Clinical Cats edge out the Faithful
Kilkenny 1-20 Offaly 3-11
Kilkenny advanced to the Walsh Cup final after a hard-fought outing in Tullamore yesterday. Offaly put up a stern test and were in the game right until the death but the Cats' showed greater guile in front of the posts to get over the line.
With Richie Reid and Alan Murphy in free-scoring form, Brian Cody's charges were deserving winners of a game that entertained a sizeable crown in Bord Na Móna O'Connor Park.
Cillian Buckley, Joey Holden, Conor Fogarty and Padraig Walsh all started in the Kilkenny defence.
Offaly were the better side in the opening half but a fortuitous goal from Ger Malone four minutes before half-time gave Kilkenny a lift as they went in only trailing by a point at the interval - 1-10 to 1-9.
Conor Mahon found the net for Offaly in the sixth minute and they led by 1-8 to 0-5 at one stage before Kilkenny found their feet. Kilkenny put in a strong opening to the second chapter, firing the first four points of the half to take a 1-13 to 1-10 lead.
Offaly struck back with a penalty from Shane Dooley to level the game but Murphy and Richie Reid were able to tag on points to keep Kilkenny afloat.
With the game there in the melting pot, Kilkenny took the impetus in the closing 25 minutes, limiting Offaly to just two more scores.
Shane Kinsella did find the net for the home side with eight minutes to go to leave it a one-point game but Kilkenny finished the stronger with two points from Alan Murphy, brother of goalkeeper Eoin, seeing them over the line.
A Walsh Cup final against either Dublin or Wexford awaits next Sunday,.
Scorers - Offaly: S Kinsella 1-3; S Dooley 1-1 (1-0 pen, 0-1f); C Mahon 1-0; E Cahill 0-3f; T Geraghty 0-2; L Langton, O'Kelly (f) 0-1 each. Kilkenny: A Murphy 0-7 (6f); R Leahy, R Reid 0-4 each; G Malone 1-0; J Donnelly 0-2; J Walsh, B Sheehan, C Martin 0-1 each.
Offaly: E Cahill; T Spain, D Shortt, B Conneely; P Delaney, P Camon, J Quinn; D King, T Geraghty; O Kelly, S Kinsella, C Egan; C Gath, C Mahon, L Langton. Subs: S Dooley for Egan (HT), D Doughan for Shortt (51), C Cleary for Gath (54) C Molloy for Geraghty (58), P Rigney for Delaney (64),C Egan for Mahon (67, blood).
Kilkenny: E Murphy; J Holden, R Lennon, P Deegan; C Fogarty, C Buckley, P Walsh; G Malone, C O'Shea; J Donnelly, R Reid, R Leahy; B Sheehan, A Murphy, J Walsh. Subs: E Morrissey for Malone (HT), C Martin for J Walsh (HT), C Delaney for Lennon (49), P Lyng for Leahy (54), M Keoghan for Sheehan (58).
Referee: G McGrath (Dublin).
Sunday Indo Sport