BY NIALL SHERRY
Drennan & Donnelly impress in 2-point win
Allianz National Hurling League Division 1B
Round 5, UPMC Nowlan Park
Kilkenny 0-18 Waterford 0-16
Derek Lyng’s side navigated their way to a semi-final National League clash with Cork this weekend, following a hard-fought win over Waterford at UPMC Nowlan Park last Sunday. The weather was not conducive to a fine hurling spectacle and the whole match was a little anti-climactic.
Both sides held 3-point leads at various stages of the game, but it would be late points from substitutes Shane Walsh and Alan Murphy that saw the Cats home by two at the long whistle.
As has been the case throughout this seasons Allianz League campaign, Galmoy’s Billy Drennan has been the player tasked with keeping the scoreboard ticking over and this was once again evident at a grey and wet UPMC Nowlan Park, as the talented young attacker finished the game with 0-10 to his name, including an impressive 9 from 9 from placed balls as the home side edged the tussle.
The Kilkenny team that took to the field showed a few changes from the programme, with Darragh Corcoran, Gearoid Dunne and David Blanchfield starting in place of Richie Reid, Paddy Mullen and Cillian Buckley respectively. This inevitably led to some positional tweaks across the pitch.
Billy Drennan got the scoreboard moving inside two minutes as he nailed his first free of a wet afternoon. SETU Waterford student Jack Prendergast drew the visitors level after 5 minutes with a well-taken point, before Drennan tagged on another placed ball some three minutes later. Patrick Curran struck over the first free for Davy Fitzgerald’s team to square things up after 11 minutes of a damp squib.
Captain Eoin Cody then struck Kilkenny’s first point of the day from play and the home side found themselves 2-points ahead shortly afterwards, thanks to another accurate free from the deadly Drennan. The Deise hit back immediately with a fine point from play via Colligan’s Colin Dunford, but Billy Drennan kept his side in command with two more well-struck placed balls to leave the Noresiders 6-3 up after 20 minutes.
Abbeyside midfielder Neil Montgomery fired over a decent score before Dungarvan’s Patrick Curran rifled over a placed ball to reduce the Kilkenny lead to the bare minimum after 25 minutes. Thomastown’s John Donnelly, who was getting through a mountain of work, then struck a lovely point before Lyng’s charges built on their lead, thanks to points from Shamrocks Darragh Corcoran and Tullaroan’s Mossy Keoghan.
Kilrossanty’s Padraig Fitzgerald then struck a brace of free’s to leave The Deise just one point behind at the short whistle, Kilkenny 0-8, Waterford 0-7. In truth, had their shooting have been better, then would have certainly been in the lead, leaving 8 behind them in the opening period would cost them at the final whistle.
Derek Lyng made one change during the interval, with Glenmore’s Alan Murphy replacing James Stephen’s Cian Kenny.
Waterford started the second half brightly, and registered the first point after the break, thanks to a point from captain and centre-back Tadhg de Búrca. Galmoy’s Drennan fired over his 6th point of the game to edge the home side ahead, but Davy’s men then hit a little bit of a purple patch with Padraig Fitzgerald popping over a free, before three more scores on the bounce from Tom Barron, Neil Montgomery and a further free from Padraig Fitzgerald saw The Deise hold a 3-point lead after ten minutes of second-half action.
Kilkenny had replaced Graigue Ballycallan’s Billy Ryan with Dicksboro’s Timmy Clifford as Derek Lyng looked for a response from his team. The manager certainly got a positive response from his charges as they reeled off the next three scores.
Erin’s Own clubman Conor Fogarty then fired over a lovely point, before Billy Drennan struck a sweet point from play. Tullaroan’s Gearoid Dunne then got on the scoresheet with a fine point to bring the sides level at the midway point of the second half.
Waterford then notched the next two scores of the day, another free from Padraig Fitzgerald and one from play via Fourmilewater’s Tom Barron. Billy Drennan continued his free-taking masterclass with two more well-struck efforts to tie matters up once again before Gearoid Dunne was replaced by fellow Sash star, Shane Walsh. Walsh’s impact was instant and hugely important as he rifled over a fine point as the black and amber men re-took the lead.
Drennan then struck his 9th point of the day to nudge the Cats 2 points ahead. Mossy Keoghan then almost raised a green flag for the Cats, but he just failed to direct the sliotar inside the post after latching onto a breaking high ball into the mixer.
Free-taker Drennan then got his final score of the game, to bring his personal tally to 0-10, before Waterford hit two late, late strikes from Padraig Fitzgerald and Colin Dunford to make for a nervy ending for the Kilkenny faithful, but the last score of the game would come from Glenmore’s Alan Murphy showed superb skill and composure before firing over from out on the left to ensure the home side claimed maximum points and progressed to a semi-final meeting with Pat Ryan’s Cork side.
Final score from UPMC Nowlan Park, Kilkenny 0-18 Waterford 0-16.
Kilkenny Scorers: B. Drennan (0-10, 9 frees); M. Keoghan, J Donnelly, D. Corcoran, C. Fogarty, G. Dunne, E. Cody, S. Walsh, A. Murphy (0-1 each).
Waterford Scorers: Paudie Fitzgerald (0-6, frees); N. Montgomery, T. Barron, C. Dunford (0-2 each); J. Prendergast, P. Curran, T. de Búrca (free), Patrick Fitzgerald (0-1 each).
KILKENNY: D. Brennan; P. Walsh, C. Delaney, T. Walsh; D. Corcoran, P. Deegan, D. Blanchfield; C. Fogarty, C. Kenny; J. Donnelly, E. Cody (c), B. Ryan; G. Dunne, M. Keoghan, B. Drennan.
Subs: A. Murphy for C. Kenny (h-t); T. Clifford for B. Ryan (43); S. Walsh for G. Dunne (59); T. Phelan for M. Keoghan (68); R. Corcoran for E. Cody (70).
WATERFORD: B. Nolan; C. Ryan, M. Fitzgerald, I. Daly; T. de Búrca (c); J. Fagan, C. Lyons, C. Daly; T. Barron, N. Montgomery; P. Fitzgerald (Kilrossanty), P. Curran, C. Dunford; D. Hutchinson, J. Prendergast.
Subs: P. Fitzgerald (Ballygunner) for P. Curran (49); P. Leavey for I. Daly (60); K. Mahony for P. Fitzgerald (Kilrossanty) (69); D.J. Foran for C. Dunford (70+1).
Referee: L. Gordon (Galway).
>> SHERRY SAYS…
We only needed a draw to ensure progression to the league semi-final, but winning is a good habit to get into, and the Cats got their 4th win of this seasons Allianz campaign, thanks to a 2-point win over The Deise.
Conditions at UPMC Nowlan park mirrored the action, a little bit of a damp squib. I’d say the players would have had aching legs and muscles after this encounter.
Again, Billy Drennan led the way and didn’t disappoint, finishing the day with 0-10, and more importantly the Galmoy player had 100% accuracy from his placed ball efforts. A little quieter from play than in previous games, but Drennan keeps the score board ticking over.
Darren Brennan didn’t have much to do across the 70-odd minutes as the Waterford attack was pretty wasteful at times.
We didn’t have Eoin Murphy or Richie Reid on duty, due to concussion protocols following the recent win over Dublin, but hopefully both will be available for the clash with Cork this weekend.
John Donnelly was impressive across the park in the Waterford victory and the Thomastown man was named MOTM by the broadcaster.
Cork will be a difficult challenge, and you get the feeling that Derek Lyng will find out exactly where his panel is as the Cats build towards championship.