Dublin and Kilkenny travel to Portlaoise on Saturday evening to attempt to book their place in this year’s Leinster Final against Galway in the 8th of July. When the 2 sides met last year in the provincial decider it was one way traffic with the cats putting 4 goals past the dubs and ended up with 14 points to spare at full time.
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Dublin have made huge strides in the last number of years to improve the hurling within the county and bring them up to a level where they are no longer a team that is not worried about but a team that is feared.
Anthony Daly has been at the helm of this Dublin revival and has made astronomical progress with his side since taking over. Dublin are now one of Leinster’s big guns in hurling and this really is make or break for them. They didn’t have a good league campaign and were relegated without winning a single game but that will not be on the mind of Daly or indeed Kilkenny manager Brian Cody. Dublin are boosted by the return to the side of long-term injury victims Conal Keaney, Stephen Hiney and Tomás Brady which will boost their confidence no end.
Kilkenny who have not lost a Leinster championship since 2004, are looking for that unbeaten run to continue but are aware that Dublin will put it up to them. Ten time All-Star forward Henry Shefflin who starts his 56th straight championship match is looking forward to the challenge “I think it’s going to be a magnificent match, I think it’s going to be a great game and I’m really looking forward to it.”
Kilkenny have been aware that they would more than likely to meet Dublin on the way to the Leinster Final and know what they are capable of having been on the wrong side of a heavy defeat in last year’s league final which was Dublin’s first since 1939. Cats manager Cody told the Irish Examiner “We had a good league, got to the final and won it as it turned out but very definitely we’d have been aware at all times that we were probably going to face Dublin in this Leinster semi-final and it was always going to be a huge battle for us.”
Throw in at O’Moore Park Portlaoise is certainly one not to be missed, this will be championship hurling at its best and whoever comes through will look certain to be favourites to life the title.
Kilkenny: D Herity; P Murphy, JJ Delaney, J Tyrrell; T Walsh, B Hogan, R Doyle; C Buckley, P Hogan; H Shefflin, TJ Reid, E Larkin; C Fennelly, R Power, R Hogan.
Dublin: G Maguire; N Corcoran, P Kelly, T Brady; S Hiney, J Boland, M Carton; J McCaffrey, S Durkin; C Keaney, D Sutcliffe, L Rushe; P Ryan, R O’Dwyer, C McCormack.