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Cats tear Offaly to shreds

IN future, Offaly children will be naughty at their peril because the county's parents now have a seriously scary horror movie in their armourment.



Leinster SHC semi-final

IN YEARS to come little Offaly children will be naughty at their peril because the county's parents now have a seriously scary horror movie in their armourment.

One warning will be all that it takes: "Cut that out immediately or I'll make you watch the 2005 Leinster hurling semi-final again!"

After watching their team beaten by an unmerciful 31 points, a lot of the county's adults already found their stomachs and loyalty severely tested by this historic disemboweling and it's hard not to imagine that Leinster Council officials were feeling similarly queasy.

You need a crowd of 30,000 to break even in Croker these days. Just 23,346 ignored the soothsayers so Leinster not only lost money but surely hearts and minds. How can any one cling on to the last vestiges of their hurling hope and devotion when they suffer an annihilation like this?

And what have we learned?

You have to go back to 1943 to find Offaly conceding six goals to Kilkenny in Leinster. That's 62 years! Surely all the hours of voluntary work and investment of 62 years has made more progress than this?

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Or is it simply that we are lucky enough to be witnessing one of the greatest hurling teams in history?

Only time will tell but Offaly certainly suffered the backlash yesterday to Mick Jacob's late scene-stealer last year.

Everything that John McIntyre and Offaly dreaded happened. Afterwards McIntyre described Kilkenny as 'driven men' and, like the second half of the NHL final, they proved that.

The goals flashed in so effortlessly they hardly bear recounting.

Two inside the first five minutes from Martin Comerford and Henry Shefflin.

Before the half was out DJ Carey and Richie Power had both added one apiece with similar presence. Tommy Walsh tortured in defence and attack.

Debutant Power was, literally, in nappies when DJ started this journey; the generational consistency is truly awesome but depressing if you're try ing to beat them.

By half-time, Kilkenny led 4-12 to 0-11. Shefflin had already racked up 1-8, including a penalty that he deliberately pointed. Three men - Barry Teehan, David Franks and Kevin Brady had already tried, in vain, to hold him.

Offaly actually didn't do badly for the first 22 minutes with just the goals making the difference (3-6 to 0-9) and Kilkenny's defence looked far from imperious.

Damien Murray shot seven frees from eight attempts by the break and was withdrawn surprisingly early after it.

Colm Cassidy battled hard, as did the Hanniffys and Brian Carroll. Murray got their first shot on goal just before half-time but James McGarry was alert and waiting.

But within minutes of the restart it looked like a practice match between U-16s and seniors.

Offaly did not score for 23 minutes while DJ and Power could be hauled ashore to rapturous applause.

McIntyre resisted the crass temptation to throw Brian Whelehan in to try and save this mess and he was right.

Offaly's next generation will have to find its own leaders and days like this will aid that painful birth.

And what did Brian Cody learn? He'll have noted 12 frees conceded by half-time; second-half defence was irrelevant.

He'll have seen young Eoin McCormack glisten with a beautifully 'doubled' goal and noted his scramble to set up Shefflin's second with four minutes left.

He saw Michael Kavanagh, who'd walk on to any team in the country, came off the bench and produce one sublime block.

And it will probably be the last time this summer that Cody will sit down on a sideline; even in training.

SCORERS - H Shefflin 2-11 (4f, 1 pen), M Comerford 1-3, R Power 0-5, DJ Carey 1-2, R Power and E McCormack 1-1, D Lyng 0-2, C Phelan and R Mullally 0-1 each, B Barry 0-1 (65). Offaly: D Murray 0-7 (7f), B Carroll 0-3 (1f), G Hanniffy 0-2, R Hanniffy, D Hayden and C Parlon 0-1 each.

KILKENNY - J McGarry 8; J Ryall 8, N Hickey 9, J Tyrrell 7; R Mullally 8, P Barry (Capt) 8, JJ Delaney 7; B Barry 7, D Lyng 8; M Comerford 9, E Larkin 7, T Walsh 9; R Power 9, DJ Carey 8, H Shefflin 9. Subs: C Phelan 8 for Lyng (50 mins), J Hoyne 7 for Carey (53), E McCormack 9 for Power (56), M Kavanagh 8 for Mullally (56), H Tennyson for Hickey (63). Yellow Cards: J Ryall (22 mins), N Hickey (44), P Barry (61).

OFFALY - B Mullins 7; B Teehan (Capt) 5, G Oakley 6, D Franks 5; D Hoctor 5, K Brady 6, C Cassidy 7; M Cordial 7, B Murphy 5; G Hanniffy 7, R Hanniffy 6, D Hayden 6; B Carroll 7, J Brady 5, D Murray 7. Subs: P Cleary 7 for Teehan (19 mins), S Brown 6 for Franks (h-t), A Hanrahan 6 for Murray (47), C Parlon 6 for Hayden (57), P Molloy 6 for Cordial (54). Yellow Cards: G Hanniffy (23 mins), J Brady (44 mins).

REF - M Haverty (Galway).

Attendance - 23,346.

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