Kilkenny 1-17 Offaly 0-12
Kilkenny got their Allianz NHL Division 1 title defence off to a winning start against Leinster rivals Offaly this afternoon.
2,820 spectators turned up at Nowlan Park to watch Richie Power drive the Cats to a 0-10 to 0-7 half-time lead.
Power scored eight points before a head/neck injury unfortunately forced him off, with free-taker Shane Dooley keeping Offaly in touch.
Aidan Fogarty scrambled home Kilkenny's only goal in the 42nd minute and Offaly struggled in the second period, taking 32 minutes to register a point from play.
The victory was marred by the injury to full-forward Power, before half-time. The start of the second half was delayed as the Carrickshock clubman was put onto a stretcher and placed into an awaiting ambulance.
The hope is that injury is not as serious as first feared, especially given how well Power was operating in the opening 35 minutes.
This was a belated league start for the Cats whose opening game against Tipperary was postponed on two occasions due to wintry weather conditions in Thurles.
From the team selected to face Tipp, Brian Cody made one enforced change. Martin Comerford, who got married on Friday, was unavailable and his place in the attack went to Eoin McGrath from St. Martin's.
Offaly, who were well beaten by Cork last weekend, brought goalkeeper Brian Mullins in for his first appearance of the season.
Kilkenny opened the scoring with a PJ Delaney point from 45 metres out, and Power finished off a right wing run with a well-taken point for Kilkenny's second.
He soon added a free but three pointed frees at the other end from Offaly corner forward Shane Dooley had the sides level by the 12-minute mark.
The Faithfuls had a number of prominent performers in the first half, with David Kenny impressing at full-back as Kilkenny missed out on three goal-scoring chances.
Midfielder James Rigney also had his moments and Dooley continued to prosper from placed balls, taking his tally to five coming up to half-time.
Michael Rice added his name to the Kilkenny scoresheet but Power's haul of six frees, one '65' and a single score from play was the main difference between the sides.
Offaly brought Joe Bergin on for the second half and in the absence of Power, Kilkenny hit three early wides as the visitors closed the gap.
Dooley made it a two-point game by converting a 20-metre free, only for Fogarty's goal, following a scramble on the edge of the Offaly square, to give Kilkenny a timely boost.
Offaly fought hard to reduce the arrears again through Dooley's free-taking, but two late points from play from Ger Healion and Dylan Hayden served as little consolation.
Although playing well below par, Kilkenny maintained their lead and Power's replacement, John Mulhall, landed a couple of well-taken points to keep the scoreboard ticking over.