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Allianz HL D1: Kilkenny too strong for Dublin

Allianz Hurling League Division 1 Group B

KILKENNY 3-21 DUBLIN 0-18

By Brendan Graham at UPMC Nowlan Park

Two goals from corner forward Billy Ryan saw Kilkenny ease to an impressive victory.

The first exchange of scores came after five minutes with frees from Oisin ORorke and Alan Murphy getting both sides off the mark.

There was a real urgency from Dublins forward line early on and a weaving run from Danny Sutcliffe past Conor Delaney gave ORorke another routine free to give Dublin a 0-2 to 0-1 lead after eight minutes.

Despite the early concession of two soft frees, Kilkennys hunger and work rate was exceptional off the ball and their persistent harrying and pressure was rewarded on eleven minutes with Ger Aylward too quick for ODonnell before burying the sliothar past Nolan in the Dublin goal from fourteen metres. Kilkenny taking the lead for the first time 1-1 to 0-2.

Aylwards goal resulted in a much more relaxed and natural performance from the Kilkenny forwards for the remainder of the half. By no means shooting the lights out but their first touch and creation of space and scores seemed to come far easier for them once they breached Nolans goal for the first time in the game.

Kilkennys Conor Fogarty and Alan Murphy were linking up fantastically well in midfield and were the real driving force behind the control Brian Codys side took of the game as the first half progressed.

Seven points between them in the first half contributed hugely to the home sides first half tally of 2-10 and Mattie Kenny will have been disappointed with Dublins output in terms of scores in the opening thirty five minutes with their end product not matching their work rate at all.

Oisin ORorke, Dublins best player in the first half was keeping his side in the game with a combination of frees and fine individual points leaving Dublin trailing 1-6 to 0-6 with 10 minutes remaining in the opening half.

With Dublin tipping away and doing their best to stay with Kilkenny, corner forward Billy Ryan dealt a real body blow to Kennys side easing past Eoghan ODonnell, luring Nolan out from the goal before nestling the sliothar into the corner of the goal. Kilkenny taking control of the match and extending their lead 2-6 to 0-6.

Dublin werent playing badly but were struggling to match Kilkennys savage work rate and hunger and the steady momentum Codys side were building.

A red card for Kilkennys Richie Leahy following a high frontal tackle on Danny Sutcliffe with half time edging closer threatened to put a sudden half to the dangerous momentum that the Cats were building but to their credit they continued to snuff out any real Dublin threat in front of goal and went in at the break leading 2-10 to 0-10.

Despite being reduced to fourteen men midway through the first half, Kilkenny will have been much the happier side heading for the dressing room at half time.

Trailing by six points at half time, Dublin needed a quick fire start to the second half and got just that with two points in quick succession from the impressive Sean Moran and Eamonn Dillon reducing the deficit by two.

Knocking over points was never going to be enough for the Boys in Blue on an afternoon where Kilkenny were in the mood for green flags in the air.

Despite enjoying the benefit and supposed space of an extra man for the duration of the second half, Dublin never got their performance going to the standard of the Nolwan Park hosts and for any spectators tuning in late to the match they would be forgiven for assuming it was Kilkenny with the full 15.

Brian Cody will have been extremely satisfied by how his side kicked on in the second half with no let up at all coming from his side. Another encouraging take from the game will have been the overall spread of scores throughout the team including two fine scores from the impressive Paddy Deegan in the second half.

As the second half progressed and Kilkennys hold on the game tightened, Cody emptied his bench with the knowledge that he would have plenty of young hurlers eager to get out on the field and attempt to put themselves into contention for the next day with the games coming thick and fast over the coming weeks.

In what turned out to be his last contribution of the afternoon, an ambitious long range effort from Billy Ryan somehow found the back of the net to give him his second goal of the afternoon and extend Kilkennys lead again. 3-18 to 0-16.

Dublin to their credit never allowed their heads to drop despite the game looking well beyond their reach from an early enough stage in the second half.

Kilkenny finished with a flourish with late points from Kilkenny substitutes Martin Keoghan and Luke Scanlon ensuring the home crowd went home happy having witnessed a hugely impressive Kilkenny performance.

Scorers for Kilkenny: Alan Murphy 0-8 7fs, Bill Ryan 2-0, Ger Aylward 1-0, Paddy Deegan 0-2, Conor Fogarty 0-2, Walter Walsh 0-2, Niall Brassil 0-2, John Donnelly 0-1, Martin Keoghan 0-1, Luke Scanlon 0-1, Michael Carey 0-1, Bill Sheehan 0-1.

Scorers for Dublin: Oisin ORorke 0-6 4fs, Sean Moran 0-4 3fs, Ronan Hayes 0-2, Eamonn Dillon 0-2, Danny Sutcliffe 0-1, Chris Crummey 0-1, Rian McBride 0-1, Tomas Connolly 0-1.

KILKENNY: Eoin Murphy; Ciaran Wallace, Huw Lawlor, Conor Delaney; Michael Cody, Paddy Deegan, Michael Carey; Conor Fogarty, Alan Murphy; John Donnelly, Walter Walsh, Richie Leahy; Billy Ryan, Ger Aylward, Niall Brassil.

Subs: Martin Keoghan for Ger Aylward 45min, James Maher for Alan Murphy 52min, Tommy Walsh for Michael Cody 56min, Bill Sheehan for Billy Ryan 60min

DUBLIN: Alan Nolan; Paddy Smyth, Eoghan O'Donnell, James Madden; Chris Crummey, Daire Gray, Cian OCallaghan; Fergal Whitely, Rian McBride; Tomas Connolly, Danny Sutcliffe, Ronan Hayes; Cian Boland, Oisin O'Rorke, Eamonn Dillon.

Subs: Sean Moran for Fergal Whitely 31min, Mark Schutte for Cian Boland 40min, Lorcan McMullan for Tomas Connolly 57min, John Hetherton for Rian McBride 65min

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