Kilkenny make good use of League

Jackie Tyrrell (Kilkenny) gets away from Niall Healy (Galway) during the NHL in Nowlan Park.  (Photo: Eoin Hennessy)
At the finish the result was a little tighter than it need have been, but there was no denying the merits of Kilkenny’s latest success over Galway in the National Hurling League.

At the finish the result was a little tighter than it need have been, but there was no denying the merits of Kilkenny’s latest success over Galway in the National Hurling League.

Although the winners enjoyed the advantage of the breeze in the opening half their play was far more productive and focused than their opponents. Aside from the hard-grafting Gearóid McInerney, Galway appeared leaderless and clueless. Their defence had big problems coping with the incessant pressure. The ever-improving Mark Kelly again showed a canny eye for goal with an early three-pointer.

Galway had problems further out the field also, with Richie Hogan and Geoff Brennan comfortably in control. Kilkenny’s second goal from Hogan was an inevitable score after consistent pressure. Jonjo Farrell’s part in that goal must be acknowledged.

After a hugely disappointing opening half we expected Galway to play with more passion after the break. So it turned out. The Westerners were far more competitive.

They enjoyed a bit of luck with Kilkenny somewhat unfortunate not to score at least one further goal, and possibly two. Had Kilkenny managed even one second half goal the final margin of victory would have been a lot more comfortable.

Jonjo Farrell’s ‘goal’ following a fine run by Mark Kelly should have been allowed stand. Aside from Conor Cooney’s goal from a penalty, Galway rarely threatened Eoin Murphy’s goal.

Eyebrows were raised when the Kilkenny team was announced with many well known names not even listed in the subs. The game proved an ideal opportunity to give others further game time. The team mentors will be very pleased at how the new men are progressing.

Competition for places is growing and it is creating the sort of dilemma which every selector wants. The experimentation is likely to continue in the remaining games against Dublin and Waterford.

Kilkenny lead Division 1A after three rounds. One more League win would guarantee a quarter-final spot.

In the other Division 1A games, Tipperary leaked another four goals against Clare making. Nine three-pointers the Premier County has conceded in its last two games. That must be worrying for mentors.

Clare’s win was a great response to their defeat at the hands of Dublin in the previous round. Like Kilkenny, they are building excellent momentum.

Waterford is second to Kilkenny after last weekend‘s games. They will be delighted to have taken Dublin’s scalp, despite having to play with 14 men for the second half.

As for Dublin, their performance against the Déise was a pale shadow of what they showed against Clare in the previous round. The Metropolitans are currently propping up the Division 1A table. They must defeat Kilkenny this weekend if they are to avoid a relegation battle.

That is the last thing Anthony Daly wants before the championship.

Success for CBS

The curtain-raiser on Sunday saw Kilkenny CBS deservedly defeat great rivals St Kieran’s College in the Leinster colleges senior hurling final. The contrast in approach from the two teams was obvious in the opening half. The CBS displayed the sort of attitude required to win a major final. Kieran’s were ambling through the motions, showing little appetite for battle.

Six points separated the sides at the finish, but it would be too simple an explanation to say that the difference between the teams was the two goals the CBS scored in the first half. Both came from smart finishing by the winners attack, but it was also a case of poor defending by the college. When St. Kieran’s look back on a video, they will bemoan the lack of concentration which led to those crucial scores.

The CBS go into the All-Ireland semis while Kieran’s play Galway opponents next weekend in the quarter-final.