Pre-match thoughts: Kilkenny v. Dublin
Updated: Nov 5, 2020
Friday, 30 October 2020, 18.30
The most striking thing about the Kilkenny team is the mix of proven, seasoned veterans
and with a batch of players who have a few years' experience but could be seen as a bit unproven. The backs are short on proven top-level defenders and Cody won't be able to afford them much time on the learning curve. Dublin could look at the back line, including the placement of Cillian Buckley at midfield, and take some confidence from the fact that they are new and will be finding their feet. If things aren't going to plan, it's likely that Buckley would be shifted back to shore up the half-back line, but, if it comes to that, Kilkenny will probably already be in a tight match. Richie Reid at wing-back is an will be very interesting, if he can bring his club form to the county side (which is far from a given), he'll be a real boon for this new-look unit.
From midfield up, Kilkenny look strong in familiar ways, but there is the potential that the dependence on TJ Reid and Colin Fennelly proves too narrow a base, should one of them be neutralised.
Image: Danny Sutcliffe against Kilkenny.
At the time of writing, Dublin have yet to name a team. They looked decent last week against Laois, but it's hard to gauge them based on that. Donal Burke looked excellent, while Danny Sutcliffe and Chris Crummey gave their forward line an overall look of variety. Moreover, Liam Rushe is an excellent sub and, if things are going their way, he'll be champing at the bit to come in and unsettle Kilkenny further.
Prediction: Kilkenny should have enough to get over the line but Dublin will come in warmer after last week's match. The round-robin format in recent years has anecdotally shown that the team with the match under their belt tends to start more quickly. It's a tricky match to call given that many of Kilkenny's better players, especially in the forwards, have a lot of miles in their legs, and they can't go on forever relying on Reid and Fennelly to do the bulk of the damage. If I was a betting man, I'd have to pick Kilkenny, but they shouldn't be too confident.
Kilkenny: Eoin Murphy; Conor Delaney, Huw Lawlor, Ciaran Wallace; Padraig Walsh, Paddy Deegan, Richie Reid; Cillian Buckley, Conor Fogarty; John Donnelly, TJ Reid, Walter Walsh; Billy Ryan, Colin Fennelly, Eoin Cody.
Subs: Darren Brennan, Paul Murphy, Joey Holden, Tommy Walsh, Conor Browne, Alan Murphy, Richie Leahy, Martin Keoghan, Richie Hogan, Ger Aylward, Liam Blanchfield.
Dublin (from previous match, vs. Laois): Alan Nolan; Paddy Smyth, Eoghan O'Donnell, James Madden; Conor Burke, Daire Gray, Cian O'Callaghan; Sean Moran, Riain McBride; Cian Boland, Donal Burke, Danny Sutcliffe; Chris Crummey, Ronan Hayes, Davy Keogh.