Kilkenny sweep Offaly aside at Nowlan Park
Cats barely tested by Offaly as they run up a cricket score on Sky Sports’ GAA debut
Kilkenny’s Colin Fennelly leaves Offaly’s James Rigney behind at Nowlan Park. Photograph: Cathal Noonan / Inpho
Kilkenny 5-32 Offaly 1-18
A non-event in Nowlan Park.
Kilkenny didn’t spare the horses at any point and ran out 5-32 to 1-18 winners over a desperate Offaly side. Cue much wisecracking about what Sky Sports have let themselves in for.
Kilkenny took a while to get going but when they did, it got out of hand very quickly. Offaly held their shape well early on and made like they had no intention of lying down. It was encouraging stuff and Brian Carroll even put them into the lead, catching high above Brian Kennedy and flashing two minutes in.
It lasted all of 20 seconds before Eoin Larkin equalised. And when Colin Fennelly pounced on a mistake by James Rigney to put Kilkenny ahead shortly afterwards, it was the start of a tough night for the Offaly corner-back.
Fennelly set-up the next one for Walter Walsh and got fouled for the free that TJ Reid converted for Kilkenny’s fourth point.
Rigney was in trouble and the rest of his team were about to join him. Still, that Reid free only put Kilkenny a point ahead with 10 minutes gone. But it got ugly in a hurry after that as Kilkenny poured it on.
Fennelly was untouchable, Reid not far behind.
Walter Walsh swung over his second of the night from midfield to put them 0-7 to 0-3 ahead, Richie Hogan walked onto the end of a hand-passing move to push the lead out to six a minute later. By the 15th minute, it was all over.
Walsh ran through on goal and drew a fine save from James Dempsey in the Offaly goal but Eoin Larkin tidied up the scraps to make it 1-9 to 0-3.
The lead had gone from one point to nine in the space of five minutes. Offaly’s will evaporated in the early summer sun from there on.
Dempsey and Carroll were the only ones to come out of the night with any credit, the goalkeeper pulling off six point-blank saves and Carroll tipping away as the only threat in the Offaly forward line.
After Colin Fennelly banged home Kilkenny’s second goal on 22 minutes – making it 2-12 to 0-4 at that point, Brian Cody made sure to let nobody think this was all just going to be a tip-around. With Carroll in such good form at corner-forward, he whipped championship debutant Brian Kennedy off before the half-hour.
Kilkenny were winning by 15 points at the time. The message didn’t need to be spelled out.
From there on, the only matter of interest was whether or not the scoreboard operators could keep up.
Kilkenny led by 2-22 to 0-6 at half-time and then came out to bang on a couple of goals inside the opening 15 minutes of the second half. Mark Kelly was the only Kilkenny forward not to score in the first half but he helped himself to a brace after the break. Only for Dempsey, Kilkenny would have pushed the goals tally into double figures.
Kilkenny: E Murphy; P Murphy (0-1), JJ Delaney, B Kennedy; P Walsh, J Tyrrell, C Buckley; L Ryan (0-2), R Hogan (0-3); W Walsh (0-4), M Fennelly (0-3), TJ Reid (0-6, 0-2 frees); Colin Fennelly (1-6), Mark Kelly (2-0), Eoin Larkin (2-4). Subs: Kieran Joyce for Kennedy, 28 mins; T Walsh for C Fennelly, 51 mins; B Hogan for P Walsh, 51 mins; A Fogarty (0-3) for Reid, 57 mins; JJ Farrell for M Fennelly, 61 mins
Offaly: J Dempsey; N Wynne, R Hanniffy (0-1), J Rigney; B Harding, D Morkan, C Parlon (0-1); C Mahon (0-1), S Ryan (0-1); J Bergin (0-1), D Currams (0-1), P Geraghty; K Connolly, S Dooley (0-1), B Carroll (1-10, 0-5 frees). Subs: C McDonald for Rigney, 27 mins; T Geraghty for P Geraghty, half-time; S Quirke (0-1) for Connolly, half-time; G Healion for Harding, 53 mins; CiarÃ¡n Slevin for Bergin, 62 mins
Referee: J Owens (Wexford)