Wasteful Waterford battle their way to well-earned victory over out-of-sorts Kilkenny
Waterford made a super start to the defence of their Allianz League Division 1 hurling title when they out-pointed All-Ireland champions, Kilkenny in Walsh Park.
Played in very heavy conditions, it was a real slog all the way, with the ball regularly getting stuck in the ground, leading to untidy tangles.
Waterford appeared to enjoy the gruelling grind, especially in the second half when they restricted Kilkenny to four points, two of which came in the opening five minutes.
The Cats didn’t score again for 20 minutes, by which time Waterford had popped over three points. It left Kilkenny facing a two-point deficit but they managed just one more point, while the home side added another three
Waterford shot 18 wides to Kilkenny’s six but the Deise got away with their wastefulness on this occasion, thanks mainly to their defensive doggedness, which tied down the Kilkenny attack. Kilkenny finished with 14 men after Colin Fennelly’s dismissal on a second yellow card in the 65th minute
Waterford led by 0-8 to 0-6 at half-time but their lead should have been far more substantial as they shot no fewer than 11 wides with the wind. Maurice Shanahan and Austin Gleeson were uncharacteristically wayward with each missing the target four times.
Three of Shanahan’s misses were from frees while Gleeson missed once from a placed ball. It led to a change of free-taker late on, with Patrick Curran shooting the last point of the half.
Waterford raced into a three-point lead in the opening seven minutes before Kilkenny gradually forced they way into the game.
They drew level in the 11th minute with an excellent point by Padraig Walsh off a well-placed delivery from a free by Kieran Joyce. TJ Reid landed three points from frees in the first half but also missed from two more long-range efforts.
However, he was striking into the wind, making it much more difficult than than the challenge faced by Shanahan and Gleeson at the other end.
Kilkenny led by a point after 27 minutes but Waterford finished the half well, picking off three points from Shanahan, Stephen Bennett who might have had a goal, and Curran.
Scorers: Waterford: M Shanahan (1f), P Curran (1f), S Bennett (2f) 0-3 each, C Dunford, J Dillon 0-2 each, A Gleeson 0-1.
Kilkenny: TJ Reid 0-7, P Walsh,C Fennelly, R Hogan 0-1 each.
Waterford: S O’Keeffe; S Fives, B Coughlan, N Connors, A Gleeson, D Fives, P Mahony, J Barron, C Dunford; K Moran, S Bennett, M Walsh; P Curran, M Shanahan, J Dillon.
Sub: B O’Halloran for Curran (66).
Kilkenny: E Murphy; P Murphy, J Holden, S Prendergast; P Walsh, K Joyce, D Cody; C Buckley, C Fogarty; W Walsh, R Hogan, TJ Reid; J Farrell, C Fennelly, M Kelly.
Sub: J Maher for Kelly (48).
Referee: A Kelly (Galway)