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Cats strike late to shatter Dublin dreams


colm cronin

colm cronin


colm cronin

A FORTUITOUS Mark Mansfield goal in the 60th minute helped Kilkenny advance to the semi-finals of the Bord Gáis Energy Leinster U21 Hurling Championship after overcoming Dublin by two points at Parnell Park last night.

Dublin impressed during the second-half and looked to have done enough to claim the win but Mansfield's point attempt dropped short, catching Seán Brennan out in the home goal as the stared into the low sun.

Last year's beaten Leinster finalists (Dublin were beaten by Wexford) will wonder how they enjoyed just a two-point interval lead, 1-8 to 1-6, given the control that they exerted for large parts of the first-half, albeit with the benefit of a strong breeze at their backs.

That they failed to score for the final nine minutes of the half was a disappointing statistic given the number of genuine chances that they created and their failure from open play was undermining their chances with every wide they registered.

It was the Dubs who opened the scoring through an excellent point from Paul Winters in the third minute and they received a further boost two minutes later when they struck for the game's opening goal.

Fiontán McGibb was the architect of the score with a clever pass through to Seán Treacy and the Cuala attacker made the finish look easy with a crisp finish from eight metres.

With Shane Barrett and Cian Mac Gabhann impressing in Dublin's half-back line, the Dubs added to their advantage with Treacy adding a glorious score from under the stand in the seventh minute and a Winters free pushed the hosts five points clear by the 11th minute.

However, Kilkenny's attack had already threatened from sporadic possession and they revived their fortunes as Chris Bolger made a glorious catch with his resultant finish too powerful for Seán Brennan in the Dublin goal.

Although Dublin responded through a brace of scores by Treacy and a sublime sideline cut from Andrew Jamieson-Murphy, the fluidity of their attacking play was beginning to suffer as their opponents regained a foothold through a Conor Martin free and Liam Blanchfield's tidy point.

Dublin did manage to add points though Oisín O'Rorke and Winters as the half progressed but their collective confidence waned, culminating in a series of poor attempts on goal.

These misses handed Kilkenny a greater sense of belief and late points from Willie Brennan and Martin ensured they trailed by just two points (1-8 to 1-6) at the turnaround.

That deficit no londer existed within two minutes of the resumption as Kilkenny added quick-fire points through Mansfield and another Martin free as the momentum looked to be swinging the visitors' way.

However, it was at this juncture that the hosts played their most compelling hurling with Cian Boland becoming the most central performer on show.

The St Oliver Plunkett's/Eoghan Ruadh clubman began to revel in the increasingly open spaces as Dublin regained their lead through points by McGibb, Colm Cronin and Boland.

Boland's goal in the 42nd minute extended Dublin's grip on proceedings but the concession of two soft goals to James Maher and Ciarán Ryan ensured the tie remained on a knife-edge until the Cats found that little slice of luck to claim the win in the dying moments.

Scorers - Kilkenny: J Maher, M Mansfield 1-2 each, C Bolger 1-1, C Martin 0-4 (4f), C Ryan 1-0, L Hickey (f), L Blanchfield, W Brennan 0-1 each. Dublin: S Treacy (0-1f), C Boland 1-3 each, P Winters 0-4 (0-2f), F McGibb, O O'Rorke 0-2 each, AJ Murphy (0-1 sideline), C Cronin 0-1 apiece.

Kilkenny: D Brennan; C Delaney, C Wallace, E Cody; J Cleere, D Cody, P Deegan; C Ryan, M Mansfield; C Ryan, W Brennan, L Blanchfield; L Hickey, C Martin, C Bolger. Subs: L Scanlon for Martin (44), E Morrissey for D Cody (46), T Phelan for Blanchfield (55),

Dublin: S Brennan; J Madden, C O'Callaghan, S McClelland; E O'Donnell, S Barrett, C Mac Gabhann; J Malone, P Winters; C Cronin, F McGibb, C Boland; O'Rorke, S Treacy, AJ Murphy. Subs: R Murphy for Mac Gabhann (33), E McLaughlin for O'Donnell (36), C O'Neill for AJ Murphy (43), F O Riain Broin for Treacy (51).

Ref: Michael Murtagh (Westmeath) .