Before 23, 346 at Croke Park, Kilkenny showed their firm intent on regaining the Leinster SHC with a cakewalk 31-point victory (6-28 to 0-15) over a gallant Offaly team. Wexford now stand in the way of Kilkenny and the Leinster title.
Offaly kept in touch with the Cats in terms of possession up until the half-time break at which Kilkenny led by 4-12 to 0-11. It was those four goals which were making the difference and the fact that the Kilkenny attack were certainly making Offaly pay for any mistakes.
Offaly opened the scoring through Rory Hanniffy with less than a minute on the clock but when Martin Comerford goaled for the Cats less than two minutes later it gave them a boost and when Henry Shefflin popped up for another in the fifth minute it put Kilkenny into a 2-1 to 0-2 lead, a lead they would not surrender for the remainder of the game.
The teams were even for the next ten minutes of the game swopping points at regular intervals. At this stage just four points separated the sides when Dylan Hayden shot his first and Offaly’s sixth on 14 minutes.
Then Henry Shefflin shot a point bringing his tally to 1-3 and a third goal for the Cats put pay to any Offaly advance after Richie Power, a former All-Ireland Minor winning Captain with Kilkenny launched a great run through and continued to penetrate the Offaly defence and finished blasting the ball to the net.
Three points in a row from Damien Murray frees to cut the gap to six points but Kilkenny shot the next four points including one from a Henry Shefflin penalty after Richie Power was fouled and with a fourth goal before half time from DJ Carey after a Shefflin cross put 13 points between the sides with Murray and Shefflin traded points before the break.
The second half was all one way traffic with Kilkenny shooting points from all angles, indeed they shot 1-11 without reply, the goal coming from Eoin McCormack. Cathal Parlon’s 23rd minute point was Offaly’s first of the second half.
Kilkenny whitewashed Offaly near the end with a sixth goal after a fumble by Brian Mullins and Henry Shefflin blasted past Offaly full back Ger Oakley who had come back to help to man the Offaly goalmouth. Offaly consigned to a qualifier group with Waterford, Clare and Dublin while Kilkenny go on in search of another Leinster title.
Kilkenny: James McGarry; James Ryall, Noel Hickey, Jackie Tyrell; Richie Mullally (0-01), Peter Barry, JJ Delaney; Brian Barry (0-01, 65), Derek Lyng (0-02); Martin Comerford (1-03), Eoin Larkin, Tommy Walsh (0-05); Richie Power (1-01), DJ Carey (1-02), Henry Shefflin (2-11, 0-1 pen, 0-4 frees)
Subs: Conor Phelan (0-01) for Derek Lyng (49 mins), John Hoyne for DJ Carey (52 mins), Michael Kavanagh for Richie Mullally, Eoin McCormack (1-1) for Richie Power (both 54 mins); John Tennyson for Noel Hickey (62 mins).
Offaly: Brian Mullins; Barry Teehan, Ger Oakley, David Franks; Daniel Hoctor, Kevin Brady, Colm Cassidy; Michael Cordial, Brendan Murphy; Gary Hanniffy (0-2), Rory Hanniffy (0-1), Dylan Hayden (0-1); Brian Carroll (0-2), Joe Brady; Damien Murray (0-8, all frees).
Subs: Paul Cleary for Barry Teehan (18 mins), Stephen Brown for David Franks (HT), Aidan Hanrahan for Damien Murray (46 mins), Paul Molloy for Michael Cordial (53 mins), Cathal Parlon (0-1) for Dylan Hayden (55 mins).
Referee: Michael Haverty (Galway).