Cats sent out the message - we want McCarthy again

The message went out loud and clear to Galway, Tipperary, Waterford, Cork and all places hurling.........Kilkenny mean business again this season, writes John Knox.

The message went out loud and clear to Galway, Tipperary, Waterford, Cork and all places hurling.........Kilkenny mean business again this season, writes John Knox.

The Cats, the defending Leinster and All-Ireland senior hurling champions, turned in a performance of power, might and absolute class when they kicked off their 2012 campaign by obliterating Dublin (2-21 to 0-9) in the provincial semi-final in Portlaois this evening. The want McCarthy back!

Kilkenny sauntered into the July 8 decider against Galway in Croke Park because, really, the game was over at half-time when they led by 2-10 to 0-6 after playing against the stiffish breeze. The Dubs, who were never really at the races, were restricted to a mere three points during the closing half.

“That was a stong performance, definitely,” conceded Kilkenny manager, Brian Cody, who never over states the case with regard to his charges. “Some of the hurling was terrific, and our opening half goals were top class.”

Ah yes, those goals. The first arrived in the 16th minute after T.J. Reid and Richie Power, the central attackers, cobbled together a move that danced along like hurling poetry. Reid won possession around midfield before charging forward. He ghosted past two defenders before he worked a 1-2 with Power before racing on to receive the ball back inside the 20 metre line on the left.

A fierce angled drive beat Dublin goalie, Gary Maguire all ends up. It was the beginning of the end for the losers. The gap opened to 1-3 to 0-3.

The second goal arrived in the 26th minute. Eoin Larkin stole the ball off the opposition on the left wing and drilled it across field to Colin Fennelly around 35 metres in front of the goal. The Shamrocks man charged forward a bit before popping a high pass inside to Richie Power, who lashed the ball home from 10 metrres on the left.

The difference was already 2-7 to 0-4. Dublin were in big, big trouble.

Kilkenny had the foot to the floor and they motored thorugh the opposition. Brian Hogan was superb at centre-back and bulldozed the opposition back every time they tried to make ground. Richie Doyle was wonderful on his left, getting through some lovely hurling, and behind them, J.J. Delaney was commanding on the edge of the square.

Up front then T.J. Reid and Richie Hogan produced the best hurling early on, later to be joined by Richie Power and Eoin Larkin, with Henry Shefflin, who finished with 10 points to his credit, easing nicely through what was his first inter-county match since last year’s All-Ireland final. A game like this will do Shefflin the power of good.

The Dubs looked up from the wrong end of a 2-10 to 0-6 scoreline at the break. It was game up for them already.

“We just didn’t perform,” was the summary from Dublin manager, Anthony Daly afterwards. “During training all week and even in the warm-up our touch was grand and we looked fine, but, and I don’t want to take anything from Kilkenny, we just didn’t perform when the match started. This was most disappointing.”

Some going by Kilkenny, and especially so without the services of 2011 player of the year, Michael Fennelly and Michael Rice.

Scorers: Kilkenny - Henry Shefflin (0-10, nine frees, one 65); Richie Power (1-3); T.J. Reid (1-2); Richie Hogan, Eoin Larkin, Paddy Hogan (0-2 each). Dublin - Paul Ryan (0-4, two frees); Danny Sutcliffe, Ryan O’Dwyer, David Treacy, David O’Callaghan (0-1 each); Alan McCrabbe (0-1, free).

Kilkenny - D. Herity, P. Murphy, J.J. Delaney, J. Tyrrell, T. Walsh, B. Hogan, R. Doyle, C. Buckley, P. Hogan, H. Shefflin, T.J. Reid, E. Larkin, C. Fennelly, R. Power, R. Hogan. Subs - N. Hickey for Delaney (inj) 47th min; A. Fogarty for Buckley 53rd min; M. Ruth for C. Fennelly 56th min; K. Joyce for T. Walsh 64th min; J. Tennyson for B. Hogan 68th min.

Dublin - G. Maguire, N. Corcoran, P. Kelly, T. Brady, S. Hiney, J. Boland, M. Carton, J. McCaffrey, S. Durkin, C. McCormack, D. Sutcliffe, C. Keaney, P. Ryan, L. Rushe, R. O’Dwyer. Subs - D. Treacy for Keaney (inj) 14th min; R. Trainor for N. Corcoran 28th min; A. McCrabbe for C. McCormack 34th min; R. O’Carroll for S. Durkin ht; D. O’Callaghan for P. Ryan 49th min.

Referee - B. Kelly (Westmeath).