No mercy as Cats take awful Antrim to the cleaners

Kilkenny 6-33 Antrim 1-09

Antrim manager Tom McLean was insisting last week that his team were not travelling to Meath to make up the numbers against the reigning All-Ireland U21 champions - and he was right as the Ulster champions left it to Kilkenny to rack up the numbers.

With John Tennyson, James Fitzpatrick, Eoin Larkin and Richie Power in Adrian Finan’s first 15, Kilkenny will not lack motivation against Galway in the final after the senior semi in Croke Park two weekends ago.

In what has become a depressingly familiar story in the Glens, their task was made more difficult by the absence of eight of the Ulster final-winning team. Six were unavailable due to a round of club fixtures, disgracefully arranged for yesterday only last week, while two others dropped out.

“There’s no satisfaction in giving out a beating like that,” said Kilkenny manager Adrian Finan afterwards. “I suppose we have to be selfish though and look after our own interests. As we found out the last week, there’s little sympathy for Kilkenny teams when we lose ourselves.”

Larkin began the rout with a goal after three minutes and within a further two Power and Fitzpatrick had marked their cards as well. As early as the 10th minute it resembled more a game of backs and forwards than an All-Ireland semi-final.

The only respite for Antrim came in the form of free-taker John Scullion who found the target with every one of his six shots on goal from dead balls, but they were merely brief, illusory glimpses of the sun on another day of unmitigated gloom for Ulster hurling.

Finan concluded: “You wouldn’t get too much sympathy back in Kilkenny if it went wrong for you either. Looking back at it, you’d say ‘yeah, it would have been nicer to have a good tight game’ but you can’t pick and choose your games. You take what you get.”

KILKENNY: D Fogarty; S Maher, J Tennyson, D Cody; J Dalton, PJ Delaney, C Hoyne; M Rice, M Fennelly; J Fitzpatrick (0-8, 1f), A Murphy (0-5), E Larkin (1-3); E Reid (1-4), R Power (1-8, 7f), W O’Dwyer (1-3). Subs: E O’Gorman (0-1) for Fennelly 17, A McCarthy for Delaney 30, TJ Reid (2-1) for Power 37, P Holden for Tennyson 40, D McCormack for Fitzpatrick 52.

ANTRIM: D Kearns; B McDermott, J McKeigue, N McManus; P Chivers, G McAllister, C McFall; P Magill, D McNaughton (0-1); C McAuley, J Scullion (0-7, 6f), D Laverty; A McDonnell (1-0), P McDonnell, J Meade. Subs: C Boyle for McDermott 17, C Cunning for McNaughton 29, C Kenny for Cunning 36, D McGarry for McDonnell 47.

Referee: J Sexton (Limerick).

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