Kilkenny have got off to the perfect start in the Electric Ireland Leinster Minor Hurling Championship after a convincing victory away to Laois on Saturday afternoon.
While it was the hosts who started stronger than the men in black and amber, goals from Dicksboro duo Mikey Stynes and Brian Moore and a late goal from Ed Lauhoff helped the Cats secure a deserved victory in Portlaoise.
Eoghan Murphy and Justin Duggan were Laois’ only source of scores in the early stages as they alternated free-taking duties but the outcome remained the same when they each slotted over two dead ball situations.
Kilkenny stemmed their opponents flow after the opening ten minutes when Windgap’s Conor Doyle took control of the affair with three successful frees and two excellent points from play.
Midfielder Darragh Vereker and half-forward Greg Kelly added to their teammate’s clinical shooting with points of their own and a goal from Dicksboro’s Mikey Stynes after some fine build-up play left Kilkenny in a comfortable position approaching half-time, Laois 0-04 to 1-07 Kilkenny.
Damian Carter’s charges were offered a lifeline before the interval when Kilkenny half-back Seán Bergin was given a straight red card for striking an opposition player on the helmet.
Accidental or not, Niall Bergin’s team were down to 14-men and another Murphy free along with a first score from play for the hosts from Mark Downey saw them cut into the deficit.
Corner-forward Doyle eased Kilkenny’s concerns with a well-taken free and a third point from play as the first half entered additional time, while Duggan showcased his free-taking abilities to leave the scoreboard reading Laois 0-07 to 1-10 Kilkenny.
James Stephens’ Bill McDermott opened the scoring in the second half with a fine point and a brilliant piece of individual skill from corner-forward Brian Moore allowed him the space and time to find the back of the net with a classy finish to move his side into a 0-07 to 2-11 lead.
Two Justin Duggan frees halted the momentum for Kilkenny and a penalty from Murphy that was slotted past Billy O’Sullivan left five points between the sides as an intense encounter entered its final quarter, Laois 1-09 to 2-11 Kilkenny.
Kilkenny’s talisman and the Man of the Match Doyle responded with a point from play and a free to bring his personal tally to 0-09 and two points from Kelly and a point from Eoghan Cahill pushed the visitors further ahead.
A ’65 from Doyle and a goal from Ed Lauhoff sealed the win for the youngsters.
Next up for Kilkenny is a trip to Abbottstown on Saturday to face Antrim at 2pm.
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