Kilkenny continued their 100% start to the Walsh Cup on Sunday afternoon as they got the better of Laois in Rathdowney.
With defeats of Offaly and Laois secured in the opening two rounds, the Cats know that they will advance to the decider if they avoid defeat to Wexford on Saturday evening (Live on KCLR).
It was the hosts who started the stronger of the two sides with a string of trademark long-distance frees from Enda Rowland and some fine shooting from corner forward PJ Scully deservedly giving Laois an early 0-05 to 0-02 lead.
Billy Drennan got Kilkenny off the mark after six minutes and they managed to get themselves within two points of their opponents midway through a competitive opening period thanks to points from Paul Cody, Niall Brennan and Cian Kenny.
The momentum had swung in favour of the visitors as the first half continued with a goal from Drennan adding to four frees from the Galmoy clubman, and well-taken scores from Walter Walsh and John Donnelly moved them into the lead for the first time with five minutes of normal time left, Laois 0-10 to 1-11 Kilkenny.
To their credit, Willie Maher’s side refused to wilt and were level once more as Martin Phelan and Aaron Dunphy pointed before Ross King grabbed a goal when he pounced on a rebound from Kilkenny goalkeeper Darren Brennan.
However, another Drennan goal and scores from Brennan, Donnelly and Walsh gave Derek Lyng’s men a 2-16 to 1-14 lead at half-time.
The home side, cheered on by a large crowd in Rathdowney GAA Grounds, needed to find a way to halt their opponent’s dominance if they were to get back into the game.
However, it was Kilkenny who completely took control of what became a one-sided affair as Clara’s Paul Cody added three points to his individual tally and Drennan and Walsh continued to prove efficient in front of goal as Laois’ deficit increased to nine points as the game entered the final quarter, Laois 1-16 to 2-22 Kilkenny.
The home support, boisterous throughout the majority of the first half when their team performed admirably, became mute as the game wore on with the men in black and amber cruising to victory.
Gearoid Dunne’s introduction brought with it a third goal for Kilkenny and two points from his fellow substitute Alan Murphy and a point from close to the sideline by the impressive Walter Walsh highlighted the ruthlessness attached to this performance.
Laois replied with a late goal, but Kilkenny remained clinical as ever when the seemingly endless number of opportunities fell their way as they comfortably sealed the win in a high-scoring tie.
The Leinster champions travel to Chadwicks Wexford Park on Saturday for their last group game in the pre-season competition.
Throw-in is 6pm with build-up to the highly anticipated encounter beginning on KCLR from 5.30pm.
KCLR is the only place where you can hear full live commentaries of all of Kilkenny’s Walsh Cup, Allianz National Hurling League, Leinster championship and All-Ireland series games in 2023.