By John Fogarty
Waterford 4-23 Kilkenny 2-22 after extra-time
A Maurice Shanahan goal in the second half of additional time set Waterford on their way to a historic and captivating championship victory over Kilkenny in Thurles.
Despite hauling back an eight-point deficit in the latter stages of normal time, the Cats lost to the Déise for the first time in the SHC since 1959, the 11th time of asking and were duly knocked out of the championship after the teams were tied at the end of regulation play for a second season in a row.
Three minutes into the second extra period, Shanahan was quickest in reacting to a ball Kilkenny’s backs failed to negotiate and ran clear before finishing to the delight of the Waterford contingent in the 33,181 crowd.
The sides exchanged the lead twice in the first additional 10-minute period and Waterford led by one when Jamie Barron took receipt of an Austin Gleeson ball, ran at a vacant Kilkenny cover and his shot, although not struck clinically, was too good for Eoin Murphy. It was enough to see the Déise go 3-19 to 2-18 ahead going into the turnaround.
Waterford had led 1-10 to 1-5 at half-time and while they saw the advantage narrowed to two points by the 43rd minute they ended a 12-minute spell without a score in the 47th minute via Jamie Barron and the next couple came courtesy of Austin Gleeson.
Shane Bennett’s thunderbolt goal in the 43th minute, after some fine Michael Walsh work, sent Waterford seven clear. It became eight when Kevin Moran flew over his second point but only after substitute Lester Ryan sent a fierce ground shot wide.
Waterford still led by eight going into the last minutes of regulation time but Kilkenny didn’t know they were beaten. A Ryan point was followed by a Reid free and then came their second goal, Colin Fennelly fortunate not to be whistled for charging but Reid on the end of it to put the ball over the goal-line.
A Ger Aylward point came next to cut the gap to two and then substitute Richie Leahy delivered a mighty score from close to the Ryan Stand sideline. Kilkenny’s tails were well and truly up and Colin Fennelly sent over the equaliser.
Having only come on for Pauric Mahony, Maurice Shanahan had a long-range free to win it, awarded to Stephen Bennett quite fortuitously, but sent it wide and extra-time beckoned.
Kilkenny’s forward line managed just two points from play in the first half of normal time, a poor return consistent with what they had offered up against Limerick and Wexford. Their ball retention was lacking too and Pauric Mahony’s five first half frees were as much the Cats’ attack’s fault given the amount of ball they were allowing come the direction of their backs.
Waterford led from the outset, going 0-2 to 0-0 after five minutes, and doubled that lead with three Mahony placed balls 13 minutes later. Jake Dillon was causing major problems for Pádraic Walsh and had won three frees, converted by Mahony, by half-time.
Austin Gleeson looked to be back to himself with two fine points while Shane Bennett was just as difficult to get a hold of as Dillon. It was his tenacity just before the break in the wake of a Paul Murphy foul that set up Michael Walsh for his first goal for Waterford in 11 years.
Kilkenny had threatened to fire into the game when Reid fired a goal from a 33rd minute penalty after Richie Hogan was upended. His shot was too good for Stephen O’Keeffe who managed to get a touch on it. The score brought Kilkenny to within two points, 0-9 to 1-4, but the next score was a beauty from Gleeson despite Robert Lennon’s foul.
Scorers for Waterford: Pauric Mahony (0-6, 5 frees, 1 65); J. Barron, M. Shanahan (0-2 frees) (1-3 each); A. Gleeson (0-5); M. Walsh, Shane Bennett (1-0 each); K. Moran, T. Ryan (0-2 each); J. Dillon, P. Curran (0-1 each).
Scorers for Kilkenny: T.J. Reid (2-12, 1-0 pen, 0-10 frees, 0-1 65); L. Ryan (0-3); R. Leahy (0-2); R. Hogan, E. Murphy (free), K. Kelly, G. Aylward, C. Fennelly (0-1 each).
WATERFORD: S. O’Keeffe; B. Coughlan, C. Gleeson; T. de Burca; N. Connors, Philip Mahony, S. Fives; J. Barron, K. Moran (c); Pauric Mahony, M. Walsh, A. Gleeson; J. Dillon, Shane Bennett.
Subs for Waterford: S. McNulty for N. Connors (blood, 44-49); P. Curran for J. Dillon (48); Stephen Bennett for Shane Bennett (61); M. Shanahan for M. Walsh (69), B. O’Halloran for Pauric Mahony (70+4); T. Ryan for Stephen Bennett (79); C. Dunford for P. Curran (85); S. McNulty for N. Connors (86).
KILKENNY: E. Murphy; P. Murphy, P. Walsh; C. Buckley; R. Lennon, J. Lyng, C. Fogarty; M. Fennelly, P. Deegan (c), W. Walsh; C. Fennelly, T.J. Reid, K. Kelly; R. Hogan, J.J. Farrell.
Subs for Kilkenny: L. Ryan for P. Deegan, G. Aylward for J.J. Farrell (both h-t); C. Bolger for K. Kelly (49); R. Leahy for R. Hogan (63); L. Blanchfield for M. Fennelly (inj, 74); R. Hogan for G. Aylward (85).
Referee: J. Owens (Wexford).