Liam Blanchfield’s injury time goal stole a win for the League Champions in the Leinster opener this afternoon

Dublin v Kilkenny - Leinster Opener

Dublin 3-16
Kilkenny 1-24

Dublin hurling fans left Parnell Park today both excited and gutted as they watched Pat Gilroy’s Senior Panel take the game to the mighty Kilkenny only to lose out at the death in the Leinster opener. But the manner in which Dublin attacked the game from the throw in was the best we’ve witnessed in a very long time.

The boys in blue were in a five point lead with ten minutes remaining on the clock, but some calculated substitutions and Liam Blanchfield’s stoppage time goal put the Cats ahead and they hung on for the whistle to bag their first points in the newly formatted Leinster Championship.

Kilkenny Keeper Eoin Murphy got the game underway with a massive free, but minutes later when Liam Rushe found himself onside he drove toward the Kilkenny goal and unselfishly squared the ball to Paul Ryan who buried it in the net to give Dublin their first goal.

Ryan and TJ Reid traded scores, Kilkenny relied heavily on frees as Dublin’s defence acted like a huge border wall, Seanie Moran was immense today in the sweeper role, and Eoghan O’Donnell was successfully deployed to man mark Reid.

Walter Walsh beat two Dublin defenders, picked out Ger Aylward who drove the ball low but Alan Nolan’s boot got in the way to save the danger.

Conal Keaney imposed himself on the game today as if he was ten year’s his younger, scoring his first of 0-04 after another Ryan free. James Maher got Kilkenny’s first from play on 26 minutes, proving Dublin’s strength in defence. Keaney and Ryan added more Dublin scores, as did Reid and Murphy.

Kilkenny drew closer to Dublin with Walter Walsh scoring a massive point to close the gap to 0-01 with a few minutes to go in the half. The Cats introduced Colin Fennelly to the game in the hope to broaden their options. But Dublin would get another green flag before the half time whistle.

Conal Keaney, again instrumental made a massive run down the left of the park and struck the ball perfectly, but Eoin Murphy pulled off a huge save. With the ball rebounded into space, Fergal Whitely was quick to pull on the ground and send it crashing into the net. Reid and Ryan finished the session with another score each as Dublin left the field 0-04 in front.

Reid got the opening score from a free in the second half and it was obvious that the intensity was not gonna to dwindle. Ryan got his sixth point and Keaney added another. John Donnelly, James Maher and Walter Walsh all replied, closing the gap to 0-02 again.

Dublin v Kilkenny - Leinster Opener

But Liam Rushe was again to be instrumental in another Dublin goal. Not for the first time, the Pat’s club man twisted and turned the Kilkenny defence and could very well have won a penalty for his team, but he managed to palm the ball away from the Kilkenny defence, and Jake Malone who had hit the ground still managed to push the ball over the line for Dublin’s third.

Paul Winters would replace Ryan and immediately take over scoring duties with one from play and another from a free. TJ Reid and Joey Holden responded and Tomas Connolly entered the fray and immediately scores a point for the Dubs.

Reid and Fennelly add two more for Kilkenny and Keaney and Fiontan McGibb cancel them out. But as Keaney lands awkwardly trying to gather a loose ball he looks to have damaged his shoulder making way for Ryan O’Dwyer to replace him.

With space in front of him TJ Reid has his best chance at goal but decides to send it over with still time to spare. Chris Crummey scores a huge point for Dublin to keep the gap to 0-05, but another Reid score and another huge free converted by keeper Murphy, the gap is 0-03.

That 0-03 almost disappeared when Paul Murphy sent a huge ball in dropping fast, but Alan Nolan mages to get a grip of it as Walter Walsh charges for the Dublin keeper in an attempt to push him over the line, but Nolan literally manages to keep his arm across the line to save the score.

As the game comes to a close Colin Fennelly closes the gap to 0-02, and the referee indicates four minutes of additional time. Time enough for Kilkenny to steal the game from Dublin as Substitute Liam Blanchfield powered towards the Dublin goal, avoids falling from a trip by Paddy Smyth and gets the ball past Nolan to put Kilkenny in the driving seat.

Dublin rallied and Paul Winters managed to get a late score to keep the game alive, but TJ Reid conveniently had the last word securing a 0-02 win for the Cats.

It’s onto Wexford for a vital fixture for Dublin next weekend to keep their Championship hopes alive after almost spoiling Kilkenny’s party today.

Dublin v Kilkenny - Leinster Opener

Scorers for Dublin:
Paul Ryan 1-06 (5f)
Conal Keaney 0-04
Fergal Whitely 1-00
Jake Malone 1-00
Paul Winters 0-03 (2f)
Tomas Connolly 0-01
Fiontan MacGib 0-01
Chris Crummey 0-01

Scorers for Kilkenny:
TJ Reid 0-12 (8f, 2 65)
Eoin Murphy 0-40 (4f)
Liam Blanchfield 1-00
Colin Fennelly 0-03
Walter Walsh 0-02
James Maher 0-02
John Donnelly 0-01

1. Alan Nolan
2. Paddy Smyth
3. Cian O’Callaghan
4. Bill O’Carroll
5. Shane Barrett
6. Sean Moran
7. Chris Crummey
8. Rian McBride
9. Eoghan O’Donnell
10. Jake Malone
11. Conal Keaney
12. Danny Sutcliffe
13. Fergal Whitely
14. Liam Rushe
15. Paul Ryan

Dublin Substitutes:
23. Fiontán McGibb For 12. Danny Sutcliffe (37, blood)
12. Danny Sutcliffe For 23. Fiontán McGibb (38, blood)
25. Paul Winters For 5. Paul Ryan (46)
23. Fiontán McGibb For 13. Fergal Whitely (48)
21. Tomas Connolly For 8. Rian McBride (52)
26. Ryan O’Dwyer For 11. Conal Keaney (59)
19. Shane Durkin For 10. Jake Malone (65)

1. Eoin Murphy
2. Joey Holden
3. Padraig Walsh
4. Paddy Deegan
5. Conor Delaney
6. Cillian Buckley
7. Enda Morrissey
8. Richie Leahy
9. James Maher
10. Martin Keoghan
11. TJ Reid
12. John Donnelly
13. Bill Sheehan
14. Walter Walsh
15. Ger Aylward

Kilkenny Substitutes:
25. Colin Fennelly For 13. Bill Sheehan (32)
22. Conor Fogarty For 10. Martin Keoghan (HT)
18. Paul Murphy  For 7. Enda Morrissey (45)
24. Liam Blanchfield For 8. Richie Leahy (54)
26.Luke Scanlon For 15. Ger Aylward (58)