Allianz Hurling League Division 1
KILKENNY 2-21 WATERFORD 0-21
By John Harrington at UPMC Nowlan Park
Kilkenny secured their place in the Allianz Hurling League semi-finals thanks to this workmanlike victory over Waterford.
Liam Cahill will take solace from the fact that his team have also qualified for the semi-finals despite this defeat, but he’ll have been disappointed with their uncharacteristically limp display.
They started the match well but faded badly mid-way through the first-half and didn’t play with the relentless energy that had been their calling-card in previous matches in this campaign.
You can be sure Cahill will be demanding a response from his players when they play Wexford in the semi-finals.
As for Kilkenny, they’ll be very satisfied with another win that adds to an impressive body of work so far in this League campaign.
Young guns like Cian Kenny, David Blanchfield, and Mikey Butler are developing nicely, and more experienced players like Walter Walsh, Padraig Walsh, and Huw Lawlor continue to lead by example.
They won convincingly in the end but it did take Brian Cody’s team some time to find their groove.
Waterford’s execution was slicker in the first quarter and they had opened up 0-8 to 0-4 lead by the 17th minute.
Forwards like Dessie Hutchinson, Neil Montogmery, Michael Kiely and Austin Gleeson looked sharp in this period of the match, and the Deise were also dominating the physical exchanges in the middle third of the pitch.
Kilkenny struggled to make much headway against the Waterford half-back line in that first quarter, but the balance of power then shifted when Padraig Walsh thundered into the match.
He scored three points in six minutes to help Kilkeny move to within a single point of Waterford and give their previously subdued supporters something to shout about.
Points from Pauric Mahony and Neil Montgomery briefly stretched Wateford’s advantage to three points, but the sides were then level when Cillian Buckley struck for the first goal of the match.
It was a sweet score too as Walsh and David Blanchfield did well to put Buckley through and then the Dicksboro man unleashed a rocket of a shot to the corner of Billy Nolan’s net.
Kilkenny stayed on the front foot from there to the half-time break by which time they led by 1-10 to 0-11.
They brought that momentum into the second-half too, scoring three points in quick succession to move five ahead.
Points from Austin Gleeson and Conor Dalton briefly gave Waterford some impetus, but they then suffered a fatal blow when Billy Ryan struck for Kilkenny’s second goal after good work in the build-up by Padraig Walsh.
For the next 15 minutes much of the energy petered out of the game as Kilkenny kept Waterford at arm’s distance without too much difficulty.
When DJ Foran was then red-carded for a high tackle on Mikey Butler an already uphill struggle now looked a hopeless one.
A late Waterford renaissance briefly threated to make the game interesting as points from Austin Gleeson (2) and Dessie Hutchinson reduced the gap to three points.
But Kilkenny finished with a flourish as a burst of four points in little more than as many minutes secured the win and a semi-final clash with Cork.
Scorers for Kilkenny: Padraig Walsh 0-5, Alan Murphy 0-5 (4f), Billy Ryan 1-1, Cillian Buckley 1-0, Walter Walsh 0-3, Eoin Cody 0-2, Adrian Mullen, James Maher, John Donnelly, Cian Kenny, Eoin Murphy (f) all 0-1
Scorers for Waterford: Austin Gleeson 0-7 (4f, 1’65), Neil Montgomery 0-3, Paraic Mahony 0-3 (3f), Dessie Hutchinson 0-2, Michael Kiely, Colin Dunford, Darragh Lyons, Carthach Daly, Conor Dalton, Jack Fagan all 0-1.
KILKENNY: Eoin Murphy; Mikey Butler, Huw Lawlor, Tommy Walsh; Mikey Carey, Richie Reid, David Blanchfield; Cian Kenny, Cillian Buckley; Walter Walsh, Padraig Walsh, Adrian Mullen; Billy Ryan, Martin Keoghan, Alan Murphy. Subs: Eoin Cody for Adrian Mullen (42), James Maher for Cian Kenny (56), John Donnelly for Martin Keoghan (58).
WATERFORD: Billy Nolan; Cian Wadding, Iarlaith Daly, Shane McNulty; Jack Fagan, Tadhg de Búrca, Conor Dalton; Carthach Daly, Darragh Lyons; Neil Montgomery, Austin Gleeson, Pauric Mahony; Dessie Hutchinson, Michael Kiely, Colin Dunford. Subs: DJ Foran for Pauric Mahony (ht), Shane Bennett for Michael Kiely (48), Kieran Bennett for Colin Dunford (53), Michael Harney for Cian Wadding (60), Michael Mahony for Darragh Lyons (65).
Referee: Johnny Murphy (Limerick)