Derek Lyng’s reign began on a positive note with a victory over Offaly in John Locke Park.
No doubt one for future pub quizzes the first score under the new regime came at the hands of Billy Drennan, as did the second. Offaly’s Cillian Kiely and David Nally kept it at two points apiece. The Cats started taking control after that though, scoring the next four scores until Cillian Kiely grabbed his second of the day to make it a one-score game at 0-06 to 0-03.
The next one for the pub quizzes will be who was the first goalscorer for Derek Lyng? Just like Damien Cleere was Brian Cody’s first goalscorer on December 6th 1998, the 2023 accolade will forever be associated with Glenmores Ian Byrne, in lucky circumstances. Billy Drennan added to the misery of the Faitfull county snatching his fifth of the day immediately after. Bill Shehan made it 1-08 to 0-03 points and it looked as if the tie may be slipping away from Johnny Kelly and his men.
With ten minutes to go in the first half, Offaly snapped into life. Cillian Kiely and a double from David Nally put three points on the board to make the scoreline look more respectable. The scoring charts flipped though with John Donelly and Bill Shehan sticking two over the bar to make it 1-10 to 0-06. Evidently, though, a respectable scoreline is not what Offaly was after, and they stayed battling once again registering three unanswered with Cillian Kiely, Brian Duignan, and David Nally getting the scores.
There was another point a piece for either side before the referee blew the halftime whistle. It was an interesting matchup, with some good and bad from both sides. Kilkenny’s psychical presence was no doubt felt amongst the Offaly panel, who themselves really switched it on in the latter stages of the half.
Half Time Kilkenny 1-11 Offaly 0-10
Offaly got the scoring started in the first half with a free from Cillian Kiely, scoring his seventh of the game and he did not have to wait too long to get his eight. Bursting another free over the bar. It then becomes just a one-point game, another free given away by Kilkenny, and with Cillian Kiely standing over the frees, the score was never in doubt. Niall Brennan stopped the ascendency getting the home side off the mark in the second half before Kiely burst over his eight free of the day.
Then just like that, the game was level. Ross Ravenhill with a point from play got the division 2 team right back in it. Then a point from free that had Billy Drennan standing over it restored the lead for Derek Lyng. Speaking of the manager he started ringing in the changes, with Timmy Clifford, Padraig Walsh and last year’s young player of the year Mikey Butler making it onto the field. The game went into a five-minute lull before Drennan broke the deadlock, once again from a free.
Charlie Mitchell was next on the scoresheet to get Offays 16 points of the game. Alan Murphy got Kilkenny’s 16th point soon after before Brian Duignan got Offaly’s 17th. The game was certainly in the melting pot, with a goal crucial for either side after they both scored one each to make the game 1-17 to 0-18.
The second-half goal we were waiting for came when Tom Phelan of Conahy Shamrocks put it in the back of the net. It was a well-worked goal, with the ball coming in from Paddy Deegan, and ended with a nice finish to make it. The Cats gave another free away with Cillian Kiely putting on a free taken exhibition. Not to be outdone, the Galmoy man Billy Drennan kept his 100% record on frees in the game, despite being a bit quieter from open play in the second half.
David Nally then bagged himself another double to make it a one-score game, and within touching distance with a few minutes to go. Billy Drennan had a chance to truly put the game to bed but managed to miss his first free of the day, marking Kilkenny’s fifth wide. He did not miss his next chance though as on the 38th minute the last point of the game was scored by Billy Drennan.
Laois now awaits Kilkenny in the second round of the Walsh Cup, with the O’Moore County earning a two-point victory against Wexford in their first game in the cup.
Final Score Kilkenny 2-19(25) Offaly GAA 0-21(21)