TJ Reid scoring a goal for Kilkenny against Antrim in the Leinster SHC at Corrigan Park. Photo by Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile
TJ Reid scoring a goal for Kilkenny against Antrim in the Leinster SHC at Corrigan Park. Photo by Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile

Leinster SHC: Kilkenny register victory

Leinster Senior Hurling Championship

Kilkenny 5-31 Antrim 3-20

By David Mohan at Corrigan Park

A ruthless display from Kilkenny saw they take Antrim apart at a sunny Corrigan Park on Sunday to keep their bid for a Leinster final place firmly on track.

A hat-trick of goals in the first half from Martin Keoghan and one in each half for top-scorer TJ Reid underlined the Noresiders' dominance and while Antrim continued to battle to the last, they were never really in contention in the second period.

The hosts will rue a slow start that saw Kilkenny rattle the net twice to put them on the back foot and while they initially rallied, but the break they were 18 adrift. 

Kilkenny hadn't found the net in their opening two games in the competition but were quick to correct that stat as after TJ Reid pointed a free in the opening seconds, from the subsequent puck-out, Alam Murphy rose to fetch with the ball played inside and John Donnelly found Martin Keoghan for this first of his goals.

They didn't have long to wait for a second as after Kelean Molloy got Antrim on the board, Eoin Murphy's poc-out found Reid in an obscene amount of space and he was able to gallop through to blast home.

Yet Antrim responded well with a Paul Boyle point and then from a long delivery, Conor Johnston knocked down into the path of Molloy to race through and hit the roof of the net, pegging the gap to 2-2 to 1-2.

The sides traded points, but Kilkenny then began to pull away with their touch and vision excellent as Antrim were now struggling to gain any traction, rattling off five points on the spin.

The hosts kept plugging away with Niall McKenna splitting the posts from an acute angle, but the scores were flowing at the other end through Adrian Mullen, Billy Ryan, Reid and Richie Reid who thumped over from range.

The Cats were threatening more goals to put this game to bed before the break and they got two in the space of a minute, both through Keoghan to complete his hat-trick, fed first by Eoin Cody and then Tom Phelan as Kilkenny carried a 4-16 to 1-7 lead into the half.

In fairness, the hosts showed plenty of heart and enjoyed an excellent 10 minutes after the break, sparked by a goal for Conor Johnston two minutes in as he got onto a long deliver from Ryan McGarry to wriggle free and fire home.

Points from David Blanchfield and Tom Phelan was the Kilkenny reply, but the Saffrons had another goal soon after and again it came from a route-one delivery as this time Neil McManus was on the end of it to find the space to rattle the net.

A hat-trick of points followed from Molloy, McManus and Gerard Walsh as the gap was narrowed to 10, but that would be as close as they would get as Kilkenny upped it a gear with Reid, Walter Walsh and Keoghan on target, while Eoin Cody got in on the act for the day.

Antrim stuck to the task and picked off some nice scores through Niall McKenna and James McNaughton, but the game was long since decided with Kilkenny's fifth goal coming on 67 minutes as Cody passed inside to TJ Reid who whipped to the net.

He and Cody would add points to put a gloss on their afternoon and while Cunning and Paul Boyle closed out with late points for Antrim, victory was Kilkenny's who are now in a three-way tie at the top with Galway and Dublin heading into the break.

Scorers for Kilkenny: TJ Reid 2-10 (0-6 frees, 0-2 65s), Martin Keoghan 3-3, Billy Ryan 0-4, Adrian Mullen 0-2, Alan Murphy 0-3, Eoin Cody 0-2, Walter Walsh 0-2, Richie Reid 0-1, David Blanchfield 0-1, Tom Phelan 0-1, Cillian Buckley 0-1, Eoin Murphy 0-1 (free)

Scorers for Antrim: Conal Cunning 0-8 (6 frees, 1 65), Keelan Molloy 1-2, Niall McKenna 0-4, Nail McManus 1-1, Conor Johnston 1-0, Paul Boyle 0-2, James McNaughton 0-2, Gerard Walsh 0-1

Kilkenny: Eoin Murphy; Mikey Butler, Huw Lawlor, Tommy Walsh; David Blanchfield, Richie Reid, Darragh Corcoran; Adrian Mullen, Alan Murphy; Tom Phelan, John Donnelly, Billy Ryan; Martin Keoghan, TJ Reid, Eoin Cody

Subs: Padraig Walsh for T Walsh (42), Cillain Buckley for A Murphy (48), Walter Walsh for T Phelan (54), Richie Hogan for A Mullen (60), Niall Brennan for M Keoghan (64).

Antrim: Ryan Elliott; Paddy Burke, Ryan McGarry, Niall O'Connor; Gerard Walsh, Michael Bradley, Conall Bohill; Paul Boyle, James McNaughton; Keelan Molloy, Conal Cunning, Niall McKenna; Conor Johnston, Neil McManus, Rian McMullan.

Subs: Stephen Rooney for M Bradley (34), Eoin O'Neill for R McMullan (53), Domhnall Nugent for N McManus (53), Caolan McKernan for G Walsh (58), Seamus McAuley for K Molloy (64).

Referee: Shane Hayes (Galway).