Offaly – 0-08
Kilkenny once again dispatched of a provincial rival in the Littlewoods Ireland Division 1 League as they backed up their opening day win against Dublin with an impressive defeat of a pitiful Offaly side on Saturday.
Kilkenny blew the home side away early in the game with Clara’s Mary O’Connell scoring three points from the first three efforts of the game as they took an early lead. Brian Dowling’s team came close to doubling their lead soon after, but Aoife Doyle hit the post with her attempt at goal.
They didn’t have to wait long for their first goal, however, as Miriam Walsh took advantage of a mistake in the Offaly full-back line to give Kilkenny a 1-04 – 0-00 lead with little more than ten minutes on the clock. Emma Kavanagh got the home side’s first score of the game with a long-range point to reduce the deficit to six points as referee John McDonagh signalled for the first half water break.
2020 Player of the Year Denise Gaule came to the fore as she scored the All-Ireland champions next four points while Grainne Egan (2) and Grainne Dolan points bridged the gap for Offaly. Mary O’Connell finished the half as she started it with her fourth point from play as Kilkenny took a 1-09 – 0-04 lead into half time.
The Kittens moved into an insurmountable lead early in the second half as Denise Gaule and Miriam Walsh got the opening two points of the second period followed by a second Kilkenny goal from Aoife Doyle, 2-11 – 0-04.
Both sides exchanged scores following Doyle’s well taken goal with Gaule and O’Connell getting their seventh and fifth points of the game respectively. Substitute Mairead Teehan and Aisling Brennan scored impressive points from play for the home side as the scoreboard in Birr read 2-13 – 0-06 in favour of Kilkenny.
St. Martin’s forward Katie Nolan volleyed the rebound to the back of the net following a save from Offaly goalkeeper Mairead Jennings to score Kilkenny’s third goal of the game. Further points from Mary O’Connell and Aoife Doyle, both from play, extended the away side’s advantage to nineteen points, 3-16 – 0-06. Siobhan Flannery replied for Offaly with two frees, 3-16 – 0-08 with ten minutes remaining in a game that was over long before the final whistle.
Kilkenny sustained their high performance level throughout the entirety of the game as Brian Dowling unloaded the bench. Substitutes Laura Murphy and Aoife Prendergast impacted on the game immediately upon their introduction, each scoring a point from play.
Prendergast prospered with the open space afforded to the Kilkenny forwards as she set up Denise Gaule for a fourth Kilkenny goal. Aoife Doyle added a point to move her tally up to 1-02 in Birr and give Kilkenny a 4-19 – 0-08 lead. Piltown’s Laura Norris got on the scoresheet late in the game followed by a point from play from Gaule as she notched on another score, leaving her with 1-08 as referee John McDonagh finally put Offaly out of their misery.
The victory confirms Kilkenny as group winners as they await the draw for the next round. They may be facing into a quarter-final despite topping the group as one of the three group winners will not automatically advance to the semi-finals.
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