A Blathnaid Galwey goal was the difference as the Kilkenny minor team continued on their winning run with a good result over a brave Offaly side in Larchfield on Saturday.
In a low scoring first half played in tough weather conditions, it was the Faithful County who began the game the brighter with two quick points. Roisin Egan opened the scoring with a third minute free, Grace Teehan following this up with well-taken point in the fourth minute.
There was a barren period in the game after this with the weather deteriorating further, while both defences remained on top
Kilkenny, who had the aid of a strong breeze in the first half, opened their account through Sophie O’Dwyer’s 13th minute free from forty metres. Cliona Murphy continued Kilkenny’s good run when she got in for the Cats’ first goal in the 20th minute. Latching on to a Sophie O’Dwyer 45 that dropped short Murphy brilliantly flicked the sliotar to the net from the edge of the small square to put Kilkenny 1-1 to 0-2 points ahead.
Shiofra Ryan pulled a point back for Offaly, but Sophie O’Dwyer put Kilkenny two to the good again when she tapped over a free in the 23rd minute.
Offaly’s response was almost instantaneous. Sarah Harding got in for an Offaly goal when she gathered Shiofra Ryan’s pass and blasted the sliotar to the net, shooting her side into a 1-3 to 1-2 lead after 24 minutes.
Sophie O’Dwyer responded for Kilkenny, converting a 28th minute free after Ciara Phelan was fouled to level the tie but an Aisling Brennan free was enough to give Offaly the lead at the break (1-4 to 1-3).
Kilkenny began the second half well, firing over two quick points. A Sophie O’Dwyer free drew her side level before Ella Moore edged the Cats ahead with a well-taken point.
Back came Offaly. Roisin Egan levelled the tie at 1-5 apiece - Offaly were getting more and more into the tie, and took a stranglehold on the middle third, but they were guilty of hitting too many wides.
Aisling Brennan broke the deadlock when she pointed for Offaly, edging her side into a 1-6 to 1-5 lead in the 53rd minute. Kilkenny responded brilliantly, picking off 1-1 without reply.
Blathnaid Galwey started the run when she got in for Kilkenny’s second goal in the 54th minute, gathering a Sophie O’Dwyer free that dropped short before brilliantly hand-passing the sliotar to the net (2-5 to 1-6).
Sophie O’Dwyer ensured victory for the Cats when she tapped over a 21 metre free in injury-time to see Kilkenny home on a 2-6 to 1-6 scoreline.
A victory for Kilkenny away to Dublin next weekend in their final group game will ensure they finish second behind Tipperary and secure an All Ireland semi-final spot.
SCORERS: Kilkenny - Sophie O’Dwyer (0-5, frees); Cliona Murphy, Blathnaid Galwey (1-0 each); Ella Moore (0-1). Offaly - Sarah Harding (1-0); Roisin Egan (0-2, 0-1 free); Aisling Brennan (0-2, 0-1 free, 0-1 45); Grace Teehan, Shiofra Ryan (0-1 each).
Kilkenny - Aoife Norris, Aideen O’Connor, Hannah Scott, Ciara O’Shea, Michelle Doherty, Ella Moore, Aobha O’Gorman, Mairead Kennedy, Niamh Deely, Sophie O’Dwyer, Blathnaid Galwey, Helen Hoynes, Aisling Morrissey, Ciara Phelan, Cliona Murphy. Subs: Aoife Walsh, Tara Clifford, Roisin Phelan, Caoimhe O’Shea, Amy Morrissey, Eimear Dolan, Michelle Teehan, Kate Drennan, Nicole Garvey, Hannah Irish, Aoife Holden, Eadoin Murphy, Nessa Galwey, Aoife O’Carroll, Mia Griffin.
Offaly - Alanna McHugh, Aoibhe Whelahan, Megan King, Una Kilmartin, Orla Gorman, Aisling Brennan, Ciara Brennan, Sarah Walsh, Grace Teehan, Aideen Freeman, Roisin Egan, Aoife McLoughlin, Dara Hanamy, Sarah Harding, Shiofra Ryan. Subs: Niamh Killeen, Leah Gath, Orlaith Plunkett, Louise Savage, Alanna Roddy, Sarah Guinan, Doireann Errity, Sarah Dooley, Elizabeth Harding.
Referee - Jenny Byrne (Dublin).