Dublin the latest side to pay the price for not finishing off Kilkenny

Eoin Cody’s late goal seals thrilling win for the never-say-die Cats in Leinster SHC game at Parnell Park

Leinster SHC: Dublin 2-23 Kilkenny 1-28

Eoin Cody’s late goal at Parnell Park added to the legend that whenever one thinks they have broken the will and heart of the Kilkenny hurlers, it turns out there are simply not enough stakes.

When Brian Hayes rifled home Dublin’s second goal of the evening in the 55th minute, it sparked genuine belief among the majority of the 7,028 in attendance that the home side were poised to record only a third championship victory over the Cats since 1942.

That goal put Dublin ahead for the first time in the contest, leaving them three points to the good, and with all the momentum in what was a raucous Leinster senior hurling championship encounter. Kilkenny were there for the taking.

However, it would be 11 minutes before Dublin scored again. Indeed, the Dubs managed to add just three further points from the moment of that goal until the final whistle, with Kilkenny scoring 1-5 coming down the straight to snatch victory and move to the top of the table.


Cody netted the pivotal goal in the 70th minute, at a stage when the sides were level, and during the three minutes of injury-time the only score was a Donal Burke free for Dublin.

It was a nervy and unconvincing display by Kilkenny, who entered the game on the back of a draw with Carlow last weekend, and in the second half alone TJ Reid uncharacteristically sent three long-distance frees wide and dropped another short. But in the end, they got the job done.

“We know we can be better and we’re going to have to get better,” admitted Kilkenny manager Derek Lyng afterwards.

“Look, we weren’t right last weekend and I take full responsibility for that. There was only one way we were going to come out of it and that was to come out fighting. But doing it today is not enough, we have to do it next week and we have to drive on now.”

The result all but creates two Leinster semi-finals next weekend when Kilkenny host Wexford and Dublin travel to Galway.

The Cats showed incredible character, calmness, resilience and no little belligerence in the last quarter on Saturday evening. While all around them Parnell Park was trying to roar the Dubs towards a famous win, Kilkenny simply hurled their way out of a pickle.

John Donnelly stood out as their on-field general. The Thomastown man was outstanding, especially during crunch stages of the match, and he finished with 0-7 from play. Donnelly scored two of the three points immediately after the goal by Hayes to see Kilkenny claw back level.

“He was fantastic,” continued Lyng. “He’s just really efficient and some of the points he scored, they were big ones.

“Look, big players step up and John is one of those. He was everywhere and he was popping up on the breaks and connected on those really well. It was a good day for him.”

The sides were level on a total of nine occasions over the course of a relentless encounter.

The last occasion was when Cody peeled away in the final minute of normal time and raced in from an acute angle, cleverly batting the ball off the ground and just inside the far post of Seán Brennan’s goal, 1-28 to 2-22.

There would be no way back for Dublin.

“We probably just needed to tag on a score at that stage [after the second goal] just to cement where we were in the game,” said Dublin manager Micheál Donoghue.

“I can’t fault the lads for their effort, they were savage, we just dust ourselves down now, recover and go again.”

Worryingly, they may have to face Galway without Cian O’Sullivan as he was forced off with a hamstring injury.

The game started at breakneck speed with both sides firing efforts with nearly every attacking play and after just 15 minutes of play there had been 23 shots on goal, with 15 scores and eight wides.

Brennan pulled off a stunning save from Martin Keoghan early on, though the play was subsequently called back for a free which Reid popped over from close range.

Midway through the opening half it was Eoin Murphy’s turn to demonstrate his short-saving abilities as the Kilkenny goalkeeper made a brilliant diving stop on a Ronan Hayes effort.

A long-distance effort by David Blanchfield edged Kilkenny four in front approaching the interval, but a rapid break by Dublin in the 35th minute ended with Conor Burke playing a neat one-two with Séan Currie before the former drilled the ball beyond Murphy in the Kilkenny goal, 0-15 to 1-11.

Donnelly and Donal Burke traded points in injury time but despite the Cats jogging in leading 0-16 to 1-12, it was the Dublin fans bringing all the noise and energy as they roared their team off the pitch, sensing the goal might have altered the momentum of the contest.

And in many ways it did, because Dublin played with a bit more swagger in the early stages of the second half. Kilkenny looked shaky.

Ronan Hayes dragged a glorious goal chance wide after three quarters of an hour when the side were level but when his brother Brian Hayes made no such mistake 10 minutes later, there was a feeling around Parnell Park that the upset was on.

But you don’t beat Kilkenny in the 55th minute of any game. With their season starting to hang in the balance, Kilkenny found a way. As only Kilkenny can.

DUBLIN: Seán Brennan; John Bellew, Eoghan O’Donnell, Paddy Smyth; Paddy Doyle, Conor Donohoe, Chris Crummey (0-3); Brian Hayes (1-0), Conor Burke (1-1); Danny Sutcliffe (0-3), Donal Burke (0-14, 10f, 1 65), Fergal Whitley; Seán Currie, Cian O’Sullivan (0-2), Ronan Hayes. Subs: Paul Crummey for O’Sullivan (inj, 44 mins); Darragh Power for Whitley (49); Daire Gray for Doyle (63); Jake Malone for S Currie (65); Dara Purcell for R Hayes (69).

KILKENNY: Eoin Murphy; Tommy Walsh, Huw Lawlor, Mikey Butler; David Blanchfield (0-3), Paddy Deegan, Mikey Carey (0-1); Shane Murphy, Cian Kenny (0-2); Tom Phelan, TJ Reid (0-8, 7f), John Donnelly (0-7); Martin Keoghan (0-3), Eoin Cody (1-3), Owen Wall. Subs: Billy Ryan (0-1) for Wall (h-t); Richie Reid for S Murphy (42 mins); Conor Fogarty for Phelan (59); Cillian Buckley for Carey (69).

Referee: Johnny Murphy (Limerick).

Gordon Manning

Gordon Manning

Gordon Manning is a sports journalist, specialising in Gaelic games, with The Irish Times