A 22nd-minute goal from Paul Winters proved crucial as Dublin deservedly overcame Kilkenny by five points in Portlaoise on Saturday afternoon.
Despite the benefit of a stiff breeze at their backs, the provincial title-holders struggled in the opening exchanges, with Kilkenny’s Conor Martin handing his side an early two-point advantage prior to his 12th minute penalty being superbly repelled by Cian MacGabhann in the Dublin goal.
The excellent Cormac Costello finally registered Dublin’s first score of the game in the 16th minute and Winters’ glorious finish, following a lengthy delivery from Colm Cronin, added impetus to their challenge.
Three further points from placed balls followed for the St Brigid’s player, before a late free from Martin left Kilkenny trailing by 1-5 to 0-4 at the interval.
A wonderful solo score by Costello immediately upon the restart extended Dublin’s advantage, but that lead was whittled down to two points by the 41st minute, with Martin adding three points in addition to a fine score from substituteDavid Burke.
Crucially, Dublin remained on top with their half-back line of Eoghan O’Donnell, Robert Murphy and Sean McClelland hugely influential, and another Costello point, in addition to a brace of Winters’ frees, helped restore their superiority on the scoreboard.
Cronin heaped further misery on the Cats with a sublime point 10 minutes from time to effectively confirm their progression, with the injury-time sending-off of Caolan Conway a disappointing footnote on an otherwise encouraging afternoon for Dublin.
SCORERS — Dublin: P Winters 1-7 (0-6f), C Costello 0-3, S McClelland, C Cronin 0-1 each. Kilkenny: C Martin 0-8 (4f, 1 ’65’), D Burke, S Donnelly 0-1 each.
Dublin — C Mac Gabhann; S Barrett, C O’Callaghan, E Lowndes; E O’Donnell, R Murphy, S McClelland; C Costello, C Cronin; C McHugh, S Treacy, C Conway; P Winters, C Boland, O O’Rorke. Subs: T Devlin for Lowndes (43), C Bennett for McHugh (60), J Roche for Boland (62).
Kilkenny — D Holohan; R Fitzpatrick, J McDowell, C Doyle; C Bolger, E Morrissey, J Maher; C Ryan, K Walsh; M Donnelly, D Cody, K Kenny; S Donnelly, C Martin, E Bergin. Subs: D Burke for Bergin (38), M Mansfield for Walsh (48), J McGrath for S Donnelly (52).
Ref — J Heffernan (Wexford)