A BAD WEEK for Kilkenny football ended on a lower note after the seniors were humbled by a rampant Fermanagh in the National Football League on Sunday.
With the scars still fresh from a midweek 50-point loss to Louth in the Leinster under-21 championship, the Ulster senior side showed no mercy as they chalked up a 46-point league victory in Freshford.
In truth, Kilkenny were on a hiding to nothing before the game even threw-in at Freshford on Sunday lunch-time. Pointless after two outings, the Cats were coming up against the table-toppers, a side who had the momentum of new coach Peter Canavan behind them.
Although the former All-Ireland and All-Star footballer was quiet on the sideline, his side were roaring with confidence. It took them just two minutes to find the net, full-forward Seamus Quigley tapping a low ball across the square for James Sherry to apply the finish.
Backed by a decent-sized travelling support - who far outnumbered the locals - Fermanagh didn’t waste time in adding to their lead. Although Stephen Duggan converted a seventh minute free for Kilkenny the score was quickly wiped out by a fisted Quigley goal on 12 minutes, followed by points from Niall McGovern, Quigley (free) and Paul Ward (free) to leave the Ulster men 10 clear after the first quarter (2-5 to 0-1).
Kilkenny were desperately trying to find a way into the game, but were shut down by strong performances from Michael Jones and Daniel Kille, who ran at the hosts and pegged them back time and again. Worse was to follow, as three goals in seven minutes left Fermanagh with a sizeable lead - and Kilkenny with a real mountain to climb. Brian Cox, Michael Jones and Paul Ward notched up a goal each in successive attacks between the 20th and 27th minutes as Fermanagh went for the jugular.
A Graham Lawlor free - Kilkenny’s first score in almost 24 minutes - was but a speed-bump as the Ulstermen set about putting the game out of reach by half-time. Seamus Quigley helped himself to three points, a run broken only his second goal of the game on 33 minutes, an impressive strike which crept inside the far post. At half-time Kilkenny trailed by 25 points (6-9 to 0-2), but their day wasn’t about to get any better.
Although the spoils were well secured by then, Fermanagh kept on the attack in the new half. A game that had long stopped being a contest got worse for the hosts as they leaked a further 1-5 inside 13 minutes, Quigley shooting three points around a 1-1 haul for sub Ryan Keenan. Quigley ended his day with 2-12, while further goals from Keenan and Declan McCusker piled on the misery before the final whistle.
The points safely in the bag, Fermanagh continue on a journey that seems certain to end in promotion. The real question for Kilkenny football, is what next?
SCORERS: Fermanagh - Seamus Quigley (2-12, 0-4 frees); Ryan Keenan (2-1); James Sherry, Brian Cox, Declan McCusker (1-1 each); Paul Ward (1-1, 0-1 free); Michael Jones (1-0); Daniel Kille (0-3); Mark Little, Niall McGovern, Ryan Jones (0-1 each). Kilkenny - Stephen Duggan (0-3, frees); Graham Lawlor (0-1, free).
Kilkenny - D. Garvey, R. O’Hara, J.J. Grace, D. Grennan, D. Fitzpatrick, M. Malone, S. Duggan, B. Byrne, K. Bergin, J. Fennelly, R. Shore, C. Foley, J. Dollard, P. Donnelly, G. Lawlor. Subs: G. Smith for Garvey, 36 mins; K. O’Brien for Grace, 36 mins; J. Culleton for Foley, 36 mins; B. Kehoe for Lawlor, 46 mins; P. McBride for Fennelly, 61 mins.
Fermanagh - C. Breen, N. McGovern, B. Owens, M. Jones, D. Kelly, S. Lyons, B. Cox, E. Donnelly, J. Sherry, M. Little, R. Jones, E. Maguire, D. Kille, S. Quigley, P. Ward. Subs: N. McElroy for Lyons, 34 mins; D. McCusker for Maguire, 36 mins; P. Cosgrove for Donnelly, 36 mins; R. Keenan for Ward, 36 mins; M. McGrath for Sherry, 58 mins.
Referee: M. Rock (Clare).