Leinster U21HC: Cats dethrone Dubs

May 31, 2017

Kilkenny's Tommy Walsh with Conor Burke of Dublin.
©INPHO/Tommy Dickson.

Kilkenny relieved Dublin of their provincial crown when roaring to an impressive 0-21 to 0-16 quarter-final victory at Nowlan Park.

All-Ireland minor champions three years ago, the winners produced a solid performance to see off Johnny McGuirk's gritty charges and set up a semi-final date with their 2016 conquerors, Westmeath. Caught at the first hurdle by the Lake County last year, Kilkenny looked doubly determined tonight and made no mistake, even though Richie Leahy missed out through injury.

At the end of a keenly-contested opening period, the home side led by 0-9 to 0-7 having played against the breeze. Top scorer Alan Murphy slotted three of those first-half points for the Noresiders.

A late addition to the Cats starting team, Shane Walsh opened the scoring with a sweetly-struck shot from the right after just 45 seconds. Walsh then had a goal effort saved by Jonathan Treacy before Colin Currie tied the scores up from a close-range free.

Eoghan Conroy's beautifully-improvised finish had the Dubs in front for the only time on six minutes but a brace of Alan Murphy points - the second from play - edged Eddie Brennan's men back ahead in the 13th minute. It was double scores in favour of the Black & Amber at the midway stage in the first half after corner forward Billy Ryan smashed over a tremendous point from the middle of the park - 0-4 to 0-2.

Liam Blanchfield chipped in with the fifth Cats point and the winners also bagged two of the next three points via Man of the Match Ryan and Tommy Walsh after Rian McBride had drilled over a fantastic Dublin score. Murphy brilliantly cancelled out a Currie free to make it double scores again with seven minutes left before the break, 0-8 to 0-4.

Currie nonchalantly clipped over another couple of frees to close the gap to two with the short whistle looming but midfielder Sean Morrissey popped up with a lovely Kilkenny point before brilliantly dispossessing Donal Burke as the Dublin senior bore down ominously on goal. Currie's injury-time free brought an end to the first-half scoring with just two points separating the teams at the interval.

Half-time Dub sub Cian O'Sullivan got the first score of the second half and Murphy replied from a free before both goalkeepers made important saves. Murphy's fifth (free) and Ryan's third made it 0-12 to 0-8 with 23 minutes remaining.

McBride and Murphy (free) traded points and Shane Walsh flashed a shot over the Dublin bar after Fergal Whitely had replied to a Murphy free - 0-15 to 0-10 with 43 minutes gone. John Walsh and Ryan hit the target as the winners started to flex their muscle.

But Dublin refused to roll over and forced their way back into contention with three successive points from Currie (2) and Donal Burke to leave four between the sides with five minutes left…

Full forward McBride brought the sides even closer but substitute John Donnelly steadied the Cats with a vital 57th minute point from the left wing. Back came the Dubs again with a Currie free to remain very much within striking distance with two minutes left, 0-18 to 0-15.

Again, it was that man Donnelly who hit a terrific score for the Black & Amber - this one from the other wing! Another sub, James Bergin, and Murphy (free) tagged on more Kilkenny points and home goalkeeper Darren Brennan executed an astonishing diving save before an injury-time Currie free went over the bar to close the gap to five, which was how it finished.

Kilkenny - D Brennan; M Cody, C Delaney, R Bergin; C Doheny, J Cleere, T Walsh (0-1); H Lawlor, S Morrissey (0-1); P Lyng, S Walsh (0-2), J Walsh (0-1); A Murphy (0-7, 6f), L Blanchfield (0-1), B Ryan (0-5). Subs: J Donnelly (0-2) for L Blanchfield, L Scanlon for P Lyng, J Bergin (0-1) for S Walsh, D Mullen for C Doheny; C Hennessy for J Walsh.

Dublin - J Treacy; D Gray, S Barrett, J O'Neill; C Hendricken, J Malone, P O'Dea; B Bolger, D Burke (0-1); E Conroy (0-1), F Whitely (0-1), C Burke; C Currie (0-9, 6f, 1'65), R McBride (0-3), P Crummey. Subs: E McHugh for C Burke, C O'Sullivan (0-1) for P Crummey, C Sammon for D Gray, J McGuirk for B Bolger, C Dowling for C Hendricken.

Referee - P Murphy.

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