SCORERS: Dublin – Cormac Costello (1-2); Emmet O Conghaile (0-3); Ciaran Kilkenny, Paul Winters, Oisin O’Rorke (0-2, 0-1 free each); Jamie Desmond (0-1, free); Chris Crummy, Glenn Whelan (0-1 each). Kilkenny – Johnny Hayes (1-0); Kevin Kelly (0-3, 0-2 frees); Peter Vickery, Richie Reid (0-2 each); Conor O’Shea, Thomas O’Hanrahan, David Kearns, James Maher (0-1 each).
DREAMS of a quartet of Leinster hurling titles ended in agony for the Kilkenny minors.
The Cats had beaten Dublin by 13 points in last year’s decider to make it three Leinster titles in a row, but there was no such repeat on Sunday. Try as they might, they couldn’t break down the Blue wall that saw the side from the capital pick up their first silverware since 2007.
The killer blow, as far as Kilkenny were concerned, came in the dying seconds of the first half. Latching on to an Aodhan Clabby hand-pass Cormac Costello pulled first time on the loose ball, sending it crashing past netminder Aaron Duggan.
That goal spelled disaster for the Cats. After an indifferent half Adrian Ronan’s were hot on the heels of the Dubs, trailing by just two points (0-8 to 0-6). Now, Costello’s strike left them five behind and in trouble.
Off the mark
Although Kilkenny were first off the mark – Peter Vickery firing over the opening point after a Kevin Kelly 65 came back off an upright – the Cats failed to build on their lead.
Instead, it was Dublin who ground out the scores. Although they shot a number of wides – they were into double figures by half-time – a point from Glenn Whelan and two by Paul Winters gave the Dubs the lead by the tenth minute.
Kilkenny took their time to settle, but looked to have found their rhythm by the end of the first quarter. Kevin Kelly rattled off a fine point, splitting the Canal End posts following a fine solo. Thomas O’Hanrahan was quick to follow, reaching highest to pick off Richie Reid’s sizzling pass and then turning his man before striking to leave the sides all square after 15 minutes.
The sides continued to trade points after that, as the game began its brightest spell, but it was Dublin who shone best. Half-back Chris Crummy grabbed the pick of their scores, racing inside Kilkenny territory as they surged ahead by the 20th minute (0-6 to 0-4).
Kilkenny refused to panic, but got a sign of what kind of day it would be when they were awarded a free close to the 25m line. Kevin Kelly opted to go for goal, but his searing shot was well stopped by ’keeper Cormac Ryan.
That save gave the Dubs a huge boost. They built on that momentum, adding more points to their tally via Cormac Costello and Emmet O Conghaile, but couldn’t shake Kilkenny off. Richie Reid and Conor O’Shea landed impressive points, but that Costello goal took the wind out of the black and amber sails just before half-time.
Pressed into action, Kilkenny hit the ground running after the restart. Kevin Kelly got them going with a free, but it could have been even better had Conor Martin’s searing 38th minute shot not flashed wide of the far post.
That miss aside, Kilkenny were a new team in the early stages of the second half. Subs David Kearns and James Maher added their names to the scoresheet, while Peter Vickery added another as they regained their stride.
Crucially, they had also limited Dublin to just one point in that third quarter, but they couldn’t make it last.
Dublin, sensing Kilkenny were snapping at their heels again, upped the tempo in the final quarter. They rattled off three points in succession to stretch their lead back out to five (1-12 to 0-10). Equally as impressive was their defensive work, as they limited Kilkenny’s time on the ball, hassling and harrying at every opportunity.
Two Ciaran Kilkenny points, each one coming either side of a Richie Reid effort, looked like tipping Dublin towards the title, but Kilkenny weren’t finished yet.
With seconds of normal time left the Cats gave it one last charge. Sub Johnny Hayes was a late introduction to the game but a timely one, as he gathered Thomas O’Hanrahan’s hand-pass and then picked his spot with a sweet strike to the bottom right corner of Dublin’s net.
That goal spurred everyone one, providing the fuel Kilkenny needed as they charged for the line. Needing a goal to snatch a draw, Kevin Kelly almost got it when he tried to flick Hayes’s pass into the net – but full-back Cian O’Callaghan’s timely block ensured there were no last gasp heroics. Kilkenny – A. Duggan (Dicksboro), J. McDowell (John Lockes), C. Doyle (Barrow Rangers), E. Morrissey (Bennettsbridge), C. O’Shea (Clara), D. Cody (James Stephens), O. McGrath (John Lockes), K. Walsh (Piltown), C. Bolger (Clara), P. Vickery (Conahy Shamrocks), P. Keneally (Dunnamaggin), K. Kelly (St Patrick’s), T. O’Hanrahan (Thomastown), C. Martin (Emeralds), R. Reid (Shamrocks). Subs: D. Kearns (Mooncoin) for Keneally, 31 mins; J. Maher (St Lachtain’s) for Martin, 38 mins; R. Moran (Erin’s Own) for Walsh, 49 mins; J. Hayes (Kilmacow) for Vickery, 58 mins.
Dublin – C. Ryan, E. Lowndes, C. O’Callaghan, S. McClelland, C. Crummy, J. Desmond, M. McCaffrey, G. Whelan, C. Cronin, C. Kilkenny, C. McHugh, E. O Conghaile, C. Costello, A. Clabby, P. Winters. Subs: O. O’Rorke for Winters, 31 mins; B. McCarthy for Cronin, 50 mins; C. Boland for Whelan, D. Forde for McHugh, both 58 mins.
Referee – J. Heffernan (Wexford).