Cats survive on night of pure drama
Kilkenny endured a night of pure drama to advance to the All-Ireland quarter-finals in two weeks time after a 1-22 to 2-16 win over Waterford in Thurles after extra time.
Two stunning points from Waterford's Kevin Moran at the end of normal tiem brought the sides level but there was a unique moment of controversy as ref James Owens blew the final whistle just as Matthew Ruth slotted over what the thought was the winner.
Extra-time was played and Kilkenny looked to be strolling but two Waterford goals meant the sidse were level with minutes remaining but the Cats showed why they are the greatest side of the modern era by scoring the last three points of the game to secure the win.
It wasn't a vintage game but it was packed with drama with Kilkenny doing well to survive as they looked jaded in their fourth successive week of championship action.
Richie Foley opened the scoring with a fine score from play for Waterford and Brian O’Sullivan was on target for the Deise who started brightly.
Darragh Fives gave them a three point lead with a superb point from distance.
Colin Fennelly finally added Kilkenny’s first point in the 12th minute after a loose puckout from Stephen O’Keeffe.
Richie Hogan and Jamie Barron swapped points as Michael Ryan’s men kept their noses in front.
The impressive Daragh Fives and Richie Power exchanged scores before Power’s second point reduced the arrears to a solitary point.
The game was lacking any real spark and was being played at a pretty pedestrian pace.
Colin Fennelly forced a tremendous save out of O’Keeffe who knocked the sliotar over the bar expertly and the sides were level.
Eoin Larkin’s free after 28 minutes put Kilkenny ahead for the first time but Jake Dillon cancelled it out to level matters once more.
Aidan Fogarty was dragged down for a penalty just before the break and Richie Power’s shot hit the stanchion behind the goal line and after deliberation the goal was rightly awarded and teh Cats led by 1-6 to 0-6 at the break.
Richie Power made it 1-3 for the day with the first point of the second half and then the Cats got the boost of Henry Shefflin’s emergence from the bench and into the game.
Waterford responded with points from Daragh Fives and Kevin Moran before Aidan Fogarty restored Kilkenny’s three-point advantage.
Seamus Prendergast put some wayward shooting to raise a white flag but this was cancelled out by a booming free from Richie Power.
Waterford wasted a number of gilt-edged chances and Kilkenny punished them with points from Power and Larkin to make it 1-11 to 0-9 after 56 minutes.
Both sides traded points once more. Points from Maurice Shanahan and Ray Barry made it a three point game with just over three minutes to go.
Ray Barry hit his third point with 90 seconds of normal time to go and Waterford were back to within two.
An incredible score from the midfield from Kevin Moran made it 1-12 to 0-14 as the clock struck 70 and in the second minute of injury time he levelled it.
There was an incredible finish to the game as ref James Owens blew for full-time just as Matthew Ruth pucked the ball over.
The point didn’t stand and the game went to extra-time. There was 72:10 on the clock when the ball was pucked.
Henry Shefflin was recalled to the bench and Lester Ryan’s fresh legs were introduced.
Richie Hogan put Kilkenny back in front within 30 seconds of the game resuming and they made it five unanswered points with Lester Ryan, Colin Fennelly, Eoin Larkin and Hogan scoring.
Nothing was going right for the Deise but just before the end of the first half of extra time the ball broke fortuitously for Jake Dillon to find the net and it was 1-17 to 1-15 with 10 minutes remaining.
The second period of extra-time began as the first did with Kilkenny firing over and he scored again two minutes later to ease Kilkenny nerves.
Jamie Nagle hit a huge free for Waterford to keep their slim chances alive.
Maurice Shanahan earned a 20 metre free with four minutes to go, his shot was saved but the rebound fell for Ray Barry who rifled to the net.
Parity only lasted 30 seconds as Colin Fennelly put the Cats back in front and further points from Matthew Ruth and Aidan Fogarty.
Matthew Ruth forced Stephen O’Keeffe into a mesmerising save in the dying seconds and Kilkenny won though to the All-Ireland quarter-finals.