Monday 20 August 2018

Kilkenny make it two from two in Leinster but fail to impress against Offaly

Kilkenny 2-19 Offaly 1-13

20 May 2018; Liam Blanchfield of Kilkenny shoots to score his side's second goal as Dermott Shortt of Offaly closes in during the Leinster GAA Hurling Senior Championship Round 2 match between Kilkenny and Offaly at Nowlan Park in Kilkenny. Photo by Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile
20 May 2018; Liam Blanchfield of Kilkenny shoots to score his side's second goal as Dermott Shortt of Offaly closes in during the Leinster GAA Hurling Senior Championship Round 2 match between Kilkenny and Offaly at Nowlan Park in Kilkenny. Photo by Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile

Michael Verney

Kilkenny made it two wins from two in the Leinster SHC but Brian Cody's men were far from impressive Brian Cody's as they eventually got the better of Offaly by nine points.

Newcomer Luke Scanlon stole the show with four first-half points and it looked like they were coasting to victory before a Conor Mahon goal helped Kevin Martin's side back within three points of the League champions.

Liam Blanchfield responded with a goal for the Cats to put the game to bed but they will need to up the ante before next Sunday's eagerly-anticipated clash with All-Ireland champions Galway while Offaly host Wexford in O'Connor Park the previous evening with no win to their name after two games.

Shane Kinsella was on the mark inside 15 seconds for Offaly as Kilkenny spurned a number of opportunities to settle into their stride before Blanchfied, a late replacement for Walter Walsh, pointed after making a superb fetch.

Joe Bergin and Colin Egan were on target at the other end as Blanchfield spurned a glorious goal chance but debutant Scanlon, Eoin Murphy (long-range free), John Donnelly and TJ Reid (free) reeled off four in a row to send the Cats into a 0-5 to 0-3 lead midway through the half.

Offaly centre-back Pat Camon and Scanlon traded scores before Bergin got his second of the day but Reid, who had been quiet up until then, drifted into space and took a pass from Donnelly before firing to the net past Eoghan Cahill.

James Stephens attacker Scanlon was having a field day and fired over his third before Shane Dooley hit two frees but the Faithful were now struggling for traction up front. Scanlon pointed again as Reid hit a brace to leave them six up at the break, 1-10 to 0-7.

Reid continued where he left off firing over a free to open the new half while Richie Leahy quickly added his first. The sole Offaly response was a Bergin point as the Cats kicked on through Martin Keoghan and a place ball from Reid, 1-14 to 0-8.

Dooley (free) and Kinsella provided brief respite with a point apiece before Blanchfield, who would spurn another decent goal opportunity after being played in by Scanlon soon after, and substitute Colin Fennelly were on target.

It looked like a formality that Kilkenny would pull away thereafter but Dooley pointed before turning creator with an overhead handpass into the danger area and first-half sub Mahon flicked it to the net.

The comeback looked on when Dooley (free) and Oisín Kelly cut the gap to three, 1-16 to 1-13 in the 62nd minute, but Cody's men sensed danger and Donnelly responded before Blanchfield finally hit the net for Kilkenny after Donnelly put him through on goal.

That took the sting out of Offaly's challenge and they failed to score score after Kelly's point with Fennelly and Keoghan pointing to see them home by nine.

KILKENNY – E Murphy; J Holden, P Walsh, P Deegan; C Delaney, C Buckley, P Murphy; C Fogarty, L Ryan; M Keoghan, TJ Reid, R Leahy; J Donnelly, L Blanchfield, L Scanlon.

Subs: C Fennelly for Fogarty (41), C Browne for Ryan (52), G Aylward for Scanlon (54), C O'Shea for Leahy (70)

OFFALY – E Cahill; T Spain, D Shortt, B Conneely; D Egan, P Camon, D O'Toole; D King, S Kinsella; O Kelly, C Egan, P Murphy; D Currams, J Bergin, S Dooley.

Subs: C Mahon for Murphy (30), P Delaney for Spain and R Hughes for Currams (both half-time), S Ryan for C Egan (58), T Geraghty for Kinsella (68)

REF – J Owens ((Wexford)

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