Slick Cats teach young Blues harsh lesson with ten-point defeat
Dublin's ESB Leinster Minor Hurling Championship campaign got off to a disappointing start as they suffered a 2-13 to 0-9 defeat at the hands of an impressive Kilkenny side at Nowlan Park on Saturday.
Most of the damage was done in the first-half as Dublin struggled to match the intensity of their opponents and a hamstring injury to midfielder Robert Hardy after only five minutes was a contributory factor in the Sky Blues' early problems, a fact alluded to by team manager John Murphy.
"I'm not sure why but we didn't really perform at all in the first-half and Robert's injury was definitely a blow. But Kilkenny showed up well from the start, showing what an excellent side they are.
"Kilkenny are a strong and experience side who let us know what championship hurling is all about and we're disappointed that only five of the lads played close to their potential with the rest sadly leaving something at home," added the Crumlin clubman.
After a scrappy start, the hosts seized the initiative after 10 minutes when Ger Aylward was on hand to fire home from close range after an intelligent pass from John Power.
The frees of Darren Kelly and Bally-boden St Enda's Cillian Moffat helped the Dubs stay in contention. But with Ollie Walsh and team captain Cillian Buckley proving extremely influential in midfield, points from wing-back Brian Kennedy and Buckley pushed the Cats further ahead prior to Kilkenny pouncing for a crucial second goal approaching the interval.
It followed a free-flowing move involving Aylward and Kevin Kelly with Thomas O'Hanrahan's clinical finish providing Kilkenny with a 10-point cushion (2-7 to 0-3), effectively killing off the tie as a contest by half-time.
Dublin improved after the break with Danny Sutcliffe, Glenn Whelan and substitute John Hetherton all contributing points to help narrow the deficit but the hosts were happy to absorb increased levels of pressure with Luke Harney in particular excelling at centre-back.
Further points from Aylward and a brace from substitute Michael Brennan kept the Dubs at arm's length and late scores from Hetherton and Moffat proved of scant consolation as Kilkenny ran out deserving 10-point winners, with Murphy keen to accentuate the positives from this difficult afternoon.
"It was an education for the lads and sometimes you have to experience these days to appreciate what's required at this level.
"We learnt a lot today which we'll hopefully bring with us into the Carlow game in a fortnight's time," concluded Murphy.
Scorers - Kilkenny: G Aylward 1-4, T O'Hanrahan 1-0, M Brennan, C Buckley, O Walsh (0-1 f) 0-2 each, B Kennedy, J Power ('65'), R Reid 0-1 each. Dublin: D Flood 0-3 (0-3 f), J Hetherton (0-1 f), C Moffat (0-2 f) 0-2 each, G Whelan, D Sutcliffe 0-1 each.
Kilkenny: D Walsh; J Corcoran, W Phelan, P Walsh; E McGrath, L Harney, B Kennedy; C Buckley, O Walsh; K Kelly, G Aylward, D Waugh; T O'Hanrahan, J Power, P Buggy. Subs: M Brennan for Waugh (30), R Reid for Buggy (42), S Bergin for O'Hanrahan (46), R Lennon for McGrath (53).
Dublin: E Dillon; C Murphy, C Moffat, S McClelland; C Crummy, G Cronin, J Breen; N Maguire, R Hardy; D Kelly, C Kilkenny, G Whelan; E Ó Conghaile, D Sutcliffe, D Flood. Subs: E McKenna for Hardy (5), B Quinn for Breen (ht), A Clabby for Ó Conghaile (45), J Hetherton for Flood (47), A Forde for Kelly (50).
Referee: P Murphy (Carlow).