Kilkenny 2-15 Waterford 0-16
Kilkenny’s ability to find the net was the vital difference in this Allianz Hurling League Division 1A clash at Nowlan Park with Waterford, their brace of goals seeing them home for a first league win of 2013.
“It was a big challenge all the way through,” said Cats boss Brian Cody after the game. “Waterford played very well, I thought. They have very good hurlers. It was a good, tough game and the big thing for us was to get two points on the table and stay in touch with the rest of them. Thank God we did.”
Waterford started with a bang, a massive pointed free from his own half by keeper Stephen O’Keeffe with the help of the wind, and they were sharper than their opponents in the first-half.
The triumvirate of midfielder Shane O’Sullivan and half-backs Michael ‘Brick’ Walsh and Kevin Moran gave Waterford plenty of go-forward ball, to use a phrase current in another code.
Kilkenny were dependent on Tommy Walsh, as ever, to provide ammunition for his forwards, and Richie Hogan, drifting from wing to wing, availed of the supply with two good points. By the end of the first quarter it was 0-4 apiece, the highlight a sublime sideline cut point from Waterford’s Jake Dillon.
The visitors then reeled off three points in a row, from O’Sullivan and a Padraic Mahony brace of frees, before the game’s first goal in the 24th minute. O’Keeffe tried a short puck-out but Cats attacker Ger Aylward was alert, intercepted the ball and made a lot of ground before finishing crisply.
Dillon and Shane Walsh responded with points and Eoin Larkin (free) and Colin Fennelly tied it up at 0-9 each, but late, late points from Dillon and Moran gave the Dáise a deserved 0-11 to 0-9 lead at the break.
Kilkenny didn’t dither after the cup of tea, rattling over three points (two from Fogarty and a Larkin free) within two minutes of the resumption. Padraic Mahony then hit three on the trot, and to emphasise Kilkenny’s day of misfires, Paul Murphy had to depart on 44 minutes with what looked like a hamstring pull. Kilkenny spluttered noticeably thereafter. The passes didn’t stick and a few balls fell aimlessly, and uncharacteristically wide – when Richie Hogan put Colin Fennelly clean through with a glorious pass, Fennelly’s shot for goal dribbled wide.
Entering the final quarter, though, points from Fogarty, Lester Ryan and sub Matthew Ruth meant it was level, 1-12 to 0-15, though Ruth could have had a goal if not for Brick Walsh’s fine hook. Larkin nudged the Cats ahead with a free on 60 minutes, and the game lurched the home side’s way when a long Paddy Hogan free on 63 minutes was dropped by the Waterford keeper, Matthew Ruth poking the ball over the line to make the score 2-13 to 0-15. Larkin’s late points were the icing on the cake.
“The goals we gave away, they were very hard to make up,” said Waterford manager Michael Ryan. “The second goal in particular, they were on the run after that with the wind behind them and there was no catching them. Overall though I’m delighted with the performance, the first 20 minutes of the second-half against the wind. In fairness for the second goal, conditions were poor, but those things happen. We have to learn from them and drive on. There’s another big game again next week.
“With 15 minutes to go we were in a strong position and we didn’t finish it off. It [the league] will be in the melting pot until the last ball is pucked in two weeks’ time, but I’m only concerned with Waterford, where we are and what we can do. We have two home games now and we need to get points on the board.
“It’s very much there for everyone – Tipperary will be coming to Walsh Park next week now with two games won.”
Brian Cody was happy to be finally off the mark in the league.
“We were without any points starting off so to have any interest in winning the League, we had to win today. We did and for a long time it looked like were going to find it very, very difficult to win.
“Waterford were playing very well. There was never much in it. There was a bit of a breeze alright but there was never much in the game. We kept in touch and again, goals matter so much.
“We had been conceding them and we didn’t concede any today and we got a couple so we came out on the right side of it.”
The news of his corner backs isn’t so good: “Both hamstrings, unfortunately. Jackie [Tyrrell] isn’t too bad. Paul [Murphy] doesn’t look great. It could be a thing that will keep him quiet for four or five weeks.
“Hopefully not, but that’s what it looks like at the moment. We’re not having a great run with injuries.”
Scorers for Kilkenny: E Larkin 0-6 (0-5fs), G Aylward and M Ruth 1-1 each, A Fogarty 0-3, R Hogan 0-2, C Fennelly, L Ryan 0-1 each.
Scorers for Waterford: P Mahony 0-6 (0-5fs), J Dillon 0-3 (0-1 sl), O’Sullivan 0-2, M Shanahan, S O’Keeffe (f), S Walsh, K Moran and B OHalloran 0-1 each.
Subs for Kilkenny: P Walsh for Tyrrell (24), M Ruth for Bergin (ht), W Phelan for P Murphy (44).
Subs for Waterford: J Barron for B O’Sullivan (44), M Shanahan for S Walsh (57), R Barry for K Moran (63).
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved