Leinster Senior Hurling Championship,Round One
Kilkenny 5-30 Antrim 0-13

AS hammerings go, they don't come much worse than what Antrim suffered against a rampant Kilkenny on Sunday afternoon at Nowlan Park.

A 32-point margin separated the sides at the final whistle that could have been even more as Kilkenny hit 17 wides, a stat that was not ideal for Derek Lyng's charges, but it is an area they will surely clean up going forward.

There was no mercy shown by the Cats who were keen to lay down a marker and they did just that, dominating from start to finish to give Antrim no encouragement of causing an upset.

They were simply stronger, sharper and playing the game at a different pace than Antrim who couldn't get into it at all.

For Antrim, there is a lot more work to be done if they are to make any inroads in the Championship as they were badly off the pace, the level of performance nowhere near where it needed to be at this stage of the year.

They were cleaned out on the restarts, dominated in the air and in the ruck, while there was nothing really offered going forward as the pressure put on the defence eventually seeing the floodgates open.

It was all too easy for Kilkenny at times who had 12 different scorers and with 4-9 coming off the bench, they will have been more than happy with how their afternoon went as they set the bar high for this campaign.

"Worlds apart," was how Antrim manager Darren Gleeson described it.

"Kilkenny's execution was unbelievable. We were exposed in a lot of areas, but most worrying is that they out-worked us. From the very first minute we should be a hungry team, but that lack of desire and work would really disappoint you. 

"There are going to be ups and downs in the game but it was literally floodgates open once that score (TJ Reid's goal) went in. We gave up really early in the game. The work-rate wasn't there, the endeavour wasn't there and simple tasks we didn't carry out how we'd like to.

"There wasn't much expected of us coming here today, but you'd expect a bit of fight and determination - that was the most disappointing aspect.

"We were tiers below. They (Kilkenny) will be disappointed with aspects of their game but there was no comparison between the two teams there."

Eoin Cody tackles Niall McKenna

Eoin Cody tackles Niall McKenna

After the initial exchanges that saw TJ Reid land two frees to Conal Cunning's one, Kilkenny began to open their shoulders with Adrian Mullen, Richie Reid and John Donnelly landing from play. 

The Saffrons replied with Cunning frees either side of their first from play by James McNaughton, the first of those placed balls coming when Eoghan Campbell was adjudged to have been trailed down just outside the area with goal on.

Kilkenny were dominating the restart with Antrim struggling to win primary possession and after points from Cian Kenny and Martin Keoghan, the goal they had been threatening arrived on 15 minutes as Paddy Deegan fetched an Antrim poc-out, went long to TJ Reid who beat Ryan McGarry in the air before scampering through for goal.

Two points followed before Antrim goalkeeper Ryan Elliott was sin-binned for taking down Keoghan outside the area but was deemed a penalty infringement. Tiernan Smyth came in with Niall McKenna making way for 10 minutes and the Ballycastle man made a stunning save from Reid's penalty.

A Conor McCann score at the other end was Antrim's response, yet although the wides were mounting for Kilkenny with nine in the opening half, there were enough scores to supplement as they led 1-15 to 0-7 at the break.

It took Kilkenny a few minutes to get going in the second period with Reid again getting them up and running from a free with John Donnelly and Shane Murphy chipping in straight after.

Antrim were making little to no headway, landing the odd sporadic score from Cunning frees, while Nigel Elliott, Eoghan Campbell, Donal Bohill and McNaughton split the posts, but they weren't having much by way of spells as Kilkenny went into overdrive.

Substitutes Owen Wall and Billy Drennan wasted little time to get on the board with the former rattling the Antrim net for his side's second goal on 49 minutes.

Drennan would deputise nicely for TJ Reid who had been called ashore with a haul of 1-6 between frees and play, his goal coming from a late penalty after Keoghan was tripped by Conor Boyd outside the area but deemed a goalscoring chance to earn another black card for Antrim.

Prior to that, Wall had blasted home his second goal and Gearóid Dunne also rattled the net to cap a hugely impressive display from Derek Lyng's men, while Antrim will now seek to bounce back when they host Wexford next week.

"In the first half it was competitive, but we weren't clinical enough," said Kilkenny boss, Lyng.

"We had good opportunities but didn't take them and the reality of it is if we don't next week (against Galway) we will be under pressure. We'll take something from that. It was a good overall performance but it wasn't perfect. 

"It was a good start, what we wanted. We were unfortunate with a few injuries (to Adrian Mullen and Eoin Murphy) but every team will have those challenges and we'll just have to get on with it."

KILKENNY: E Murphy; M Butler, H Lawlor, S Murphy (0-1); D Blanchfield, P Deegan (0-2), M Carey (0-1); C Kenny (0-4), R Reid (0-1); A Mullen (0-1), E Cody, J Donnelly (0-3); M Keoghan (0-3), TJ Reid (1-5, 0-3f), T Phelan.
Subs: G Dunne (1-1) for A Mullen (15), O Wall (2-2) for E Cody (39), B Drennan (1-6, 1-0 pen, 0-2f, 0-1 65) for TJ Reid (45), B Ryan for T Phelan (54), T Walsh for M Butler (62)
Temporary sub: A Tallis for E Murphy (HT-FT)

ANTRIM: R Elliott; P Duffin, R McGarry, P Burke; S Walsh, E Campbell (0-1), C Bohill (0-1); J McNaughton (0-2), N O'Connor; M Bradley, N Elliott (0-1), N McKenna; C Cunning (0-7f), C McCann (0-1), S Elliott.
Subs: N McKenna for R Elliottt (31), J McLaughlin for M Bradley (HT), R McCloskey for S Walsh (57), C Boyd for N McKenna (60)
Temporary sub: T Smyth for N McKenna (21-31)
Black cards: R Elliott (21), C Boyd (70).

REFEREE: Shane Hynes (Galway)