Cody's killer Cats as lethal as ever
Aylward leads Kilkenny rout as Wexford backs sprout more leaks than Irish Water
NO shock horror stories from Nowlan Park, just something of a horror show from Wexford. Yet, as Liam Dunne calls in the 'CSI Slaneyside' squad to conduct the forensics on this one-sided Leinster semi-final mutilation, at least he can console himself with the realisation that this is what Kilkenny do to vulnerable victims.
They go for the kill, preferably early to shatter any illusion of a contest. Then they keep on twisting the knife, just to make doubly sure.
Kilkenny entered the championship arena in something of an incongruous position - as All-Ireland holders, the team to beat, and yet with outsiders wondering out loud if they were still the force of old. That's what happens when six of your most decorated veterans retire, removing 48 Celtic Crosses from the dressing-room in the process.
Never mind the caveat that just one of this silver-laden sextet, JJ Delaney, was a consistent starter last summer; there was a perception that Kilkenny could actually be the vulnerable ones entering Nowlan Park yesterday for their first competitive outing in 12 weeks ...
So much for perception.
"Who is anybody codding about Kilkenny?" mused Wexford boss Dunne. "If I had the players that had retired from the Kilkenny panel last year, I'd have a strong panel this year. There's a good chance a good few of them would get on the team as well.
"Look, they are who they are and they are totally committed in what they do. They are a driven team and they have been an outstanding team over the last ... well, since the GAA was erected. Look, it was a disappointing day for Wexford but we'll come again."
That defiant parting note must be open to question after this collectively shambolic performance. Their first touch ranged between fumbling and foostering; the delivery into their forward line was persistently wayward and sometimes clueless; and their full-back line was wide open, time and again.
The result was carnage on an epic scale, the final margin of 24 points replicating the rout that Limerick dished out to Wexford in last year's All-Ireland quarter-final.
Three forwards, primarily, shared in the plunder. Ger Aylward marked his first SHC start with 3-5 from play, but he was pushed all the way for the Man of the Match crystal by Richie Hogan (1-5, all from play) and TJ Reid (1-7, including three points from play and a trademark example of how to bury a one-on-one penalty).
The latter All Star duo had an assist for Aylward's first two goals, while Eoin Larkin was another seasoned attacker performing with a vim that proved far too much for a Wexford defence sprouting more leaks than Irish Water.
Kilkenny's first two goals (via Hogan and Aylward) arrived inside 13 minutes and seek to sap all morale from our Model pretenders, who looked in serious peril when turning to face a strong wind, trailing 3-7 to 0-10. They lost the second half by 2-18 to 0-6, with Aylward's second goal (on 47 minutes) a signal for total capitulation. His hat-trick arrived six minutes later; then out came the calculators.