By Paul Keane
Kilkenny 6-20 Offaly 0-14
Colin Fennelly netted twice at Nowlan Park to help a rampant Kilkenny secure their Allianz Hurling League semi-final place before limping off with a concerning hamstring complaint.
Fennelly hit 2-1 in total including the early goal that put the All-Ireland champions into a 15-point lead by the 25th minute and, even at that early stage, progression seemed a certainty.
Kevin Kelly registered 1-7 while Lester Ryan, John Power and Liam Blanchfield were also on the mark with goals in an all too easy 24-point win for Brian Cody's side.
But Fennelly's injury late on, which was apparent as he pulled up clutching his leg, was a setback while elder brother Michael, starting his first game of the year, also left the action early on with an apparent hamstring twinge.
Robert Lennon and Paul Murphy were taken off early on too and it remains to be seen how much damage was done to the quartet ahead of their April 17 semi-final clash with Clare.
Aside from that, it was as routine a victory as Kilkenny could possibly have hoped for and was all but secured by the 25th minute when they led by that huge margin.
Offaly had hoped to capitalise on Kilkenny's experimental nature with Cody making a number personnel switches but the opposite occurred as fringe players determined to impress made their mark in some style.
Kelly, who hit 2-1 against Tipperary here in Round 2, scored 1-3 early on while Fennelly grabbed Kilkenny's second goal in the 25th minute.
Like Kelly, Jonjo Farrell is fighting for a regular spot and was involved in the buildup for both goals. Blanchfield slotted a fine score from out on the right wing too.
Offaly recovered late in the half with four points to trail 2-11 to 0-5 at the break but progression was already a lost cause.
Eamonn Kelly's side open their Leinster championship qualifier series account on May 1 and outscored Kilkenny by four points to one early in the second-half.
But that was as good as it got with Fennelly's second goal arriving in the 40th minute and Power hitting Kilkenny's fourth soon after.
Ryan floated in a high ball that somehow skidded to the net for their fifth in the 62nd minute and Blanchfield wrapped up the goal blitz late on.
Scorers for Kilkenny: Kevin Kelly 1-7 (0-7f), Colin Fennelly 2-1, Liam Blanchfield 1-3, John Power 1-2, Lester Ryan 1-2, Michael Fennelly 0-2, Walter Walsh 0-1, Cillian Buckley 0-1, Conor O'Shea 0-1
Scorers for Offaly: Shane Dooley 0-6 (0-6f), Kevin Connolly 0-3, James Mulrooney 0-2, Paddy Murphy 0-1, Colin Egan 0-1, Joe Bergin 0-1
Kilkenny: Eoin Murphy; Paul Murphy, Robert Lennon, Shane Prendergast; Conor O'Shea, Kieran Joyce, Cillian Buckley; Michael Fennelly, Lester Ryan; Walter Walsh, Colin Fennelly, Kevin Kelly; Liam Blanchfield, Jonjo Farrell, John Power.
Subs: Joey Holden for Lennon (7), Diarmuid Cody for M Fennelly (25), Jackie Tyrrell for Murphy (28), Michael Malone for Cody (44), Conor Martin for Walsh (62).
Offaly: James Dempsey; Niall Wynne, Dermot Shortt, Chris McDonald; Dermot Mooney, Conor Doughan, Pat Camon; Sean Ryan, Kevin Connolly; Colin Egan, Shane Kinsella, Padraig Guinan; Shane Dooley, Joe Bergin, James Mulrooney.
Subs: Paddy Murphy for Guinan (29), Cillian Kiely for Ryan (53), Dan Kelleher for Shortt (53), James Gorman for Kinsella (64), Jason Sampson for Doughan (68).
Referee: Alan Kelly (Galway).