Kilkenny’s football woes continued at Ballyragget when the county minor side was comprehensively beaten by a well focussed Offaly XV in a preliminary round of the Leinster championship.
As was the case with the county under-21 side earlier in the year in the Leinster championship against Louth, and the senior team in the Allianz League, Kilkenny were simply out of their depth.
Within 90 seconds of the start Offaly were four points to the good, 1-1 to 0-0. Their goal came from corner-forward Richie Reynolds who finished the game with three goals to his credit.
Kilkenny goalie Aaron Doherty prevented a second Offaly goal when he brought off a good save from Richie Reynolds before a fine Kilkenny move out of defence ended with full-forward, Michael Kenny blasting the ball to the Offaly net. The home side was back into the game.
Unfortunately for the locals, that was as good as things were to get for them. The midlanders proceeded to tear their young opponents apart.
Goals followed from Johnny Kavanagh and Peter Cunningham, plus a plethora of minor scores from their excellent centre-forward, Joe Maher, who notched a total of 13 points (nine from play) to leave Offaly side out of sight at the interval when leading by 3-16 to 1-0.
Although safely through, Offaly showed no mercy in the second half. Additional goals from full-forward Shane Lawless, who scored three, and two from Richie Reynolds secured a facile 51 points victory for the midland side.
Offaly will have learned nothing from this win, while another humiliating defeat like this will certainly not have done anything for the game in Kilkenny. Credit must be given to the players and officials who continually battle against the tide in an effort to keep the game going in a hurling mad county but, until such time as the county’s best footballers at all levels make themselves available for selection it is always going to be an uphill struggle.
In mitigation it should be said that all but three of this year’s panel are eligible again next year, while a number of them have two years left at minor level.
Scorers: Offaly - Joe Maher (0-13, four frees); Peter Cunningham (1-8, four points frees); Shane Lawless (3-0); Richie Reynolds (3-0); Johnny Kavanagh (1-4, point free); Conor McNamee (0-2); Ciaran Cahill, Niall Dempsey, Mark Kirwan (0-1 each). Kilkenny - Michael Kenny (1-0).
Offaly - Conor Clancy, Araon O’Connell, Jordan Quinn, Darragh Corbett, Eoin Carroll, Luke Kelly, Brian Grehan, Ciaran Cahilll, Conor McNamee, Peter Cunningham, Joe Maher, Mark Kirwan, Johnny Kavanagh, Shane Lawless, Richie Reynolds.
Subs - Niall Dempsey for M. Kirwan; Sean Moriarty for A. O’Connell; Robert McNamee for J. Kavanagh.
Kilkenny - Aaron Doherty, Barry Hennessey, Darren Knox, Thomas Carroll, Jason Byrne, Eoin Brennan, James Tyrrell, Padraig Farrell, Cormac Fleming, David Kinsella, Mark Alyward, James Callanan, Paul Coss, Michael Kenny, Ronan Moriarty. Subs - Aaron O’Neill for D. Kinsella; Chris Buggy for B. Hennessey; Eoin Curtis for J. Callinan; Eoin Purcell for P. Farrell; James Rafter for A. Doherty.
Referee – Brendan Cawley (Kildare).