Despite a shaky start, the Kilkenny Minor Hurlers ran out comprehensive winners over Antrim in the Leinster Minor Hurling Championship at Abbotstown on Saturday afternoon.
When Roan McGarry found the ne for Antrim in the 6th minute, the Saffrons led 1-1 to 0-2 but instead of a big shock being on the cards, KIlkenny responded in stunning style as they outscored their opponents 2-19 to 0-6 over the remaining 54 minutes or so.
Greg Kelly and Ed Lauhoff struck second half goals for the winners and along with Brian Moore who scored six points from play, the trio were a constant thorn to the Antrim rearguard.
Despite treacherous conditions overnight, the pitch in Abbotstown was in near pristine condition and it helped contribute to a free flowing game of hurling.
Conor Doyle and Roan McGarry swapped early frees before Doyle then pointed from play as Kilkenny opened up an early advantage.
Niall Bergin’s team were then rocked when Antrim struck for goal.
A few moments after missing a routine looking free, Roan McGarryfound the net when Orrin O’Connor found Enda McGurk before McGarry ended up at the end of the move and he shot past Billy O’Sullivan.
The goal seemed to bring the Cats to life as EdLauhoff, Greg Kelly and Conor Doyle all contributed to a four point in a row spell.
McGarry then responded with his second free of the half in the 20th minute but unfortunatley for the Ulster side, that would prove to be their last score of the half with McGarry doing all the damage.
Kilkenny would go on to hit five more points before the interval as efforts from Lauhofff, Doyle and Moore al found their range as the Cats led 0-11 to 1-2.
It was poetry in motion stuff for Kilkenny in the second period and as a result of Antrim not getting off the mark on the scoreboard till the 44th minute, the game was all but done as a contest with the side in black and amber leading by 11 points.
Moore, Lauhoff and Kelly again led the scoring spree and while Antrim did hit three points on the spin in the shape of Liam Glackin and Orrin O’Connor, Kilkenny soon found the net with O’Loughlin Gaels star Greg Kelly running from deep before firing a shot to the net.
The Cats added another late goal when sub Robbie Doherty set up Bill McDermott who rounded Anthony Mullan between the Antrim sticks as Kilkenny cruised home to a 16 point victory.
The winners will round off the round-robin series when playing host to Galway on Good Friday at 5pm.
Teams and Scorers
Kilkenny- Conor Doyle (0-8, three frees and one ’45), Brian Moore (0-6), Greg Kelly (1-3), Bill McDermott (1-0), Ed Lauhoff (0-3), James O’Neill (0-1)
Antrim- Roan McGarry (1-2, two frees), Orrin O’Connor (0-4, three frees), Liam Glackin, Padraig Martin (0-1 each)
Kilkenny- Billy O’Sullivan (James Stephens); Conor Brophy (Erins Own), Evan Murphy (Dicksboro), David Barcoe (Clara); Jerry Henderson (Fenians), Rory Garrett (Fenians), Michael Ahern (Emeralds); Darragh Vereker (Glenmore), Eoghan Cahill (Graigue Ballycallan); Bill McDermott (James Stephens), Ed Lauhoff (James Stephens), Greg Kelly (O’Loughlin gaels); Conor Doyle (Windgap), Mikey Stynes (Dicksboro), Brian Moore (Dicksboro).
Subs- Robbie Doherty (Mooncoin) for Cahill 46 mins, James O’Neill (St Martins) for Stynes 50 mins, Noah Manogue (James Stephens) for McDermott 54 mins, Andrew Phelan (Piltown) for Ahern 54 mins, Cian Phelan (Young Irelands) for Kelly 57 mins.
Antrim- Anthony Mullan; Reece Cunning, Cian Baudart, Padraig Martin; Niall Magee, Liam Glackin, Charlie MCauley; Enda McGurk, Ben O’Kane; Ronan Fitzgerald, Darragh Donnelly, Liam McEnhill; Roan McGarry, Orrin O’Connor, Callagh Mooney.
Subs- Sean Og McLaren for Mullan h-t, Callum Kane for Donnelly 46 mins, Peadar McDonnell for Fitzgerald 53 mins, Sean Og Blaney for Baudant 55 mins.
Referee- Sean Richard Maher (Offaly)