IN a demolition that evoked painful memories of the summer of 2005, reigning All-Ireland and recently crowned NHL champions Kilkenny annihilated Offaly by a galling twenty-six points in a challenge game on Sunday evening to mark the official opening of Clara GAA Club’s impressive new facilities.
On Sunday, June 12, seven years ago at GAA headquarters, Offaly endured a thirty-one points, 1-15 to 6-28, Leinster SHC semi-final at the hands of the ruthless ‘Cats’ and on this occasion the score-line was remarkably similar.
And the nature of the loss has to be a huge concern for Offaly boss Ollie Baker ahead of going toe-to-toe with Liam Dunne’s Wexford on Saturday week, June 2 at O’Connor Park in the Leinster quarter-final. Tullamore should be buzzing that particular evening as the curtain raiser sees Teddy McCarthy’s Laois square up to Anthony Daly’s Dublin.
Kilkenny don’t play very many challenge games and a fine attendance gathered in Pairc Phroinsias to see the aristocrats of the ancient game in the flesh.
And while there was no Henry Shefflin or the injured Michael Fennelly, Richie Power, Michael Rice and JJ Delaney, the visitors certainly didn’t disappoint and they produced a scoring tour-de-force.
David Herity, Jackie Tyrrell, Noel Hickey, Brian Hogan, Colin Fennelly, Matthew Ruth, Cillian Buckley and John Mulhall played no part either and this gives you some indication of the depth of resources at Cody’s disposal.
The contrast in styles between the sides was stark, particularly in defence. Offaly persisted with short passing, often taking the sliotar into contact before attempting to off-load a hand-pass to a supposedly better placed colleague and then a delivery or clearance would be unleashed.
Unfortunately, for whatever reason, Offaly weren’t tuned in and too many passes were spilled or misdirected and Kilkenny punished every indiscretion quite mercilessly.
Indeed, Kilkenny had 1-11 on the scoreboard before they hit the first of their seven wides in the 27th minute through Aidan Fogarty.
Offaly’s finishing was absolutely desperate and they’d seven of their eighteen wides tallied by this stage and if they aren’t more clinical on June 2 then they could be staring another sickening defeat against Wexford in the face.
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