Pics: Donal Foley
WE HAVE already established that Kilkenny don’t do panic.
It would also be fair to say that they don’t practice lethargy either.
Yet, as they strolled to victory over Offaly, it was hard not to ponder on whether they were already making preparations for their big challenge against All-Ireland champs Galway in Salthill next Sunday.
The Cats were in cruise control as they led by 1-13 to 0-7 after 40 minutes. In a first half against the wind, they gave as good as they got against an enthusiastic Offaly and led by six points at the interval.
Then came a rather weird spell in the tie. Kilkenny rang the changes, including calling ashore Luke Scanlon, who along with fellow young guns Conor Delaney, Liam Blanchfield and John Donnelly, had played brilliantly.
Any Offaly challenge appeared to be fizzling out as the game edged into half two but a combination of bad luck and erratic shooting coincided with at least a mini renaissance by the visitors who with eight minutes to go had hauled back Kilkenny’s lead to three points, 1-16 to
Dare we suggest it, but it seemed as if Kilkenny were prepared to turn the engine off and let their sporting vehicle freewheel to the finish line.
You could not call it lethargy and in a flash anyone who was thinking that way was soon back to level headedness as Liam Blanchfield hit a super goal, making up for the two he might have added earlier and certainly crowning a wonderful display.
Normal service was resumed and after a few minutes of injury time, Offaly were still stuck on
1-13 and Kilkenny had a healthy tally of 2-19.
Superb performances by the Cats will give boss Brian Cody the kind of conundrum that managers love.
One suspects that a selectors’ meeting this week may just take a little longer than usual.
If there was a Galway scout in the near 7,000 attendance in Nowlan Park on Sunday, he or she will have returned to the West with the message that the Cats are on fire.
And it will take a lot more than Salthill Fire Brigade to quench their forward march.