Richie Hogan announced his Kilkenny return with a haul of 1-3 from play as Brian Cody's men thrashed 14-man Carlow by 21 points at Netwatch Cullen Park yesterday.
This was no test for the Cats who had already registered five unanswered points before Carlow's right half-back Michael Malone received a straight red card for a rash tackle on Kilkenny's Hugh Lawlor. The sending off appeared harsh.
Still fielding without their All-Ireland-winning Ballyhale Shamrocks contingent as well as a number of other established players, Kilkenny were never tested by Colm Bonnar's men before an attendance of 3,000.
Alan Murphy (free), Ger Aylward, Billy Sheehan, Murphy again from a free and his brother, goalkeeper Eoin, hit the early string of Kilkenny points before Carlow opened their account with a Marty Kavanagh pointed free on 11 minutes.
Kilkenny's reply was emphatic as the impressive James Maher immediately found the Carlow net.
Cody's charges continued to pick off their scores with ease and by half-time the game was all but decided as they led 1-12 to 0-5, all Carlow's scores coming from the stick of Kavanagh (four from frees). There was no let-up in the Kilkenny domination in the second half.
In the 43rd minute Ger Aylward scooped the sliotar to the Carlow net, and on 54 minutes half-time substitute Niall Brassil set up Hogan for a cracking goal. Kilkenny now led by 3-15 to 0-7.
Carlow tried their best but were totally outclassed and could only muster four points from play while the Cats notched 3-12 of their tally out of open play.
Walter Walsh was denied a goal by a brilliant save from Carlow goalie Damien Jordan but it was one of the few bright spots in a game where Bonnar's side found out how difficult life can be when taking on the big fish of the game.
Nine Kilkenny players shared in their huge total - the only downside for the winners being an injury to Niall Brassil late on.
Ciarán Wallace, Kilkenny's right corner-back played the extra man to perfection and cleared a lot of ball while Paddy Deegan, James Maher, Bill Sheehan, Ger Aylward and Richie Hogan had impressive outings.
Kavanagh led the way for Carlow while Alan Corcoran and Chris Nolan were others to make an impact.
Scorers - Kilkenny: A Murphy 0-8 (8f); R Hogan 1-3; J Maher 1-2; G Aylward 1-1; N Brassil, W Walsh 0-2 each, E Murphy (f), B Sheehan, A Nolan 0-1 each. Carlow: M Kavanagh 0-6 (5f); C Nolan, T Joyce, E Byrne 0-1 each.
Kilkenny - E Murphy 7; C Wallace 7, H Lawlor 7, C Delaney 7; M Cody 7, P Deegan 7, M Carey 5; M Keoghan 6, A Murphy 8; B Ryan 6, W Walsh 7, J Maher 8; B Sheehan, 8 R Hogan 9, G Aylward 8. Subs: N Brassil 7 for Keoghan (ht); C Fogarty 6 for Carey (ht); A Nolan 6 for Aylward (inj, 46); T Kenny 6 for Cody (51); T O'Dwyer for Ryan (61).
Carlow - D Jordan 6; R Smithers 5, P Doyle 5, M Doyle 5, M Malone, D English 6, A Corcoran 6; S Whelan 5, R Coady 5; J M Nolan 6, M Kavanagh 7, J Nolan 5, J Doyle 5, C Nolan 6. Subs: D Byrne 6 for Corcoran (40); A Amond 5 for Whelan (49); T Joyce 5 for P Coady (52); E Byrne for N Nolan (56); C Treacy for C Nolan (65).
Ref - C McAllister (Cork).