Cats kings again in Leinster

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Padraig Walsh turned in another strong performance at centre-forward for Kilkenny. Photo: Eoin Hennessy

Kilkenny maintained their sweep of hurling titles this season when they claimed their third at Croke Park this afternoon, beating defending champions, Dublin, in the Leinster senior final.

The Cats captured what was their 69th Leinster crown, and first since 2011, when scoring a comfortable enough 0-24 to 1-9 victory over the somewhat subdued Dubs.

The latest success was added to the National League and Walsh Cup, which Kilkenny claimed earlier in the season. They have now booked a place in the All-Ireland semi-finals in five weeks time against opponents as yet unknown.

“That was a good showing,” insisted Kilkenny manager, Brian Cody. “From the start of the season we wanted to win the Leinster championship. Now all thoughts turn towards the All-Ireland semi-final.”

Dublin, who employed an extra defender from the off, never led. They conceded early points to a terrific Richie Hogan and John Power, and although Conal Keaney (penalty) and Alan McCrabbe (free) posted replies, the losers soon fell into arrears again and there they stayed to the finish.

Kilkenny took the lead for the second time with a point from a free by T.J. Reid, and that was followed soon after by a minor from Colin Fennelly. The Cats continued to pile up the points, and when they hit half time they were leaders by 0-13 to 1-6.

The Dubs continued to conceded after the turn, when they were hit for scores without reply from Colin Fennelly and the impressive Padraig Walsh at the double before Alan McCrabbe rose a flag in the 41st minute (0-16 to 1-7).

Within a minute sub, Conor McCormack added another point for the Dubs, but from there to the finish they were to score just once more, despite applying considerable pressure.

Kilkenny worked extremely hard all over the park, and smothered the oppositions efforts at every point of the field. Eoin Larkin was massive as a chaser and winner of possession; Richie Hogan was on top of his game, probably the man of the match again; long servers J.J. Delaney and Brian Hogan were wonderful in the heart of the defence, and goalie David Herity, who only got into the team last week when the up to then first choice, Eoin Murphy, picked up an injured turned in a strong showing that has really raised the stakes in the battle for the No. 1 shirt.

Kilkenny went through an unsure patch in mid-half, but after Herity had saved brilliantly from Colm Cronin and Larkin and Conor Fogarty stole possession on the opposition to make a point for T.J. Reid they regained control of things. Nine times All-Ireland medal winner, Henry Shefflin, was sent on in the 55th minute and he helped himself to three points before the finish.

Overall it was a good day for Kilkenny, who continue to build a strong head of steam as they march through the championship.

Scorers: Kilkenny - T.J. Reid (0-10); C. Fennelly. H. Shefflin (0-3 each); P. Walsh, R. Hogan (0-2 each); B. Hogan, J. Power, A. Fogarty, W. Walsh (0-1 each). Dublin - C. Cronin (1-1); A. McCrabbe (0-3); D. Sutcliffe, C. Keaney, D. O’Callaghan, C. McCormack, P. Ryan (0-1 each).

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