The hurling championship’s new format received a great advertisement in its first televised game this evening. Brian Cody’s side rallied late to break Pat Gilroy’s heart and emerge victorious. Here are six of the biggest talking points.
1. Sweeper Causes Issues For Kilkenny Once Again
Despite obvious progress throughout the spring in this Kilkenny side’s set-up, we once again saw the Cats struggle with the sweeper system. Seán Moran hurled an ocean of ball as the Cuala man carried his amazing club form to the inter-county championship.
Throughout the game, we witnessed Kilkenny revert back to some old failings as they lumped ball aimlessly down to Moran.
Whilst the late victory may paper over some of the cracks, Brian Cody will have a few worries here.
2. Physical Full-Forwards Dominant Throughout
Whilst the day of the overweight goal-poacher may be gone, strength proved to be a key asset in the number 14 position in Parnell Park today. Both Walter Walsh and Liam Rushe caused colossal issues for their opposing defences this afternoon.
Walsh provided great leadership to a Kilkenny attack that struggled massively at times throughout the 70 minutes and contributed several scores.
At the other end Liam Rushe, played a massive part in the three goals scored by the Dubs.
3. Substitutions The Difference As Kilkenny Bench Comes Up Trumps
Henry Shefflin at half time this evening alluded to the fact that Brian Cody must have been worried when we saw him introduce Colin Fennelly at half-time. However, Fennelly along with the other four introductions were key to Kilkenny claiming two points here.
Fennelly bagged three points in the second half, while Liam Blanchfield’s goal was obviously the major turning point. But the real swing in momentum came with the introduction of Paul Murphy who allowed Kilkenny to gain control in their half-back line.
4. Dublin Final Quarter Scoring Drought The Difference
As Dublin rattled the net for the third time in this Leinster championship game, it appeared the Dubs were set to spring an upset. However, it wasn’t to be as the 2013 Leinster champions suffered a famine of scores in the final quarter.
One key issue which may have caused this drought was the loss of Conal Keaney from the Dublin attack, the experienced centre forward was performing well until his injury. The Dubs will also rue their many shots which either fell short or wide of the posts.
5. Dubs Will Play A Bigger Role In This Year’s Championship Than Most Thought
Pat Gilroy’s charges will undoubtedly be bitterly disappointed with this afternoon’s defeat, however there are many positives to take from this performance. The Dublin half-back line in particular were immense for the sky-blues.
Most tipped the men from the capital to be involved in a relegation battle with Offaly this year. However, the faithful will have to have been worried watching this game this evening, as will the top three challengers Wexford and Galway.
6. Cats Brought Back To Reality, May Need To Revert To Experienced Players
Much was made of the young talent introduced by Kilkenny over the league campaign, however more than one of their new contingent struggled in their championship debuts. Of course, patience will be needed with these newcomers as they adapt to championship levels.
But in reflection of this game Kilkenny will see that their experienced players dragged them through this game. Don’t be surprised to see Paul Murphy, Colin Fennelly and Conor Fogarty re-introduced next week. The Cats will also be eager to see Richie Hogan return to action.