Cats maul Offaly in Clara stroll

Kilkenny 6-26 Offaly 1-15

Kilkenny 6-26 Offaly 1-15

IT WAS a challenge that turned into a stroll from very early on as All-Ireland and National Hurling League champions, Kilkenny, crushed Offaly in this exhibition game to mark the official opening of Clara’s (Offaly) new gorunds yesterday evening, writes John Knox.

Offaly, who play Wexford in the championship in O’Connor Park, Tullamore, on Saturday week, could have done without a pasting like this so soon before the big day in Leinster, but Kilkenny simply couldn’t help themselves.

Manager Brian Cody was without a raft of players, including Henry Shefflin, Michael Rice, Brian Hogan, Richie Power and so on, but the selection cobbled together after a busy weekend of club action simply rolled on and cut down the opposition. Four points were shared equally between T.J. Reid and Conor Fogarty on one side and Joe Bergin and Sean Ryan on the other during the opening 10 minutes.

Tomas Breen, who showed a fair touch and finished as top scorer with 2-4, clipped over a nice point to put Kilkenny in front in the 12th minute and they never looked back. John Tennyson, who was sampling his first piece of inter-county action since the All-Ireland final of 2010, arrowed over another point shortly afterwards and already Offaly were on the slide.

When Aidan Fogarty, who returned after a wrist injury, shot his first score after 20 minutes the Kilkenny lead went to 0-9 to 0-3. Minutes later Breen finished to the Offaly net after Eoin Larkin, as casual as you like, sliced open the home defence when raiding on the right (1-10 to 0-4).

By the break goals were added by Tomas Breen (28th minute) and T.J. Reid (30th minute) to leave Offaly a well beaten team when 0-6 to 3-13 down at half way.

For the second half Kilkenny introduced a batch of subs, including Brian Kennedy, Joe Brennan, Walter Walsh and Joe Lyng. Their efficiency and lovely touch never varied.

In fact, Brennan (2) and Walter Walsh (1) got among the goals and Padraig Walsh scored five points in his second match in two days as the Cats won at their ease without every going beyond second gear.

Scorers: Kileknny - Tomas Breen (2-4); Joe Brennan (2-0); T.J. Reid (1-3, one point free); Padraig Walsh (0-5); Aidan Fogaty (0-5, one free); Walter Walsh (1-1); Ger Aylward (0-3); John Tennyson, Conor Fogarty, R. Hogan, Martin Walsh (0-1 each); Paddy Hogan (0-1, free). Offaly - Brian Carroll (0-5); Shane Dooley (0-4, one free); Joe Bergin (0-4); Sean Ryan (1-1); Conor Mahon (0-1).

Kilkenny - Eoin Murphy, Tommy Walsh, Kieran Joyce, Richie Doyle, John Tennyson, Paul Murphy, Lester Ryan, Conor Fogarty, Paddy Hogan, Eoin Larkin, T.J. Reid, Padraig Walsh, Tomas Breen, Richie Hogan, Aidan Fogarty. Subs - Brian Kennedy for R. Hogan; Joe Brennan for E. Larkin; Walter Walsh for T. Walsh; Joe Lyng for T.J. Reid; Ger Aylward for P. Walsh; Martin Walsh for R. Doyle.

Offaly - James Dempsey, James Rigney, David Kenny, David Franks, Barry Harding, Paul Cleary, Derek Markham, Kevin Brady, Conor Hernan, Cathal Parlon, Brian Carroll, Brendan Murphy, Thomas Carroll, Joe Bergin, Sean Ryan. Subs - Joe Dooley for T. Carroll; Conor Mahon.

Referee - Brian Gavin.