/ GAA

Kilkenny 2-18 Dublin 0-18

Updated: Sunday, 05 Jul 2009 21:28

Dublin's Stephen Hiney attempts to block Derek Lyng of Kilkenny
Dublin's Stephen Hiney attempts to block Derek Lyng of Kilkenny

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Kilkenny's canny knack of scoring goals at crucial times helped them collect another Leinster title at Croke Park this afternoon, as a thoroughly committed Dublin side had to settle for second best.

Winning the Bob O'Keeffe Cup for the ninth time this decade, the Cats had to rely on a two-goal blast from Martin Comerford to see off the pretenders to their crown.

Dublin's seven-man defence kept Henry Shefflin and Eoin Larkin at bay for most of the game, but man-of-the-match Comerford led the way for the All-Ireland champions with 2-04.

While David 'Dotsy' O'Callaghan was heavily marked, free-taker Alan McCrabbe emerged as Dublin’s scoring hero, hitting 0-12 in all.

But it was not enough in the end as Brian Cody's men made it five Leinster titles in a row and progressed through to an All-Ireland semi-final on 9 August.

McCrabbe, who was an injury doubt before the final, struck five placed balls as the Dubs trailed by 1-10 to 0-07 at half-time, with Comerford right-footing to the net on 16 minutes.

Anthony Daly's underdogs wasted some early scoring chances as Kilkenny moved 0-04 to 0-01 ahead courtesy of points from Michael Rice, Eddie Brennan, Shefflin (free) and Derek Lyng.

McCrabbe hit Dublin's opening point and doubled his tally with a well struck free, before a powerful burst through the middle from Liam Ryan teed up David Treacy for a snapshot.

Treacy's effort on the turn flew over the crossbar, when a goal looked on, and Kilkenny showed their clinical edge when two minutes later, Comerford billowed the net at the other end.

Richie Power did the groundwork, squeezing a hand-pass through under pressure from three defenders for Comerford to swoop onto it and tuck it away to the left of goalkeeper Gary Maguire.

A superb catch from Ryan led to a pointed free from McCrabbe but Kilkenny, beginning to get a grip on open play, replied with four successive points, including two from the on-fire Comerford.

Eoin Larkin also burst into life, leaving Dublin captain Stephen Hiney in his wake for two points.

With the bulk of the 29,427-strong crowd behind Daly’s side, McCrabbe got them back on the scoring trail with a free and a ‘65’ and the experienced Kevin Flynn closed the gap back to 1-08 to 0-07 with a expertly-taken score from close to the right sideline.

Dublin almost conceded a second goal, two minutes before the break, when Comerford blasted over the bar from close range after a deft touch from Brennan.

A Shefflin free closed out the first half’s scoring but Dublin roared back at the champions, nudging it back to a three-point game in the early stages of the second half.

Hounding Kilkenny for possession and edging the territorial battle, the Metropolitans notched points through McCrabbe and Treacy, who showed some neat touches when on the ball.

But Dublin were made to work hard for their scores and with Shefflin knocking over a brace of easily-won frees, the Cats still looked in control at 1-13 to 0-12.

O'Callaghan, one of Dublin’s danger men up front, was beginning to find more space on the right-hand side but the former footballer had little or no influence on the scoreboard.

Kilkenny were just doing enough, points from Fogarty and Tommy Walsh, who snaffled possession in midfield and strode forward for an inspirational score, left six points between the sides.

McCrabbe was turning into a one-man scoring machine when he pointed from a tight angle and then sent a beautiful sideline cut through the uprights, in reply to a Lyng effort in front of the Hill.

Treacy sliced the deficit back to four points but then Kilkenny swept through for their second goal in an instance.

Comerford was set free, with Dublin’s defence run ragged, and he flicked the ball over the advancing Maguire for a well-taken goal.

That was the killer blow and although Dublin never let their heads or the level of intensity drop, points were all they could muster.

Kilkenny also missed out on a third goal. Substitute TJ Reid had a first-time shot saved by Maguire at point-blank range and Michael Carton was deemed to have pulled Shefflin back as the ball broke loose.

Shefflin stepped up for the penalty but his shot was well saved by Maguire, whose cameos typified the sheer effort of his outfield players.

Unfortunately for the Dubs, the concession of those earlier goals, the over-reliance on McCrabbe and a lack of shooting accuracy all-round left them ultimately frustrated in their first Leinster SHC decider since 1991.

Boland and O'Callaghan raised late white flags and on the whole, Daly’s men can be content with their overall performance, particularly when many observers had expected Kilkenny to destroy them and show the gulf in class of previous years.

But not many sides will want to face this up-and-coming Dublin outfit in the impending All-Ireland quarter-finals and Kilkenny boss Cody will no doubt use this as a wake-up call for his charges’ push for an All-Ireland four in a row.

Kilkenny: PJ Ryan; M Kavanagh, JJ Delaney, J Tyrrell; T Walsh (0-01), J Tennyson, J Dalton; D Lyng (0-02), M Rice (0-01); H Shefflin (0-06, 6f) (capt), M Comerford (2-04), E Larkin (0-02); E Brennan (0-01), R Power, A Fogarty (0-01).

Subs used: TJ Reid for Power (51 mins), J Fitzpatrick for Brennan (62).

Dublin: G Maguire; N Corcoran, T Brady, O Gough; S Hiney (capt), J Boland (0-01), M Carton; J McCaffrey, A McCrabbe (0-12, 7f, 1 '65', 1sl); S Durkin, L Ryan, K Flynn (0-01); D O'Callaghan (0-01), L Rushe, D Treacy (0-03).

Subs used: S Lambert for Flynn, D Curtin for Durkin (both 50 mins), D Sweeney for Ryan (56), P Carton for Rushe, R O'Carroll for McCrabbe (both 64).

Referee: Johnny Ryan (Tipperary).

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