HL1A: wasteful Waterford trump Cats

February 14, 2016

Waterford's Austin Gleeson holds onto possession after catching a high ball over Richie Hogan of Kilkenny.
©INPHO/Cathal Noonan.

Waterford 0-14
Kilkenny 0-10

Waterford opened their Allianz League defence with victory over All-Ireland champions Kilkenny at Walsh Park.

A combination of wayward Deise shooting - they racked up 18 wides - and the accurate free-taking of TJ Reid at the other end ensured this local derby clash remained in the melting point until Jake Dillon's injury-time point finally settled it. Kilkenny, who were frustrated by the home side's by now familiar defensive set-up, finished the game with 14 men after Colin Fennelly was issued with a second yellow card five minutes from the end.

Waterford led by 0-8 to 0-6 at half-time and restricted Brian Cody's men to just four points in a tense second half. If this performance is anything to go by, Derek McGrath's charges seem intent on building on last year's remarkable progress when they won the Allianz League from Division 1B and reached the All-Ireland semi-final.

The hosts came flying out of the starting blocks to lead by 0-3 to 0-0 after seven minutes thanks to points from Maurice Shanahan and Kevin Moran. TJ Reid got the Cats up-and-running with a brace of frees and they eventually regained parity at 0-4 apiece in the 16th minute through the Ballyhale Shamrocks sharpshooter.

Waterford were already dominating possession at this stage, but weren't making it count on the scoreboard with Shanahan having an off-day from frees.

Colin Dunford edged them back in front before Reid tied up the scoring again from a free in the 23rd minute. Colin Fennelly put Kilkenny in front for the first time with a brilliant score, but Dunford's second point brought the Deise back onto level terms before Shane Bennett and Patrick Hurney with a long-range free gave them a two-point advantage at the break.

Kilkenny resumed with a point from the subdued Richie Hogan before Waterford registered their 11th wide. The unerring Reid levelled from another placed ball, but Maurice Shanahan hit back to give the home side a 0-9 to 0-8 lead.

Reid uncharacteristically dropped a free short before points from play by Patrick Curran and Shanahan put Waterford three clear.  Reid ended a 20-minute scoring lull for the Cats from another free to keep the pressure on the home side, but Shane Bennett steadied them with two crucial frees.

Another Reid placed ball in the 68th minute left three between the sides once again, but Waterford weren't to be denied as Dillon fired over on the run in stoppage-time. Kilkenny's misery was compounded when Walter Walsh's late goal chance was saved by Stephen O'Keeffe.

Waterford - S O'Keeffe; S Fives, B Coughlan, N Connors; K Moran, D Fives, P Mahony; J Barron, A Gleeson (0-1); M Walsh, P Curran (0-3, 1f), J Dillon (0-2); C Dunford (0-2), M Shanahan (0-3, 1f), S Bennett (0-3, 2f). Subs: C Roche for M Shanahan, B O'Halloran for P Curran, S McNulty for N Connors.

Kilkenny - E Murphy; P Murphy, J Holden, S Prendergast; P Walsh (0-1), K Joyce, D Cody; C Buckley, C Fogarty; W Walsh, R Hogan (0-1), TJ Reid (0-7, 6f); JJ Farrell, M Kelly, C Fennelly (0-1). Sub: J Maher for M Kelly.

Referee - A Kelly.

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