Defending champions, Kilkenny got their 2018 season off to a winning start when they scored a handy win over Laois in the Walsh Cup senior hurling tournament in Portlaoise this evening.
And with a match against Kildare to come in Freshford on Sunday (2pm), the likelihood is that they will sail into the semi-finals at their ease.
This was never a game. Laois were short five regulars, apparently, but against a totally new Kilkenny XV they never showed.
The game was over at half-time when the visitors led by 3-8 to 1-5. After that Laois were hit for six points on the trot before Richie Reid bagged another goal to up the divide to 4-14 to 1-5.
That was it. The tie was turned into a score keeping exercise.
Kilkenny had early points from Alan Murphy (free) and Michael Brennan to help them find their way, but then Laois scored a very well taken goal through Patrick Purcell, after getting to the end of a long free from Eric Killeen.
It was the visitors who had to come from behind to draw level with an Alan Murphy free in the eight minute (1-1 to 0-4). However, when Conor Martin blasted to the net moments later following a lovely lay-off pass from Clara's Chris Bolger, the game swung immediately in Kilkenny's direction.
Their second goal arrived in the 21st minute, and Bolger's name was on it (2-5 to 1-4). Richie Reid, Michael Brennan and Conor Martin all snatched points before Martin placed Reid for the winners third goal, which took them into a commanding interval lead of 3-8 to 1-5.
That was after the visitors shot 10 wides. It was that sort of evening in Portlaoise!
SCORERS: Kilkenny - Conor Martin (1-6, point free); Richie Reid (2-2); Alan Murphy (0-6, five frees); John Donnelly, Sean Morrissey (1-2 each); Chris Bolger (1-0); Michael Brennan (0-3); Ger Malone (0-2); Conor Browne (0-1). Laois - Charles Dwyer (0-3); Patrick Purcell (1-0); Aidan Corby (0-2); Padraig Dealaney (0-2, frees); Ciaran Collier, Ben Conroy, Stephen Dunphy (0-1 each); Cian Taylor (0-1, free);
Kilkenny - Darren Brennan; Paddy Deegan, Robert Lennon, Stephen Staunton; Enda Morrissey, Joe Lyng, Conor Browne; James Maher, Evan Cody; John Donnelly, Richie Reid, Michael Brennan; Alan Murphy, Conor Martin, Chris Bolger. Subs - Ger Malone for C. Bolger; Luke Scanlon for E. Cody; Joey Holden for A. Murphy; Bill Sheehan for J. Maher; Sean Morrissey for E. Morrissey.
Laois - Eoin Fleming; Joseph Phelan, Leigh Bergin, Lee Cleere; Jack Kelly, James Ryan, Eric Killeen; Patrick Purcell, Liam Delaney; Colm Stapleton, Charles Dwyer, Aidan Corby; Padraig Delaney, Enna Lyons, Ciaran Collier. Subs - Donncha Hartnett for J. Phelan; en Conroy for L. Delaney; Cian Taylor for E. Lyons; Patrick McKane for P. Delaney; Conor Phelan fore A. Corby; Stephen Dunphy for E. Killeen; Brian O'Mara for C. Stapleton.
Referee - Justin Heffernan (Wexford).
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