Kilkenny continued their pursuit for Allianz League honours with a commanding victory over a brave Laois side in Nowlan Park.
Laois looked like they had an upset in them in the early stages of the second half, notching the first four points with the wind behind their backs.
Kilkenny and in-particular Eoin Cody had other plans, the Ballyhale youngster coming to the fore for the Cats to hit 1-5 in a five-minute spell and put the result beyond all doubt.
Laois were forced to cough up home advantage for this clash due to an overworked surface at the Portlaoise venue, but it allowed a dress rehearsal for their Leinster Championship meeting to proceed.
Laois’ status in the Division 1B was confirmed for another year following their win against Carlow last weekend and with the knockout stages out of their reach, there was little to play in this encounter.
Alan Murphy and Ross King traded early frees before the opening goal arrived six minutes in when the Laois defence opened up to allow Billy Ryan to rifle low past goalkeeper Enda Rowland.
Kilkenny attacked at will and the scores came easily for Cody’s men against a Laois defence that struggled to stop the onslaught. The home side went on to hit seven of the next ten points to pull clear by the 20th minute, the highlight of the scoring a brilliant point from Laois vice-captain Willie Dunphy.
The half ended in hectic fashion when Alan Murphy goaled on the stroke of half-time, but Laois went up the other end and earned a penalty that Rowland came forward to confidently dispatch.
“Just after half-time to get the start we got, that should’ve really catapulted us into that match,” said Laois boss Eddie Brennan. “But the one thing we well know at this stage is that when you come to Nowlan Park, the one area you have to be really strong in is the work-rate, the tackle and the honesty. That was probably the difference.”
Aside from the initial Laois scoring spree, they rarely troubled Kilkenny in the closing half. Eoin Cody took over the free-taking duties for the half and Henry Shefflin’s nephew gave a coming-of-age performance.
Scorers for Kilkenny: E Cody (1-8, 1-0 pen, 0-4 frees, 2 65s), A Murphy (1-5, 3 frees, 1 65), B Ryan (1-1), J Maher and M Keoghan (0-2 each), D Brennan (free), R Leahy, G Aylward and J Bergin (0-1 each).
Scorers for Laois: R King (0-9, 5 frees, 2 65s), W Dunphy (0-3), E Rowland (1-0, pen), E Gaughan and P Purcell (0-2 each), J Lennon, A Dunphy and J Ryan (0-1 each).
KILKENNY: D Brennan, T Walsh, H Lawlor, C Wallace, C Delaney, P Walsh, D Mullen, R Leahy, J Maher, M Keoghan, E Cody, A Murphy, B Ryan, W Walsh, G Aylward.
Subs: L Scanlon for Murphy (half-time), B Sheehan for W Walsh (48), M Carey for Maher (52), J Bergin for Keoghan (57), S Walsh for Aylward (66).
LAOIS: E Rowland, L Senior, M Whelan, D Hartnett, R Broderick, P Delaney, C McEvoy, F Fennell, C Stapleton, A Dunphy, J Ryan, P Purcell, R King, W Dunphy, E Gaughan.
Subs: J Kelly for Senior (28), J Lennon for Stapleton (30), C Taylor for Ryan (66), J Keyes for McEvoy (66), C Phelan for Fennell (69).
Referee: John Keenan (Wicklow)