KILKENNY might have been given a tough challenge from Offaly in Tullamore on Sunday, but they had no trouble finding scores.
Grabbing goals may have proven elusive for Brian Cody’s side at O’Connor Park, but picking off points was another matter.
Kilkenny helped themselves to an impressive 26 points as they began their quest to regain the Leinster senior hurling championship in a baking-hot Tullamore.
Better yet, the winners had 11 different players on the scoreboard, a tally which included all six starting forwards and two members of the half-back line!
The sharp-eyed Cats regularly raised the white flag from all angles. Of their final tally they hit 14 from play, with another dozen coming from frees.
Top scorer on the day was Eoin Larkin, who helped himself to 11 points.
The James Stephens man nabebd all his scores from placed balls, hitting 10 frees and one 65 in a near-flawless performance.
Of his haul Larkin registered eight points in the first half, a period when Kilkenny not only had to battle Offaly but did so into the face of a troublesome breeze.
Larkin’s accuracy from frees was a big part in Kilkenny’s victory, even against the wind in the first half.
“The breeze was blowing straight into my face during the first half,” he said.
“That adds a challenge, but it’s a little easier to hit frees when the wind is blowing like that rather than from side to side.”
Larkin had the advantage of the breeze behind him in the second half. So too did his colleagues, who seemed content to nick off points rather than go for goal.
“You have to keep the scoreboard ticking over,” he said. “I don’t think we went any length of time without scoring, so we were happy enough to keep tacking on points and keep going.”
Sunday’s game was the second time in three championship matches that Kilkenny have failed to score a goal. The first was the drawn All-Ireland final with Galway on September 9 (0-19 to 2-13).
Before that game they had rattled the net in 21 games over six years, the last blank coming in the All-Ireland semi-final aginst Wexford in 2007 (0-23 to 1-10).