WATERFORD 0-20 KERRY 1-9 FOR much of this Guinness Munster SHC first round game at Austin Stack Park in Tralee, it looked as if the nightmare of 1993 might come back to haunt Waterford.
Kerry, who trailed by five points at half-time after playing with a strong breeze, staged a wonderful second half recovery to draw level with just 12 minutes remaining and the initiative lay firmly with them.
However, they were unable to follow up their good work this time, as they had done five years previously in Walsh Park in Waterford, and it was the Decies men who edged out for a victory that will hardly inspire confidence for their semi-final clash with Tipperary in Páirc Uí Chaoimh on Sunday week.
Just 4,106 spectators turned up for the game, most of them from Waterford, and the Kerry fans who stayed away, believing that it would be a cake walk, missed a game of high tension and drama.
The outcome looked predictable enough when Waterford held their five point interval lead (0-9 to 0-4), but the introduction of substitutes John Mike Dooley and Tom O'Connell transformed the Kerry attack.
Veterans Christy Walsh and Richard Gentleman also began to outplay Waterford's Tony Browne and Peter Queally at midfield. Gentleman missed a good goal chance two minutes into the second half, but John Mike Dooley made no such a mistake four minutes later when he grabbed a handpass from Tom O'Connell and kicked the ball to the net.
Waterford responded with a Paul Flynn point but Kerry were now fired up and only a brilliant save by Waterford 'keeper, Brendan Landers, prevented a goal in the 46th minute. Waterford, who had lost control of the game, were glad of a pointed free by Paul Flynn in the 52nd minute, but the margin was back to a point again in the 53rd minute when Michael Slattery pointed.
With 12 minutes left, the rhythm was gone from Waterford's play and Kerry, who had drawn level, should have taken the lead in the 61th minute when Gentleman saw his shot go narrowly wide.
Waterford supporters could scarcely believe it. However, just when it all appeared to be slipping away from them, Gerald McCarthy's men managed to come out of the trenches and take the fight to Kerry. A series of points from Anthony Kirwan, Dan Shanahan, Paul Flynn, Tony Brown and Michael White secured a hard-earned win.
SCORERS Waterford: D Shanahan, P Flynn 0-6 each. K McGrath 0-3, T Brown 0-2, D Bennett, A Kirwan, M White 0-1 each. Kerry: B O Sullivan 0-4, JM Dooley 1-0, R Gentleman and M Slattery 0-2 each. T Maunsell 0-1.
WATERFORD B Landers, 8; T Feeney 6, S Cullinane 7, B Flannery 6; S Frampton 6, F Hartley 5, B Green 6; T Brown 7, P Queally 6; D Shanahan 9, K McGrath 7, D Bennett 7; B O Sullivan 5, A Kirwan 6, P Flynn 6. Subs: M White for Billy O Sullivan (44min), S Daly for Dave Bennett (59min).
KERRY J Healy 8; T Cronin 7, S McIntyre 7, I Brick 8; P Cronin 7, M McCarthy 7, W J Leen 6; B O Sullivan 6, R Gentleman 8; P Cronin 7, C Walsh 8, T Maunsell 7; V Dooley 5, I Maunsell 5, M Slattery 7. Subs: JM Dooley 8 for I Maunsell (half-time), T O Connell 7 for V Dooley (half-time), M O'Regan for Gentleman (inj 71min).
REF S McMahon (Clare)