Kilkenny hold off late fightback to edge classic with Waterford

Waterford 2-17 Kilkenny 2-19

Kilkenny booked their place in the All-Ireland final after another epic battle in Thurles, 30,358 in attendance for a game that ended in scarcely believable drama, writes Michael Moynihan.

A Pauric Mahony effort to draw the game in the closing seconds pulled down by Kilkenny keeper Eoin Murphy, who cleared outfield for Richie Hogan to score the insurance point.

This All-Ireland semi-final replay began with a bang, Austin Gleeson scything through for a goal, but Kilkenny didn't hesitate, hitting back with a brace of goals by the dangerous Colin Fennelly. The Ballyhale man was far more threatening this weekend than he was in Croke Park last Sunday, turning the Waterford defence for his first and ghosting in behind the cover to smash home his second.

Pauric Mahony pushed Waterford closer with a free before we had the game's fourth goal at the end of the first quarter, Jake Dillon coming onto a Shane Bennett pass - 2-4 to 2-2. TJ Reid almost got an immortal goal, soloing through the middle, but his shot was smartly saved by Stephen O'Keeffe.

Kilkenny dominated the second quarter, hitting seven points to Waterford's two - both of those Mahony frees - as the Deise lacked numbers in the half-forward line, allowing Kilkenny a platform. A burst of scores helped the Cats to half-time - TJ Reid free and Michael Fennelly and Walter Walsh points had Kilkenny three ahead at the break, 2-10 to 0-7.

The Cats were brisk on the resumption, coming close to a goal only for O'Keeffe to deny them again, but three points on the bounce pushed their lead to four 10 minutes into the half.

The game now resembled last week's in reverse, with Kilkenny trying to maintain a four- or five-point lead and Waterford chipping away at it. On fifty minutes it was a two-point lead thanks to sub Maurice Shanahan's score, but Kilkenny had stretched it to four three minutes later, thanks to Hogan's superb point - Gleeson answered with a better score.

With four minutes left Mahony's free made it a one-point game and Barron tied it up. There was still time, with the clock going into the red, though, for late Kilkenny scores to make it safe despite Waterford having a terrific chance to send the game to extra time.

Scorers for Waterford: P. Mahony (0-9, 0-8 frees); A. Gleeson (1-1); J. Barron (0-3), J. Dillon (1-0); Shane Bennett, M. Shahanan (0-2).

Scorers for Kilkenny: C. Fennelly (2-1); TJ Reid (0-7, 0-6 frees); R. Hogan (0-4); L. Blanchfield (0-3); P. Walsh (0-2); W. Walsh, E. Larkin (0-1 each).

WATERFORD: S. O'Keeffe, S. Fives, B. Coughlan, N. Connors, C. Gleeson, T. de Burca, P. Mahony, J. Barron, K. Moran, P. Mahony, A. Gleeson, M. Walsh, J. Dillon, Shane Bennett, Stephen Bennett.

Subs: M. Shanahan for Stephen Bennett (46); Patrick Curran for Shane Bennett (54); T. Devine for Dillon (61).

KILKENNY: E. Murphy, P. Murphy, J. Holden, S. Prendergast ( c), P. Walsh, M. Bergin, C. Buckley, C. Fogarty, M. Fennelly, W. Walsh, TJ Reid, L. Blanchfield, E. Larkin, C. Fennelly, R. Hogan.

Subs: L. Ryan for M. Fennelly (59); JJ Farrell for Bergin (61); J. Power for W. Walsh (blood 60-6); K. Kelly for Blanchfield (70).

Referee: J. McGrath (Westmeath).

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