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ALL-IRELAND CHAMPIONS Kilkenny and league champions Waterford met in the first of this year’s hurling semi-finals.

Who would be coming back to Croke Park on the first Sunday of September?

Tweet us @The42GAA, find us on Facebook, send your emails to niall@the42.ie or leave a comment below.

Good afternoon and welcome to Croke Park where we’re getting set for the first of this year’s All-Ireland hurling semi-finals.

Kilkenny and Waterford go head-to-head — but only one can return here on the first Sunday in September for a shot at Liam MacCarthy. Who will it be?

Throw-in is at 3.30pm.

Well, I say throw-in is at 3.30pm, but the minor semi-final between Galway and Kilkenny  has finished level after an absorbing 60 minutes so we’ll have extra-time.

It shouldn’t make any massive difference to the senior game but I’ll keep you posted.

Actually, now that I double-check my match programme, the senior game will be pushed back 15 minutes and throw in at 3.45pm.

If you’re not here with us in Croker, I’d advise you to stick on TG4 and watch the end of this minor game.

TEAM NEWS: Here’s a quick reminder of the Kilkenny team as named on Friday evening. No Jackie Tyrrell or Richie Power but Michael Fennelly is named in midfield.

Kilkenny

1. Eoin Murphy (Glenmore)

2. Paul Murphy (Danesfort)
3. Joey Holden (Ballyhale Shamrocks)
4. Shane Prendergast (Clara)

5. Padraig Walsh (Tullaroan)
6. Kieran Joyce (Rower Inistioge)
7. Cillian Buckley (Dicksboro)

8. Michael Fennelly (Ballyhale Shamrocks)
9. Conor Fogarty (Erins Own)

10. Walter Walsh (Tullogher Rosbercon)
11. Richie Hogan (Danesfort)
12. TJ Reid (Ballyhale Shamrocks)

13. Ger Aylward (Glenmore)
14. Colin Fennelly (Ballyhale Shamrocks)
15. Eoin Larkin (James Stephens)

TEAM NEWS: Waterford are unchanged from their win over Dublin last month.

Waterford

1. Stephen O’Keeffe (Ballygunner)

2. Shane Fives (Tourin)
3. Barry Coughlan (Ballygunner)
4. Noel Connors (Passage)

5. Tadhg de Búrca (Clashmore Kinsalebeg)
6. Austin Gleeson (Mount Sion)
7. Philip Mahony (Ballygunner)

8. Jamie Barron (Fourmilewater)
17. Darragh Fives (Tourin)

10. Kevin Moran (De La Salle)
22. Shane Bennett (Ballysaggart)
12. Jake Dillon (De La Salle)

21. Maurice Shanahan (Lismore)
14. Michael Walsh (Stradbally)
15. Colin Dunford (Colligan)

The problem that the Déise face now is the accuracy of Kilkenny’s long-range shooters.

Manager Derek McGrath will surely not allow Richie Hogan those pockets of space he loves to operate in.

And if Waterford deploy the sweeper in a deep-lying role, Kilkenny will feel confident of counteracting the impact of the spare man by hitting points from distance. A fascinating tactical battle lies in store.

If you’re not watching the minor game (Kilkenny are four up with four to play), and you’re in the market for some pre-match reading, here are Jackie Cahill’s six talking points >

Or, failing that, here’s Brendan Cummins’s pre-match column >

The biggest challenge facing these Waterford boys is belief.

In the Munster final, that belief fizzled out of them in the last six or seven minutes. They didn’t really believe that they could beat Tipperary.

Derek McGrath will have drilled this belief into his charges, that if they are to achieve anything, they’ll have to beat the big boys at Croke Park.

DRAMA IN THE MINOR GAME! Galway sub Cian Salmon has scored a goal and now Kilkenny’s lead is cut to one point with two minutes of extra-time to play.

ALL SQUARE! Evan Niland slots the free and there’ll just about be time for one last attack from either side.

Liam Forde points and Galway lead 2-20 to 0-25. Two additional minutes to be played…

Switch on TG4!

Andy Gaffney levels it with a free for Kilkenny. They can’t be split.

IT’S A DRAW! Andy Gaffney has a chance to win it with a monster free about 80 metres out and it drops wide.

They’ll have to do it all over again at a date and time TBC.

Ok, back to the real business of the afternoon. We’re 20 minutes away from throw-in in the first of this year’s All-Ireland hurling semis.

Who do you fancy?

You might remember that Shane Bennett was one of the heroes of Waterford’s win over Dublin.

He’s on the bench today, with brother Stephen preferred at centre-forward, but no doubt he’ll get his chance later on.

Here’s a nice little video having a look at the Bennett brothers:

Source: threeireland/YouTube

THREE CHANGES FOR WATERFORD

Darragh Fives, Maurice Shanahan and Shane Bennett all start —  Tom Devine, Stephen Bennett, and Brian O’Halloran are on the bench.

We’ve had the parade. We’ve had the anthem. We’re ready to go.

Flag

THROW IN: Brian Gavin gets us underway. Kilkenny will attack the Hill 16 end in this first half.

2 mins – The first roar of the afternoon goes up from the Waterford crowd as Shane Bennett tracks back and gets in a great hook on Richie Hogan.

2 mins — Waterford 0-1 Kilkenny 0-0: Maurice Shanahan gets in behind the Kilkenny defence and taps over the opening score.

4 mins — Waterford 0-1 Kilkenny 0-1: Eoin Larkin scraps for possession on the wing and it sets up TJ Reid who points Kilkenny’s opening score.

6 mins — Waterford 0-2 Kilkenny 0-1: Kieran Joyce is whistled for a foul on Brick Walsh just outside the 45m line. Shanahan splits the posts.

6 mins — Waterford 0-2 Kilkenny 0-2: Route one for Kilkenny as Eoin Murphy booms his puckout down on top of the half-forwards. Richie Hogan claims it, turns, and points.

8 mins — Waterford 0-3 Kilkenny 0-2: Austin Gleeson is some man for the sidelines. This is about 50m out on the Hogan Stand side, and he points it.

I’d say his golf game is something else.

9 mins – End-to-end stuff here with chances at both ends. Paul Murphy does brilliantly to dispossess Colin Dunford at one end, and when Kilkenny break, only a timely hook denies Eoin Larkin.

10 mins – Brian Gavin seems to be adopting a strictly hands-off approach to refereeing today. It looks a clear foul as Stephen O’Keeffe wraps his arms around Walter Walsh and hauls him down but the referee waves play on.

Source: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

13 mins — Waterford 0-3 Kilkenny 0-3: TJ Reid points a free to level things up.

14 mins – Walter Walsh twists and turns but his shot sails away to the left and wide.

15 mins – Padraig Walsh’s handpass is a touch too high for Michael Fennelly to gather but Kilkenny get away with the mistake as Austin Gleeson picks up possession but fires wide.

17 mins – Paul Murphy is proving to be a right miser in front of the Kilkenny goal. Kevin Walsh drops a ball in towards Shane Bennett but he’s outnumbered two to one and it’s Murphy who claims clean possession and comes away with it.

Flag

GOAL FOR KILKENNY! Kilkenny 1-3 Waterford 0-3 (Reid, 17′)

That’s calamitous defending by Waterford and it has gifted Kilkenny the game’s opening goal.

Barry Coughlan and Tadhg de Burca both go for the same ball and should comfortably be able to deal with it.

They don’t and TJ Reid takes full advantage, scooping it into his hand and burying it low across O’Keeffe.

Source: James Crombie/INPHO

20 mins — Kilkenny 1-4 Waterford 0-4: Maurice Shanahan points a big free but Kilkenny respond through Hogan at the other end.

22 mins — Kilkenny 1-4 Waterford 0-5: Maurice Shanahan adds a 65 to take his tally to 0-4.

23 mins — Kilkenny 1-5 Waterford 0-5: TJ Reid tacks on another free from the left to restore the three-point margin.

25 mins — Kilkenny 1-5 Waterford 0-6: Superb fielding by Austin Gleeson who picks the ball from above Richie Hogan’s head and then darts away with it on the end of his hurl.

He passes to Philip Mahony who is fouled, and Shanahan is bang on the money with the 70m free.

28 mins — Kilkenny 1-6 Waterford 0-6: Austin Gleeson is putting in tackles that Paul Scholes would be proud of. He loses his hurl in the act of blocking TJ Reid, and then slides in to stop Richie Hogan.

Great to watch but it’s a free, unfortunately, and Reid knocks it over.

29 mins — Kilkenny 1-6 Waterford 0-7: Waterford launch what looks to be an absolutely hopeless ball to their inside forwards, who are outnumbered five to two, but somehow it finds its way to Maurice Shanahan and he does what he’s been doing all afternoon and points.

30 mins — Kilkenny 1-7 Waterford 0-7: TJ mixes it up a bit and takes this free off his left. Same result.

32 mins — Kilkenny 1-7 Waterford 0-8: Shanahan free. Again.

33 mins — Kilkenny 1-7 Waterford 0-9: Austin Gleeson doesn’t need to be asked twice. He zips out from the half-back line with the ball and makes up 30 or 40 yards before pointing.

That’s one of the scores of the afternoon so far.

34 mins — Kilkenny 1-8 Waterford 0-9: TJ has another free out on the Cusack Stand side and takes full advantage.

Source: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

35 mins — Kilkenny 1-8 Waterford 0-10: That’s another well-taken score for the Déise. Gleeson is half hooked as he tries to get his shot away but Shane Bennett does really well to gather the loose ball, coming back inside Shane Prendergast before pointing from a tight angle.

35+2 mins — Kilkenny 1-9 Waterford 0-10: Another easy free for Reid. Kilkenny will lead by two at the break.

Kilkenny are first back out. Can the champions drive on and shake this determined Waterford challenge?

SECOND HALF: We’re off.

36 mins – Walter Walsh has a straightforward chance within 10 seconds of the restart but puts it right and wide.

37 mins — Kilkenny 1-10 Waterford 0-10: We start the second half as we finished the first, with a TJ Reid free.

38 mins — Kilkenny 1-11 Waterford 0-10: Kilkenny have plenty of bodies forward in attack and Colin Fennelly picks out Ger Aylward who points.

39 mins — Kilkenny 1-11 Waterford 0-11: If Waterford are to have any chance, they’ll need Maurice Shanahan to be as consistent as he has been with the dead balls. He points another free.

Source: Donall Farmer/INPHO

40 mins — Kilkenny 1-11 Waterford 0-12: Great score by Kevin Moran who scampers away from Michael Fennelly and drives back inside towards goal before flicking the ball over the bar.

41 mins — Kilkenny 1-13 Waterford 0-12: Two Waterford mistakes in the space of 60 seconds and Kilkenny punish both. First, Barry Coughlan clears straight to TJ Reid who points.

Then Stephen O’Keeffe drills a puck-out into Cillian Buckley’s hand and he returns it with interest.

42 mins — OOOOH! What a chance for Kilkenny! Reid drills the ball across the face of goal and it whistles by O’Keeffe’s post.

44 mins — Kilkenny 1-14 Waterford 0-12: Ger Aylward pounces on the loose ball in the half-forwards and bursts free before pointing. Easy.

45 mins — Kilkenny 1-14 Waterford 0-13: Colin Dunford is made to work for this score but he does, taking a few steps back from the crowd before pointing.

Waterford needed that after three unanswered points by the Cats. Four in it.

47 mins – Jamie Barron does brilliantly to gather possession in midfield but then asks a bit too much of himself with the shot. It drops short and Eoin Murphy shows safe hands again.

48 mins — Kilkenny 1-15 Waterford 0-13: All too easy for Eoin Larkin who rolls away from Austin Gleeson like he’s not even there, and composes himself before arrowing over a point.

50 mins – Darragh Fives launches another long ball down on top of Shanahan and Bennett but again, it’s meat and drink to the Kilkenny full-back line.

51 mins — Kilkenny 1-15 Waterford 0-14: Quick puckout to Shane Fives, Brick Walsh gets his hurl on the loose ball, and Dunford points.

52 mins — Kilkenny 1-15 Waterford 0-15: Dunford reels off his third in a row for Waterford. Three-point game!

52 mins — Kilkenny 1-16 Waterford 0-15: Waterford give away cheap ball as they try to play it out from the back and Richie Hogan doesn’t need to be asked twice.

Source: James Crombie/INPHO

54 mins — Kilkenny 1-17 Waterford 0-16: Michael Fennelly and Austin Gleeson trade points. Four in it with just over a quarter of an hour to play.

55 mins — Kilkenny 1-17 Waterford 0-17: De Burca drills a long free on top of the Kilkenny goal. Paul Murphy should clear but hits it straight to Colin Dunford, and he doesn’t need to be asked twice.

56 mins – What a chance for Ger Aylward! He looks to have the Waterford goal — and the game — at his mercy but O’Keeffe and his backs manage to force him wide and he can’t get the shot on target.

That was close!

59 mins – A bit too elaborate from Kilkenny when all they need is to take the point. Michael Fennelly runs into trouble and then Walter Walsh spills possession, allowing Waterford to swarm.

60 mins — Kilkenny 1-20 Waterford 0-17: Three points in quick succession for Kilkenny and that could be lights out on Waterford’s championship. Aylward points and then Richie Hogan follows it up with a rapid-fire double.

62 mins – Colin Dunford has done very little wrong so far in this second half but he’s just shot wide under pressure. Kilkenny still lead by six.

65 mins — Kilkenny 1-21 Waterford 0-17: Ger Aylward points to make it four unanswered  for the Cats.

66 mins — Kilkenny 1-21 Waterford 0-18: Maurice Shanahan taps over a free but it’s goals Waterford need at this stage.

69 mins – Two to play here in Croke Park. Kilkenny are on their way back to the All-Ireland final…

Source: Donall Farmer/INPHO

70 mins – There will be two additional minutes.

70+1 mins – Shanahan drops a free into the square but it’s batted wide.

That’s it — Kilkenny win by six and they’ll be back here on 6 September to defend their All-Ireland crown.

Will it be Tipperary or Galway trying to wrestle it from them? That’s the question now.

Thanks for reading this afternoon. We’ll have plenty more reaction and analysis over the course of the evening.

About the author:

Niall Kelly

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