Defending champions, Kilkenny, did the business and showed some style, but they didn’t really learn much in this Leinster minor hurling championship clash.
Offaly were limited in talent if not effort, and their challenge never amounted to much at Nowlan Park on Saturday.
The result meant Kilkenny qualified for a do-or-die Leinster semi-final on May 14, away to either Dublin in Parnell Park or Laois in Portlaois.
“What can you say but job done,” was the summary from pleased Kilkenny manager, Pat Hoban afterwards.
You win, but....
“It was one of these games you have to win, but we didn’t learn an awful lot about ourselves. That is the bit we have to work on over the next couple of weeks.
“It would be impossible to judge players on that effort. We got into an early lead playing with the wind and never looked.
“Possibly we should have scored more. Their goalie was good. We have as much questions as answers after the game because Offaly didn’t stretch us at all.”
He felt that things looked reasonably promising for Kilkenny. There were good players there and now it was a matter of getting the best out of them and getting the mix within the squad right.
“None of the players need think there is anything nailed down in terms of the make up of the team after this match,” he insisted.
The Cats next outing will be on May 14 in the semi-final against Dublin/Wexford (losers).
In fairness to the winners, they looked to have something decent to work on.
Half backs Darren Mullen and Joe Connolly looked very good; midfielder Edmund Delaney is a man who can make frees count; Sean Bolger looks an elegant hurler while James Bergin and Sean Buggy showed some lovely touches too.
There are a couple of more than useful tall players in attack, like basketball international Colum Prendiville, and the squad could be equipped to hurt opponents in the air. Time will tell!
Offaly never got a chance to get into the game when they opened playing against the wind.
They had a penalty call against them for a foul on Bergin in the second minute. Although Delaney’s well struck effort came back into play off an upright, a point was earned by the same player via a 65.
During the following eight minutes Kilkenny stormed 0-6 to 0-1 clear thanks to additional scores from Delaney (3), the first after James Bergin tested fine ’keeper, Willie Malone, Sean Bolger and Chris Kavanagh.
By the 10th minute young Delaney already had five points in the bag as he punished virtually every foul.
The winners scored a goal in the 22nd minute when Sean Buggy hooked a defender to win possession before sending James Bergin free to score at the City end (1-11 to 0-4).
At half-time the winners led by 1-14 to 0-4.
Offaly had the opening score of the new half through Aaron Maher, but that was answered quickly at the double by Edmund Delaney and James Bergin.
Already it was a case of game over. The margin of the divide was the only thing up for decision despite the determined defiance of such as top goalie, Willie Malone, Aaron Maher, Eoin Wood and Joey Keenaghan.
Kilkenny’s second goal arrived in the 38th minute. A free from midfield by Delaney was fielded nicely on the edge of the square by James Bergin, who off loaded quickly to Sean Buggy, who had a yard of space to get in an unstoppable shot (2-16 to 0-6).
By the time James Bergin added goal No. 3 in the 54th minute (3-23 to 0-11) the contest was well over.
SCORERS: Kilkenny - Edmund Delaney (0-10, five 65s’, three frees); James Bergin (2-3, two points frees); Sean Buggy (1-2); Sean Bolger (0-4); Joe Connolly (0-2, one frees); Chris Kavanagh, John Donnelly, Colum Prendiville, Niall Brassil (0-1 each). Offaly - Eoin Woods (0-5, four frees); Joey Keenaghan (0-4, three frees); Aaron Kenny (1-0); Aaron Maher, Eimhin Kelly, Conor Langton, Dylan Young (0-1 each).
Kilkenny - Liam Dunphy (Lisdowney); Brian Coady (St Martin’s), Tommy Walsh (Tullaroan), Evan Carroll (Dicksboro); Jordan Molloy (O’Loughlin Gaels), Darren Mullen (Ballyhale Shamrocks), Joe Connolly (Clara); Edmund Delaney (Conahy Shamrocks), Chris Kavanagh (Dicksboro); John Donnelly (Thomastown), Colum Prendiville (Graigue-Ballycallan), Shane Mahony (O’Loughlin Gaels); Sean Bolger (O’Loughlin Gaels), James Bergin (Conahy Shamrocks), Sean Buggy (Erin’s Own). Subs - Mark Drennan (Barrow Rangers) for J. Molloy 41st min; Niall Brassil (James Stephens) for S Mahony 41st min; Tom Whitty (Danesfort) for J Donnelly 43rd min; Mossy Keoghan (Tullaroan) for Delaney 43rd min; Victor Costello (Dunnamaggin) for Mullen 49th min.
Offaly - Willie Malone; Stephen Leonard, Ciaran Burke, Fergal Hanamy; Peter Walsh, Barry Kealey, Michael Ryan; David Buckley, Aaron Maher; Joey Keenaghan, Eoghan Callaghan, Michael Cleary; Eimhin Kelly, Conor Langton, Eoin Woods. Subs - Aaron Kenny for M Cleary ht; Cathal Curran for M Ryan 41st min; Dylan Young for Woods 52nd min.
Referee - Brian O’Leary (Wexford).