Smooth sailing in store for Cody's Cats
Michael Mulvihill fancies league champions Kilkenny to make a winning start
Dublin v Kilkenny
Parnell Park, 2pm Sunday
Kilkenny kick off their Championship campaign with a trip to Parnell Park to face Pat Gilroy’s Dublin side and Brian Cody’s young team will be full of confidence following their successful spring which ended in Division 1 glory.
Kilkenny were slow to start in the league as they waited on some of their more established players and the return of TJ Reid in round three got them going.
They have won six on the bounce since then including a shock win over Tipperary in the league final, and while they were led by Reid and Walter Walsh up front, the introduction of Richie Leahy and Martin Keoghan among others has been key to their progress.
While Richie Hogan hasn’t returned in time, Ger Aylward is back in the starting line-up after missing out on the final, while Colin Fennelly returns to take his place on the bench. While Cody’s side had a league to remember, when supposedly in transition, Dublin finished at the other end of the scale.
The introduction of Gilroy and coach Anthony Cunningham looked promising from a Dublin perspective, but they have failed to improve from that opening loss to Offaly in Croke Park.
Since then, they have beaten only Antrim and Laois, and looked well off the pace against Limerick and Galway.
While Dublin were floundering during the league however, some of their key players were contesting at the top level, with three of their starting 15 for this game winning an All-Ireland Club title with Cuala.
Cian O’Callaghan, Jake Malone and Club Hurler of the Year Sean Moran take their place and while they will bring a winning mentality, this may not be enough to take on a Kilkenny side looking to lay down a marker for the year ahead.
Kilkenny took their time to get going in the league but Brian Cody looks to have brought through some high-quality young talent and he’ll be using this as a chance to prepare his side for bigger clashes further down the line.
Although Dublin will be sure to put up a bigger fight than they did throughout the league, expect Kilkenny to easily overcome this challenge.
2pts 11-10 Boyles
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