Kelly steers Cats past spirited Offaly challenge
Kilkenny 0-24 Offaly 2-13
Kilkenny survived a scare in Tullamore on Saturday before eventually coming good in the second half to dispose of a spirited Offaly side.
The Cats move on to a Leinster final clash with Dublin, who they defeated in the group stages.
Offaly made light of their underdogs tag in the opening half as they built a two-point interval lead.
Kilkenny showed their class in the second half with Conor Kelly leading the way from frees and Ciaran Brennan also contributing handsomely.
For Offaly, it is progress also as they came into the semi-final from tier two of the championship and really put it up to the Leinster favourites.
The first half was a terrific contest with Offaly, boosted by a Ciaran Teehan goal, taking a 1-10 to 0-11 half-time lead as Kilkenny hung on to their tails.
Cathal Kiely swung over a superb sideline ball and centre-back Dara Maher landed two points from long range as the home support dared to dream as Offaly powered on in the second quarter.
The break helped Kilkenny and they came back out in dominant mood with three early scores to put them in control.
Kilkenny began to dominate the Offaly puckout as their half-back line stood up to be counted.
A scrappy DJ McLoughlin goal kept Offaly within touching distance but Kilkenny continued to add scores with ease, with Cian Kenny, Eoin Guilfoyle and Jack Doyle adding late scores to seal the win.
Scorers - Kilkenny: C Kelly 0-12 (10fs), C Brennan 0-5, E Guilfoyle, C Kenny 0-2 each, D Maher, G Murphy, J Doyle 0-1 each. Offaly: C Kiely 0-6 (4fs, 1 s-l), C Teehan, DJ McLoughlin 1-1 each, C Donoghue, D Maher 0-2 each, C Sampson 0-1f.
Kilkenny - J Brennan; J Young, P Dempsey, J Harkin; P Moylan, S Staunton, H Walsh; C Kelly, C Rudkins; D Maher, C Brennan, C Kenny; E Guilfoyle, G Murphy, J Buggy. Subs: C O'Leary for Moylan (HT), J Doyle for Buggy (45), C Korff for Rudkins (55), K Hogan for Murphy (59)
Offaly - S Loughnane; A Brazil, A Flanagan, L Nolan; B Egan, D Maher, L Egan; E Houlihan, A Walsh; C Kiely, C Sampson, C Donoghue; C Teehan, DJ McLoughlin, D Flanagan. Subs: S Mulrooney for Nolan (43), M Dillon for Walsh (48), J Screeney for Donoghue (59)
Ref - C Mooney (Dublin)