Offaly make Kilkenny sweat but Cats pull away at the finish

Kevin Martin's charges battle hard again but strong finishing Kilkenny had a bit too much in reserve

John Knox

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John Knox

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Offaly Hurling

Offaly's Allianz Hurling League fixture released

Leinster Senior Hurling Championship Round Robin Rd 2

Kilkenny 2-19 Offaly 1-13

Offaly gave Kilkenny a real scare on Sunday but in the end the Cats managed to pull away to secure a second win in Game 2 in the Leinster Senior Hurling Championship Round Robin Series at Nowlan Park today.

It was the second time in two weeks Kevin Martin's side had battled strongly against one of the elite sides in the country and it will surely be a further confidence boost to the side with crunch games against Wexford and Dublin to come.

Eight minutes from the end of normal time, Offaly were a mere three points behind (1-16 to 1-13) after Joe Bergin goaled against the run of play and then Shane Dooley and Oisin Kelly added quick points.

The pressure was on Kilkenny but that was as close as Offaly got as they didn't add to their total for the rest of the game while Kilkenny added another 1-3 to secure, what on the scoreboard at least, a comfortable win.

A point from the impressive and hard working John Donnelly was followed by a goal from Liam Blanchfield, made by Donnelly, and suddenly the home side was back on track and ahead by 2-17 to 1-13. Colin Fennelly and Martin Keoghan rounded off the scoring for Kilkenny.

There was a good shape about Offaly and by playing some intelligent, direct hurling they made Kilkenny look ordinary during a lot of the first half. During the first quarter the scores were level at 0-1 and then 0-3 each.

The Noresiders took the lead for the first time in the 16th minute when John Donnelly scored after receiving a nicely placed clearance from Conor Delaney. The head of steam was building up. T.J. Reid and Pat Camon traded points before Luke Scanlon and Joe Bergin did likewise. Then on 24 minutes Kilkenny scored a goal. John Donnelly created the opening and T.J. Reid rifled the ball home from 20 metres on the right (1-6 to 0-5).

A quick point from Luke Scanlon suddenly had Kilkenny double scores clear, which was against the run of play given Offaly's earlier defiance. The home side pushed on, and at half time they led by 1-10 to 0-7.

Kilkenny looked more assured after the turn and after 51 minutes they were moving really well when 1-16 to 0-10 in front. However Offaly showed their newfound resolve and scored 1-3 without reply, but the Cats recovered well and finished strongly.

Despite now suffering back to back defeats to Galway and Kilkenny, Offaly are showing real signs of improvement this year and they will go into their games with Wexford and Dublin with a renewed level of confidence. 

Offaly face Wexford next Saturday evening in Bord na Mona O'Connor Park and there is sure to be a large Offaly crowd in attendance to cheer on the team.

SCORERS: Kilkenny - T.J. Reid (1-5); L. Blanchfield (1-2); L. Scanlon (0-4); M. Keoghan, J. Donnelly, C. Fennelly (0-2 each); R. Leahy, E. Murphy (0-1 each). Offaly - J. Bergin (1-3); S. Dooley (0-5); S. Kinsella (0-2); P. Camon, C. Egan, O. Kelly (0-1 each).
Kilkenny - E. Murphy; J. Holden, P. Walsh, P. Deegan; C. Delaney, C. Buckley, P. Murphy; C. Fogarty, L. Ryan; M. Keoghan, T.J. Reid, R. Leahy; J. Donnelly, L. Blanchfield, L. Scanlon. Subs - C. Fennelly for Fogarty; C. Browne for Ryan; G. Aylward for Scanlon; C. O'Shea for Leahy.
Offaly - E. Cahill; T. Spain, D. Shortt, B. Conneely; D. Egan, P. Camon, David O'Toole Greene; D. King, S. Kinsella; J. Bergin, P. Murphy, O. Kelly; D. Currams, C. Egan, S. Dooley. Subs - C. Mahon for P. Murphy 29th min; P. Delaney for t. Spain; R. Hughes for Currams; S. Ryan for Egan; t. Geraghty for Kinsella.
Referee - J. Owens (Wexford).