Leinster Senior Hurling Championship Final
Kilkenny 1-25 / Dublin 0-19
By Aaron Dunne
Mattie Kenny’s Dublin senior hurlers will face the winners of Cork and Clare in the All-Ireland quarter-finals after their bid for a first provincial title since 2013 fell apart before it had even started last Saturday evening at Croke Park.
Dublin were struck by a positive Covid-19 case on Friday and the medical team and public health authorities identified three further players as close contacts so in line with protocols, the following players (in alphabetical order) were not involved – Ronan Hayes, Cian O’Callaghan, Oisín O’Rourke and Fergal Whiteley.
Ronan Hayes and Cian O’Callaghan had been selected to start earlier in the week and when Eoghan O’Donnell was forced off after just three minutes Dublin’s resources were stretched to the limit.
The quartet were replaced in the match-day squad by Seán Currie, John Hetherton, Fiontánn MacGibb and Ronán Smith with Currie being introduced to the action as a temporary sub late on.
Despite all those setbacks and being four points in arrears by the sixth minute Dublin battled bravely and were level (0-9 each) approaching the half-time interval before the Cats concluded the opening period with scores from Eoin Cody, James Maher and TJ Reid to go in 0-12 to 0-9 ahead.
Coming up to the second water break Kilkenny began to extend their lead while their subs off the bench made a positive impact overall for Brian Cody’s men as Kilkenny went on to be crowned Leinster senior hurling champions for the 73rd time.
Kenny revealed he only had a few hours to “re-jig” his team after being notified of Covid-19 issues.
“They were deemed close contacts, we got notified by the HSE that our players were close contacts and we lost four guys,” Kenny told RTÉ Sport. “Look it, that’s what our squad is for. We had to re-jig things a little bit but that’s part and parcel of modern-day Ireland, isn’t it?
“We talked to the players this morning and we asked the guys to pull behind us and concentrate on the game.
“Our guys were very brave there, we asked them to be brave and drive on. They were very brave between the two injuries in the first half, and losing the six guys was a massive loss.”
“Our guys did themselves proud, they did Dublin proud. We’ll regroup.”
Eoghan O’Donnell tracks Kilkenny talisman TJ Reid in the early moments of Saturday’s Leinster final before injury forced him off
PHOTOS – SPORTSFILE