Shane Stapleton reports from Croke Park as Kilkenny beat Dublin by 3-20 to 2-22 in dramatic fashion. Brought to you by 65Hurls.com
Kilkenny almost managed to throw away a 16-point lead against Dublin at Croke Park on Saturday evening.
Whether it was a collapse from the Cats or an exceptional comeback from the Dubs is a matter of opinion, but that 15-point swing in the final 25 minutes plus injury time was incredible.
So often, Kilkenny continue to pile on the pressure when they have an opponent on the floor, but Brian Cody could do little to stem the tide.
Had TJ Reid not scored one and set up two goals with his exceptional play, it’s difficult to know if the Cats would have won at all.
All six forwards had scored from play inside the opening half, and all seemed to be going to plan as the capital struggled to gain a foothold.
It was 3-13 to 0-7 at the interval, and Kilkenny tacked on another through John Donnelly on 43 minutes to make it 16 points of a lead.
Mattie Kenny chose the wrong match-up for Reid but altered that eventually, deployed Conor Burke as sweeper, and brought on scoring forwards in Ronan Hayes and Eamon ‘Trollier’ Dillon.
Davy Keogh and Liam Rushe hadn’t looked like raising flags from the get-go, and they didn’t get particularly good ball either, but the idea of holding ‘your finishers’ until later in the game may now be shelved.
Dublin ended the game with a team closer to what may start in the qualifiers.
For Kilkenny, there is a big question of depth now. Reid, as ever, is a colossus, but he needs more support.
Should he be tied down, as he was by Eoghan O’Donnell long after the horse had bolted, then where is the elite-level quality to back him up?
Yes, the Cats may have eased up after going so far in front, but that is not typical of a Cody team.
We haven’t seen a collapse of this nature, but the flipside is that they deserve credit for finding a way to win when the ground was shaking beneath them.
Given the manner of Galway’s win over Wexford, and taking into consideration that the Tribe won in Nowlan Park last season, it will take a huge performance for Kilkenny to reclaim the Leinster title.
Click play on the video at the top of the page to watch Shane Stapleton’s report from Croke Park.