever pitch but a calm Kilkenny ended the game in an assured manner and after Leahy and Daniel O'Connor had tie the match, Hennessy and Delaney struck the critical points to thwart the Dubs.

Scorers - Kilkenny: A Gaffney 0-5 (0-5f), R Leahy 0-4 (0-2f), T O'Dwyer 1-0, J Donnelly, E Delaney 0-2 each, J Connolly, D O'Connor, J Cuddihy, C Hennessy 0-1 each. Dublin: M Oliver 0-10 (9f, 1 '65'), A Considine 1-1, E Conroy 0-2, F Whitely, D Burke 0-1 each.

Kilkenny: S Murphy; M Cody, T Walsh, C McGrath; D Mullen, D Joyce, C Doheny; R Leahy, J Connolly; D O'Connor, T O'Dwyer, J Donnelly; A Gaffney, J Cuddihy, N Walsh. Subs: E Delaney for N Walsh (42), C Hennessy for Gaffney (47), B Sheehan for Donnelly (53).

Dublin: E Skelly; C Hendricken, C Brady, D Butler; E Foley, P Smyth, D Butler; M Oliver, C Sammon; E Conroy, M Maguire, F Whitely; E Dunne, D Burke, C Burke. Subs: C O'Sullivan for Brady (30), A Considine for C Burke (half-time), A Mellett for Maguire (41), C Dowling for Sammon (49), D Gray for Butler 58).

Ref: Michael Murtagh (Westmeath).

 

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