Kilkenny always in control against Waterford

Kilkenny 1-20 Waterford 2-12

Kilkenny 1-20 Waterford 2-12

Kilkenny completed their Allianz NHL Division 1 run with an encouraging five-point win over Waterford at Nowlan Park.

A dominant first half display from the All-Ireland champions gave them the platform for this triumph, watched by 6,237 spectators.

John Mullane was Waterford's only scorer as they trailed by 1-10 to 0-2 at half-time, with Michael Grace netting for Kilkenny.

Second half goals from Eoin Kelly (penalty) and Kevin Moran reduced the arrears for the Deise, but late points from Richie Hogan and Eoin Guinan saw Kilkenny prevail.

A fourth place finish in the table will not be of too much concern to Kilkenny manager Brian Cody who watched corner forward Guinan impress with four points from play.

Guinan put in a workmanlike display for his first league start, while his St. Lachtain's club-mate Michael Kavanagh also enjoyed his first appearance in this year's league.

Kavanagh was part of a Kilkenny full-back line that gave Waterford's front line very little change, particularly in the opening half.

Jackie Tyrrell and Noel Hickey were in no mood to back down in what was effectively a meaningless game, with both counties not in contention to reach the final.

Veterans Tony Browne and Ken McGrath made welcome returns to the Waterford starting line-up, playing for the first time since last year's All-Ireland semi-final loss to Kilkenny.

Browne was his usual assured self at centre-back and was arguably the Deise's best player during a one-sided first 35 minutes.

The Cats had opened a 1-4 to 0-0 lead before John Mullane cracked over the vistors' first point in the 13th minute. Team captain TJ Reid opened the scoring for Kilkenny, with a 50-yard effort from Guinan doubling their leading.

Michael Grace, who was back from suspension, then scored 1-1 in the space of three minutes, with Guinan also knocking over his second point from close range.

Cody's men kept their foot on the gas as James 'Cha' Fitzpatrick scored from distance and TJ Reid sent over two points from the 70-yard range.

It was one-way traffic towards Adrian Power's goal but Kilkenny, despite hitting all bar one point from play at 1-8 to 0-1, had still amassed ten wides by that stage.

Mullane scored his second point before the break and Waterford turned with the wind behind them, and free-taker Eoin Kelly brought on as a substitute.

Waterford were at least more competitive in the second half. Early points from Kelly (0-02) and Ken McGrath took the visitors' total to 0-5, but well-taken scores from Richie Hogan, Derek Lyng and TJ Reid kept Kilkenny on course.

Davy Fitzgerald's charges upped the ante when Kelly powered a penalty low and hard to the net, past goalkeeper PJ Ryan and his defenders, and they registered a second goal when Stephen Molumphy played in impressive substitute Kevin Moran.

Moran's goal reduced the arrears to just three points at 1-18 to 2-12. However, with the promise of another successful summer ahead, Kilkenny clinically shut the door on the comeback with closing points from Hogan - his fifth of the afternoon - and Guinan.

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