Déise discover extra strength to signal end to Cats' summer
Waterford 4-23 Kilkenny 2-22 - Semple Stadium
Finally, at the 11th attempt, and for the first time since the 1959 All-Ireland final replay, Waterford have beaten Kilkenny in championship hurling.
Last night at the spiritual home of hurling, Derek McGrath's side made no mistake, though they were taken to extra-time by a gallant Kilkenny side who came from eight points down deep in the final quarter to level the tie, helped by a controversial goal from TJ Reid, who top-scored with 2-12.
But goals from the brilliant Jamie Barron and substitute Maurice Shanahan in either half of extra-time sealed a famous win for McGrath's side who are now through to the last six in the All-Ireland series.
So for only the second time in Brian Cody's 19th season in charge, Kilkenny won't feature in championship hurling in Croke Park in August. They could have few complaints about the outcome - though they went down fighting.
Waterford looked the better side in the early exchanges and by the 20th minute it was 0-6 to 0-2 in favour of the Déise. TJ Reid had squandered two scoreable frees at the other end but the big talking point was a confrontation between Cody and the fourth official Justin Heffernan. The Kilkenny boss made physical contact with the sideline official after he was pushed away by Heffernan but then Cody quickly backed off. Waterford turned the screw further with a monster point from Austin Gleeson and another from the very influential Jake Dillon.
It was 0-9 to 0-4 coming up to the break but then in typical Kilkenny fashion, they struck. In his first significant contribution, Colin Fennelly broke several tackles as he raced through the centre before offloading to Richie Hogan who was pulled down. Even though Stephen O'Keeffe got his stick to TJ Reid's penalty, it flew into the corner of the net.
The margin was down to two points but Waterford's response was emphatic as they outscored the Cats 1-1 to 0-1 during the remainder of the half. Robert Lennon - who had been yellow-carded earlier - was fortunate to stay on the field after he threw his hurley at Gleeson as he hit his second point from play.
Then deep in injury time, Waterford's most fluid movement of the half yielded a goal. Philip Mahony and Tadhg De Búrca were involved in the initial move before Shane Bennett won the latter's long delivery. He was fouled by Paul Murphy but the referee played an advantage and Bennett found 'Brick' Walsh who dispatched to the net to leave the Waterford 1-10 to 1-5 ahead at the break.
Having conceded three points on the spin on the resumption, Waterford finally opened their second half account in the 46th minute with a Barron point and then the inspirational Gleeson hit two monster scores over the bar. Reid converted a free but the momentum was now with Waterford and 'Brick' Walsh laid on a peach of a pass to Shane Bennett who blasted to the net from 20 metres after 52 minute.
Kevin Moran, who had won his individual battle with Michael Fennelly, pointed immediately afterwards to put Waterford eight clear.
In a last throw of the dice Kilkenny sent on U-21 star Richie Leahy with seven minutes left - he replaced the out-of-form Richie Hogan. Waterford pulled even more bodies behind the ball but they were living dangerously and paid the price, though they will wonder for a long time how the referee allowed the goal as Colin Fennelly appeared to clearly barge inside the square before Reid got it over the line. Aylward and Leahy added points to leave the minimum between the sides at the end of normal time.
In the third minute of injury time Colin Fennelly completed the Kilkenny comeback with the equalising point but Waterford still had a chance to win it at the death when they were awarded a free near the sideline on the 65m line.
But they had just withdrawn their free-taker Pauric Mahony and substitute Shanahan was well wide with his effort. Significantly, Kilkenny had outscored their opponents 1-5 to no score in the last 17 minutes of play. But the controversial goal changed everything, though the 0-4 from the subs' bench in normal time was critical as well.
Barron was the most influential on the park in the first half of extra-time, scoring 1-2 from play - the goal came from a superb pass from Gleeson who had faded out of the contest. Waterford were back in the driving seat - leading by four (3-19 to 2-18) at the break as the floodlights lit up the sky over Semple Stadium.
It was a six-point game by the 83rd minute when substitute Shanahan did brilliantly to muscle his way pass a couple of defenders and score a goal which was a carbon copy of the one his brother Dan scored in extra-time to win the Munster final in 2010. This time they held out with late points from Shanahan and substitute Tommy Ryan to end a truly epic contest.
Scorers - Waterford: Pauric Mahony 0-6 (5fs, 1 65), J Barron, M Shanahan (0-3fs) 1-3 each, A Gleeson 0-5, Shane Bennett, M Walsh 1-0 each, T Ryan, K Moran 0-2 each, J Dillon, P Curran 0-1 each. Kilkenny: TJ Reid 2-12 (1-0 pen, 0-10fs, 0-1 65), L Ryan 0-3, R Leahy 0-2, K Kelly, E Murphy (f), G Aylward, R Hogan, C Fennelly all 0-1 each.
Waterford: S O'Keeffe; N Connors, B Coughlan, C Gleeson; S Fives, T De Búrca, Philip Mahony; J Barron, K Moran; M Walsh, A Gleeson, Pauric Mahony; Shane Bennett, J Dillon, D Fives. Subs: S McNulty for Connor (44-49 blood), P Curran for Dillon (48), Stephen Bennett for Shane Bennett (61), M Shanahan for Walsh (69), B O'Halloran for Pauric Mahony (74), T Ryan for Stephen Bennett (79), C Dunford for Curran (85), McNulty for Connors (86)
Kilkenny: E Murphy; P Murphy, P Walsh, J Lyng; C Fogarty, R Lennon, C Buckley; M Fennelly, P Deegan; TJ Reid, W Walsh, C Fennelly; R Hogan, JJ Farrell, K Kelly. Subs: G Aylward for Farrell (h-t), L Ryan for Deegan (h-t), C Bolger for Kelly (48), R Leahy for Hogan (63), L Blanchfield for M Fennelly (73), R Hogan for Aylward (85).
Referee: J Owens (Wexford)
Sunday Indo Sport