The Cats were in savage mood and they all but gobbled up Offaly in the Leinster senior hurling championship at Nowlan Park on Saturday evening.
In the end Brian Cody’s marauding men won by 5-32 to 1-18 to win the ticket into the semi-final against Galway, which will be played on the weekend after next.
This was a strong opening to the championship by the National League champions, who encountered a tough time against the same opposition 12 months ago before stumbling to a less than impressive victory. There were no ‘ifs, buts or maybes’ this time.
Kilkenny were full of intent from the off.
“Galway is all that matters now,” said pleased Kilkenny manager, Brian Cody afterwards. “That will be a tough, tough challenge.”
The home side simply ripped into action. Offaly opened with a five man attack. Corner-forward, Kevin Connolly was employed as an extra defender between the half and full-back lines. Kilkenny kept their regular shape, and their free defender, Paul Murphy simply mopped up easy possession.
Up front the likes of Eoin Larkin, Colin Fennelly, T.J. Reid and Walter Walsh snappy up virtually every chance that came their way. By the end of the quarter the Cats were well and truly on their way when leading by 1-9 to 0-3. Murphy had even joined in the scoring.
Reid was in devastating form, and some of his stick work was magical. By half-time the early goal from Eoin Larkin was boosted by one from Colin Fennelly as Kilkenny built up a match winning lead. The divide was 2-22 to 0-6.
Eight players contributed to the scoring, with the deadly Eoin Larkin the leader with 1-5.
Offaly rose the first flag of the second half with a point from Joe Bergin. Within seconds Michael Fennelly tested superb goalie, James Dempsey, who turned a bullet-like shot over the bar.
Dempsey was defiant throughout, and but for his brilliance, the losers might have conceded an avalanche of goals. Five minutes later Dempsey pulled off a super save from T.J. Reid.
Eventually the pressure told. Mark Kelly grabbed goals for Kilkenny in the 41st and 48th minute to up the divide to 4-24 to 0-10.
The date with Galway was confirmed.
There was one concern for Kilkenny. T.J. Reid picked up a knee injury and had to be carried from the field. Cody
expressed concern afterwards, but he didn’t know the extend of the injury.
Scorers: Kilkenny – E. Larkin (2-5); C. Fennelly (1-5); T.J.Reid (0-6, two frees); M. Kelly (2-0); W. Walsh (0-4); R. Hogan, M. Fennelly, A. Fogarty (0-3 each); L. Ryan (0-2); P. Murphy (0-1). Offaly – B. Carroll (1-10, seven points frees); R. Hanniffy, C. Parlon, C. Mahon, S. Ryan, J. Bergin, D. Currams, S. Dooley, S. Quirke (0-1 each).