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Cats cling on to advance to another All-Ireland final after epic Déise battle

Colin Fennelly scored two first-half goals for Kilkenny who had just enough to see off Waterford at the second time of asking.

Image: Ken Sutton/INPHO

Kilkenny 2-19
Waterford 2-17

Fintan O’Toole reports from Semple Stadium

THREE YEARS AGO Kilkenny saw off Waterford after extra-time in a titanic qualifier tussle in Semple Stadium.

They didn’t need the additional period tonight at the Thurles venue to repeat that victory but were still forced to sweat nervously in a dramatic finale before triumphing and advancing to next month’s All-Ireland final.

This semi-final hung on a knife edge when defender Shane Fives won an injury-time free for Waterford. Pauric Mahony’s attempt to nail a levelling score was foiled by Kilkenny goalkeeper Eoin Murphy who leaped to catch the ball above his crossbar.

Moments later Richie Hogan swept over a point from distance and ensured Brian Cody’s side are on still on course for a tilt at landing the three-in-a-row on 4 September.

Replays may often transpire to be damp squibs but this match touched the heights that the drawn game had reached last Sunday.

On this occasion Kilkenny availed of the second chance handed to them after digging out a draw in Croke Park.

They produced an enhanced display and despite all the wonderful qualities that Waterford brought to the table, the outcome was heartbreaking for Derek McGrath’s side as their wait for a first championship win over the Cats since 1959 goes on.

The game opened in pulsating fashion with three goals cracked home in the first 10 minutes.

Austin Gleeson gave Waterford a shot of early energy when he dispatched a shot past Eoin Murphy in the 4th minute. The score owed much to the graft of Michael Walsh who seized on Cillian Buckley’s miscontrol before releasing Gleeson.

But then Colin Fennelly and Walter Walsh burst on to centre stage with some deadly combination play. Walsh arrowed a cross-field ball in the 7th minute that allowed Fennelly to swivel before rocketing a shot past Stephen O’Keeffe.

Three minutes later they dovetailed again, this time Walsh soloing clear before offloading and Fennelly ensured a similar outcome with a decisive finish as Kilkenny went 2-1 to 1-1 clear.

Waterford’s response was telling and impressive. They outscored Kilkenny by 1-4 to 0-1 over the next 11 minutes of play.

Jamie Barron and Shane Bennett split the posts with fine scores but the centrepiece was in the 20th minute, as Jake Dillon smashed a shot to the roof of the net after Stephen Bennett’s creativity prised apart the Kilkenny rearguard.

Kilkenny stitched together a powerful finish to the first half though with three points in succession courtesy of TJ Reid, Michael Fennelly and Walsh enabling them to enjoy a 2-10 to 2-7 advantage at the break.

In the second-half Kilkenny upped the ante again as they surged 2-14 to 2-9 clear in the 44th minute when Reid arrowed over a free.

But Waterford were brave and courageous. They never caved and after Richie Hogan pointed in the 53rd minute to send Kilkenny 2-16 to 2-13 clear, they endured a scoring drought for 18 minutes.

In that time frame Waterford gradually drew Kilkenny in with a pair of Pauric Mahony frees shaving the deficit before Jamie Barron’s superb ingenuity saw him wriggle clear to loft over a levelling point in the 69th minute.

The prospect of extra-time or a major Waterford breakthrough was in the offing yet in the final analysis it was Kilkenny who got the job done.

 

Scorers for Kilkenny: TJ Reid 0-7 (0-6f), Colin Fennelly 2-0, Richie Hogan 0-4, Liam Blanchfield 0-3, Padraig Walsh 0-2, Michael Fennelly, Walter Walsh, Eoin Larkin 0-1 each.

Scorers for Waterford: Pauric Mahony 0-9 (0-7f), Austin Gleeson 1-2, Jake Dillon 1-0, Jamie Barron, Shane Bennett, Maurice Shanahan 0-2 each.

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Kilkenny

1. Eoin Murphy (Glenmore)
2. Paul Murphy (Danesfort)
3. Joey Holden (Ballyhale Shamrocks)
4. Shane Prendergast (Clara)
5. Padraig Walsh (Tullaroan)
8. Conor Fogarty (Erins Own)
7. Cillian Buckley (Dicksboro)
9. Michael Fennelly (Ballyhale Shamrocks)
15. Richie Hogan (Danesfort)
10. Walter Walsh (Tullogher-Rosbercon)
11. TJ Reid (Ballyhale Shamrocks)
21. Eoin Larkin (James Stephens)
24. Mark Bergin (O’Loughlin Gaels)
14. Colin Fennelly (Ballyhale Shamrocks)
25. Liam Blanchfield (Bennettsbridge)

Subs:

20. Lester Ryan (Clara) for Michael Fennelly (inj) (59)
13. Jonjo Farrell (Thomastown) for Bergin (60)
12. John Power (Carrickshock) for Walter Walsh (blood) (61)
30. Walter Walsh for Power (66)
23. Kevin Kelly (St Patrick’s) for Blanchfield (inj) (72)

Waterford

1. Stephen O’Keeffe (Ballygunner)
4. Noel Connors (Passage)
3. Barry Coughlan (Ballygunner)
2. Shane Fives (Tourin)
7. Philip Mahony
5. Tadhg de Búrca (Clashmore-Kinsalebeg)
17. Conor Gleeson (Fourmilewater)
8. Jamie Barron (Fourmilewater)
10. Kevin Moran (De La Salle)
12. Michael Walsh (Stradbally)
6. Austin Gleeson (Mount Sion)
20. Pauric Mahony (Ballygunner)
24. Stephen Bennett (Ballysaggart)
11. Shane Bennett (Ballysaggart)
14. Jake Dillon (De La Salle)

Subs:

21. Maurice Shanahan (Lismore) for Stephen Bennett (47)
13. Patrick Curran (Dungarvan) for Shane Bennett (54)
22. Tom Devine (Modeligo) for Dillon (61)

Referee: James McGrath (Westmeath)

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About the author:

Fintan O'Toole

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