Leinster SHC: last-gasp Blanchfield breaks Dublin's hearts

May 13, 2018

Dublin's Rian McBride with Walter Walsh of Kilkenny.
©INPHO/Donall Farmer.

Liam Blanchfield's 71st-minute goal proved decisive as Kilkenny inflicted a cruel 1-24 to 3-16 defeat on Dublin at Parnell Park.

The Black & Amber were playing catch-up all the way as goals from Paul Ryan, Fergal Whitely and Jake Malone helped the Dubs keep their noses in front until Blanchfield finally handed the visitors the lead 60 seconds into stoppage time.

The hosts started the game with real intent and those three-pointers from Ryan and Whitely gave them a four-point interval cushion, 2-7 to 0-9. Pat Gilroy's charges made a perfect start when Ryan raided in behind a non-existent Cats defence to plunder the opening goal in the third minute following good work by Liam Rushe - 1-0 to 0-1, with goalkeeper Eoin Murphy having opened the scoring from a monster free.

TJ Reid and Ryan traded frees and a Reid '65' cancelled out Ryan's second converted free after Aaron Nolan executed an exceptional stop to deny Ger Aylward a Black & Amber major.

Ryan brought his and Dublin's tally to 1-4 with another free in the 19th minute and Conal Keaney's clever finish left the goal between the teams, 1-4 to 0-4, before that man Ryan (free) replied to a Kilkenny effort from midfielder James Maher. Keaney's second stretched the gap to four but Brian Cody's charges hit back with points from Reid (free), Murphy (free) and Walter Walsh to ease within the minimum with two minute left before the interval, 1-6 to 0-8.

A minute from the break, Whitely groundstroked the rebound to the net after Murphy had dealt brilliantly with Keaney's initial effort. An exchange between Reid (free) and Ryan brought a close to the first half, with the Dubs four clear and on course for a famous victory.

Incredibly, nine minutes into the second half, Dublin pounced for their third goal, the prostrate Malone prodding the sliothar over the line to give his side a five-point advantage, 3-9 to 0-13. Reid ('65') and Ryan (free) had traded blows before Keaney made it a five-point game but Kilkenny rallied with three unanswered points from John Donnelly, Maher and Walsh prior to Malone's intervention.

When Reid replied to Malone's major, substitute Paul Winters fired a Dubs brace to propel the hosts into a six-point lead with 50 minutes played, 3-11 to 0-14. Kilkenny looked to be in real bother…

Reid and Joey Holden closed the gap to four but Dubs sub Tomas Connolly - brother of Diarmuid - quickly got in on the action with a lovely score to keep the cushion out at five. Reid (free) and substitute Colin Fennelly had the Noresiders potentially within a single score with twelve minutes remaining.

But Dublin refused to yield and 35-year-old Keaney registered his fourth point from play before Fiontan McGibb made it 3-14 to 0-18 with eleven minutes remaining. The superb Keaney hobbled out of the action in what was a definite turning point and Reid closed the gap on the hour when he took his point on the turn. But the hosts really had the bit between their teeth and Chris Crummey replied with an inspirational strike. Despite Reid's next free, Dublin still led by four with seven minutes to go.

Big-hitting goalkeeper Murphy thumped over his third and Fennelly's second had just two in it on 68 minutes. Apparently a two-point lead is a dangerous one and so it proved as Murphy planted another free, then substitute Blanchfield powered through the heart of the Dublin defence from the left on 71 minutes and batted to the net as Kilkenny hit the lead for the second time - 1-23 to 3-15.

Winters halved the deficit but Kilkenny had done a Kilkenny and weren't going to lose from there. The Cats host Offaly next weekend, while Dublin will be away to Wexford.

Kilkenny - E Murphy (0-4, 3f); J Holden, P Walsh, P Deegan; C Delaney, C Buckley, E Morrissey; R Leahy, J Maher (0-2); M Keoghan, TJ Reid (0-12, 9f, 2'65), J Donnelly (0-1); B Sheehan, W Walsh (0-2), G Aylward. Subs: C Fennelly (0-3) for B Sheehan, C Fogarty for M Keoghan, P Murphy for E Morrissey, L Blanchfield (1-0) for R Leahy, L Scanlon for G Aylward.

Dublin - A Nolan; P Smyth, C O'Callaghan, B O'Carroll; S Moran, C Crummey (0-1), E O'Donnell; S Barrett; J Malone (1-0); R McBride, D Sutcliffe, C Keaney (0-4); F Whitely (1-0), L Rushe, P Ryan (1-6, 0-5f). Subs: F MacGib for D Sutcliffe, P Winters (0-3, 2f) for P Ryan, P MacGib (0-1) for F Whitely, T Connolly (0-1) for R McBride, R O'Dwyer for C Keaney, S Durkin for J Malone.

Referee - D Kirwan.



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