Kilkenny began 2009 with a stern warning to the remainder of the hurling world as they crucified Dublin at Parnell Park last Sunday, with twice All-Ireland winning captain of Clare, Anthony Daly having a baptism of fire in his first game in charge of the metropolitans.
Only featuring six of last September’s All-Ireland winning side, the 4-in-a-row seeking All-Ireland champions saw six players make their senior inter-county debut and overall the sextet made a valuable contribution together.
Michael Grace made a very impressive debut to life as an inter-county senior as he scored 1-3 from play in a highly accomplished individual performance, while the surprise inclusion of Tullogher-Rosbercon’s Pat Hartley at centre-forward would have raised eyebrows because he’s not a natural forward and the Kilkenny junior champion is involved in this Sunday’s All-Ireland semi-final against their Galway counterparts Skehana.
Paddy Hogan (Danesfort ) also made his first senior inter-county appearance as he was introduced for Hartley and scored a goal, while clubmate Paul Murphy, still only 19, also made a good introduction to senior inter-county hurling as he scored a 0-1 when introduced for Tommy Walsh in the 59th minute.
Kieran Joyce and John Mulhall also entered the fray as a host of established marquee names were missing from the camp.
Minus the Shamrocks’ contingent due to their preparation for next month’s eagerly anticipated All-Ireland semi-final clash against Portumna, Michael Kavanagh, Noel Hickey, Derek Lyng, Martin Comerford, and Eoin Larkin were also absent as the ‘Cats’ managed to dethroned the capital men in unmerciful fashion in their own backyard.
The trouncing would have sent shivers down the spines of the opposing counties who will attempt manfully to try to close the staggering gap that exists at the top of the hurling tree.
The first-half was a lively competitive affair as a Michael Grace goal helped Kilkenny build up a 1-7 to 0-7 lead at the interval.
Dublin were over-relying on the services of talented midfielder Alan McCrabbe who scored 0-8 (6f 1’65 ) in an impressive display.
However, a major concern was the fact that their entire starting sextet failed to score from play, and having consolidated their division one status last season, Dublin have an awful lot of work to do as they face the big guns of hurling including in the last round of the league.
It was a point well acknowledged by Anthony Daly who admitted to have been astonished at Kilkenny’s enthusiasm having just returned from the annual holiday a week earlier.
“Kilkenny are way ahead physically and hurling wise,” Daly admitted. They’re operating on a different planet. They’ve achieved so much yet they continue to strive for success”.
“We had a tough week’s training, and it showed out there today. However, it’s better for such a disappointment to be occurring now than in the championship in summer. At least we’ve time to work on our shortcomings.
Kilkenny upped the ante during the third quarter as they added further goals from Richie Hogan, brothers Paddy and Aidan Fogarty, while (Paddy ) Hogan, Kieran Joyce, John Mulhall, and Paul Murphy were all introduced as substitutes to make their senior inter-county bow.
The problems got worse for Dublin in the closing 10 minutes, as Michael Rice and Richie Hogan added further goals before Richie was substituted under the new yellow card ruling as he made way for Eddie Brennan in the 66th minute.
John Mulhall’s overhead flick set up Richie Hogan as he pulled on the sliothar, before Michael Rice completed Kilkenny’s goal-tally when finishing from close range taking advantage of slack marking following a long range delivery by John Dalton.
The All-Ireland champions now make the long trip northwards to face Antrim on Sunday in Casement Park, and they’ll be seeking revenge for last seasons one-point defeat at Pairc Lachtain.
The other Walsh Cup semi-final sees Galway – who made their introduction to competitive hurling in Leinster a winning one last Sunday, make the long trip down south-east to face Wexford in New Ross.
Kilkenny scorers – Richie Hogan 2-2, Michael Grace 1-3, Michael Rice and Aidan Fogarty 1-1, Paddy Hogan 1-0, Richie Power 0-2 (frees ), John Dalton 0-1 (free ), John Mulhall and Paul Murphy 0-1 each.
Team: David Herity (Dunnamaggin ), Canice Hickey (Dunnamaggin ), Brian Hogan (O’Loughlin Gaels ), Jackie Tyrrell (James Stephens ), John Dalton (Carrickshock ) John Tennyson (Carrickshock ) JJ Delaney (Fenians ), Tommy Walsh (Tullaroan ), Damian Fogarty (Erin’s Own ). Michael Rice (Carrickshock ), Pat Hartley (Tullogher-Rosbercon ), Richie Hogan (Danesfort ), Michael Grace (Rower-Inistioge ), Richie Power (Carrickshock ), Aidan Fogarty (Emeralds ).
Substitutes: Paddy Hogan (Danesfort ), Kieran Joyce (Rower-Inistioge ), John Mulhall (St Martin’s ), Paul Murphy (Danesfort ), Eddie Brennan (Graigue-Ballycallan ).
Referee: James Owens, (Wexford ).