Aaron Gillane and Limerick are pure steel and fight, bad as it gets for Offaly, Kilkenny are back 10 months ago

Aaron Gillane and Limerick are pure steel and fight, bad as it gets for Offaly, Kilkenny are back

You can stand him up, you can stand in his way if you want but he's just going to bullock you out of it and then he's going to do damage.

Limerick 1-17 Wexford 2-11

Aaron Gillane had one hell of a 2018 and he's started the new year off on that same destructive path. And he's brought Limerick along with him.

The Shannonsiders travelled to Wexford Park for their first real competitive game since the All-Ireland last September and the lads proved that they're still mad as ever for the fight.

Seamus Flanagan said they would be beforehand, so did Declan Hannon. It's one thing saying it, it's another doing it but these lads are no jokers and they came down to the sunny south east for a battle.

Aaron Gillane led his troops.

Stationed at the edge of the square, the Limerick lads knew to hit it into him, high, low or any way they could whenever they got the chance. He'd take it from there.

Not too different from last year then.

Nine minutes was all it took for normal business to resume. Cian Lynch turned water into wine in a crowded area down near the endline, flicked it to his club man who cracked the bottle open with a no-look lasher off the left.

Mark Fanning didn't even see it, Kevin Foley nearly had his head taken off. Limerick had arrived.

From then on in, Gillane would provide an exhibition in catching high balls from the skies over Wexford heads and then doing the right thing as soon as he got it into his hand.

The perfect pass or the perfect point. Peter Casey took inspiration from him, the little Na Piarsaigh pitbull reeling off three points of his own in that first half too.

Seamus Flanagan was coming into it when he got his marching orders for some fistycuffs with Liam Ryan. Ryan had pushed Flanagan's teammate Lynch into the hoardings. It could well have been harmless, it could well have been accidental but the message was clear -Mess with one of us, mess with all of us.

Flanagan tore after Ryan and told him in no uncertain terms not to do that again. Both men were red carded, doubt Flanagan regretted much.

The game ebbed and flowed then but Limerick, with Diarmuid Byrnes lording and Dan Morrissey dominant always looked in control and despite Wexford piling on the pressure late on, they had the steel and they had the fight for it.

That man Gillane was the star - he looks bigger, faster stronger. Seriously look at the strength and the points here.

Waterford 2-28 Offaly 0-7

It doesn't get any more painful for Offaly hurling. For the last few years, they've dotted the odd decent performance in between two or three bad ones but this, a 27 point loss in their first competitive game of the year is as bad as it gets.

Stephen Bennett hit sixteen points, ten from play, DJ Foran hit 1-3.

Enough said.

Kilkenny 2-18 Cork 0-17

Both sides were depleted in Nowlan Park but Kilkenny's pick were much hungrier and much better. Young Tommy Walsh, a cousin of the great with the same name was exceptional for them at corner back. So was Richie Leahy off the bench and Billy Ryan up front.

Leahy and Ryan scored the goals but there were eye catching performances all over for the Cats - Captain Conor Fogarty looked sharper than ever, Conor Delaney picked off two points from half back and John Donnelly threw them over too.

This without Padraig Walsh, Cillian Buckley and TJ - don't let anyone kid you about Kilkenny.

Were it not for Patrick Horgan's excellence, Cork would have been beaten out the gate.

Galway 1-27 Laois 2-15

Laois never gave up but Galway were always in control. Davy Glennon struck the goal, Sean Bleahane and Loftus impressed but this was too easy for Galway.