BY NIALL SHERRY
ALL PIX: DANNY LAHART
Semi-final battle set for Pairc Uí Chaoimh
Allianz National Hurling Division 1 – Group B
UPMC Nowlan Park
An impressive 6-point win over the Deise, saw Kilkenny claim a semi-final berth in this year’s Allianz National Hurling League. The winning margin didn’t flatter the home side, who were full value for their win at UPMC Nowlan Park.
The small matter of a trip to Leeside to face Cork now awaits Brian Cody’s men tomorrow evening.
Waterford rolled into town knowing that they had one foot in the last four, but the early exchanges showed that neither of these sides wanted to taste defeat. Goals win games, as the Marble County’s two majors proved the difference between the teams at the final whistle.
Although Glenmore’s Alan Murphy opening the scoring in the first minute from the placed ball, following a foul on David Blanchfield, it would be Liam Cahill’s team that bossed the opening quarter. Abbeyside’s Michael Kiely levelled matters before Ballygunner’s Pauric Mahony struck his first free of the day.
With five minutes on the clock, a lovely cross field ball from Mossy Keoghan picked out Walter Walsh in space, and the Tullogher Rosbercon man split the posts with a nice point.
The visitors then stepped on the gas and hit four unanswered points, first up was Pauric Mahony who popped over his second free of the day, before Austin Gleeson struck a monster of a score from way out the pitch. Another of the Ballygunner boys, Dessie Hutchinson then took a great catch before turning his marker and firing over a fine point. The final point of this burst came from wing-forward Neil Montgomery, as the Deise opened up a 4-point lead by the 9th minute.
The home side responded with a fine score of their own via Walter. Nice work by Padraig Walsh saw him find Walter out on the right, and the No.10 duly fired over to the delight of the home supporters. Dungarvan’s Darragh Lyons then rifled over a fine point from half-way, before the visitors created a goal chance, following fine play from Pauric Mahony, the ball was popped to Austin Gleeson, who struck his shot across Eoin Murphy’s goal behind and wide.
The impressive David Blanchfield then burst out of defence, before slipping a pass to Padraig Walsh and the Tullaroan man struck a lovely point from way out on the right touchline on 16 minutes. Waterford hit back straight away when Adrian Mullen switched off and his marker, Jack Fegan fired over after picking up a loose ball. Bennettsbridge man Blanchfield then powered forward and again laid the ball off to Padraig Walsh who made no mistake and hit Kilkenny’s fifth point of the game.
Some great defensive work by Mikey Butler and Cian Kenny saw Dessie Hutchinson blown-up for over-carrying. Kenny in particular, was like a man possessed, he lost his hurl, but continued to harry and harass. Alan Murphy then pointed from the placed ball to reduce the Deise lead to just 2 points.
Challenges were going in from both sides, on and off the ball, lots of little niggles, as both counties flexed their muscle. The best example of this came in the 23rd minute when Walter Walsh shouldered Waterford’s Conor Dalton over the sideline. A good hard fair shoulder, one of those challenges that’s as good as a score. To Dalton’s credit he got to feet quickly, but did require medical attention to ensure he got the wind back in his sails. Waterford continued to keep the score board ticking over with further points from Pauric Mahony and Neil Montgomery, to leave the away team 3 points up.
Kilkenny then registered their first major of the game on 26 minutes. The goal was well worked and a great example of how this version of Cody’s Cats are evolving. Mossy Keoghan passed to Padraig Walsh, who found the supporting David Blanchfield, who played the killer pass to Dicksboro’s Cillian Buckley. The No.9 fired his shot across Billy Nolan in the Waterford goal and to it nestled in the corner of the net. The game was now tied, as the black & amber Gaels found their voices and urged their team to power on.
Waterford appeared rattled, and midfielder Darragh Lyons was booked for a high challenge on James Stephens man Cian Kenny. Goal scorer Cillian Buckley then took possession and passed to Adrian Mullen who fired over a lovely point from over his left shoulder to give Kilkenny the lead for the first time in ages. Mullen and Billy Ryan then forced Waterford into conceding a free, which the accurate Alan Murphy slotted over. Colligan’s Colin Dunford then hit the Deise’s first score in a while, following a nice run. The final score of the first half came from Alan Murphy, who struck a long-range free from deep inside his own half to leave the score board reading Kilkenny 1-10, Waterford 0-11.
When play resumed in the second half, Kilkenny struck first with a fine point from Graigue-Ballycallan’s Billy Ryan after just 22 seconds. Walter Walsh, who was getting through lots of work all over the pitch, then hit his third point of the day, as the towering forward made a strong case of a championship start. Cillian Buckley then found Padraig Walsh with a nice pass and the Tullaroan magician rifled over a stunning score. Mount Sion’s main man, Gleeson then fired over another free as Waterford got their first score of the second half on 39 minutes.
Some strong pressure from Ballyhale’s Adrian Mullen saw the ball picked up by Cian Kenny who struck a lovely point from a tight angle out on the right side. Mullen was then replaced by his club mate Eoin Cody for his first outing in county colours this season. Clonea’s Conor Dalton then got on the end of some nice team play.
Then on 45 minutes, Kilkenny struck for their second green flag of the day. The influential Padraig Walsh played a lovely pass to Billy Ryan who struck his shot hard into the ground and beyond the despairing dive of Waterford keeper Billy Nolan. This left the home side 7 points up with 46 minutes gone in this exciting contest. Gleeson struck over another placed ball to keep his side in touch.
The sides then exchanged scores, as Eoin Cody and Neil Montgomery pointed. Managers Cody & Cahill made changes to their teams as they sought for an advantage. James Maher replaced the hard-working Cian Kenny while Thomastown’s John Donnelly replaced Mossy in attack.
Eoin Cody then showed some nice stick-work before splitting the Nowlan Park posts to make it a 6-point game. Then on 60 minutes any real chances of a Deise come back were put to bed, when substitute DJ Foran was shown a red card following a reckless frontal challenge on Mikey Butler. Ironically, Waterford hit the next 3 points, through Dessie Hutchinson and a brace from Austin Gleeson. The first of Gleeson’s two, came via a ‘65 after David Blanchfield prevented a certain goal and ushered the ball behind.
Four of the final five scores of the game came from the home side. Alan Murphy struck his 4th free of the day, and his fifth point in total. As the game entered additional time, James Maher hit a huge point from distance and John Donnelly fired over a nice score from out on the left. Waterford’s final effort came from a fine effort by midfielder Carthach Daly.
Tullaroan’s ‘Rolls Royce’ Padraig Walsh then scored the final point of the day, and his fifth from play, after more good work from Cillian Buckley. Final score, Kilkenny 2-21, Waterford 0-21.
SCORERS – Kilkenny: A Murphy 0-5 (4f), P Walsh 0-5, B Ryan 1-1, C Buckley 1-0, W Walsh 0-3, E Cody 0-2, A Mullen, E Murphy (f), C Kenny, J Maher, J Donnelly 0-1 each.
SCORERS – Waterford: A Gleeson 0-7 (4f, 1 ‘65’), P Mahony (3f), N Montgomery 0-3 each, D Hutchinson 0-2, M Kiely, D Lyons, J Fagan, C Dunford, C Dalton, C Daly 0-1 each.
KILKENNY – E Murphy; M Butler, H Lawlor, T Walsh; M Carey, R Reid, D Blanchfield; C Kenny, C Buckley; W Walsh, P Walsh, A Mullen; B Ryan, M Keoghan, A Murphy. Subs: E Cody for Mullen (42), J Maher for Kenny (57), J Donnelly for Keoghan (59), C Delaney for Butler (temp 62-65).
WATERFORD – B Nolan; C Wadding, I Daly, S McNulty; J Fagan, T De Burca, C Dalton; C Daly, D Lyons; N Montgomery, A Gleeson, P Mahony; C Dunford, M Kiely, D Hutchinson. Subs: DJ Foran for Mahony (h/t), Shane Bennett for Kiely (48), K Bennett for Dunford (53), M Harney for Wadding (59), M Mahoney for Lyons (65).
REF – J Murphy (Limerick)
>> SHERRY SAYS………..
So, we’re all off to Cork tomorrow for a National League semi-final under the lights with the Rebels.
A thoroughly deserved 6-point win over the Deise last week ensured our hopes of a league title remained alive.
The TV people gave the MOTM award to the very impressive David Blanchfield. The rangy, powerful and skillful Bennettsbridge man is proving to be a real find for Brian Cody’s Cats. Surely nailed on for a championship jersey.
Padraig Walsh – what more can we say about the Tullaroan star? Operating at centre-forward so far this season, this fella is simply different gravy. He is just a phenomenal hurler. A scorer of 5 points from play last week, Walsh is a joy to watch.
Cillian Buckley scored a lovely goal, but his contributions all over the park were very impressive. Again, Huw Lawlor was a colossus at the back for the black and amber. There are not many better full-backs around the inter-county scene at present.
Dessie Hutchinson. The lively attacker tormented Ballyhale in the club final last month, but found O’Loughlin’s Mikey Butler a really tough nut to crack. Butler was brilliant.
We will know a lot more about this Kilkenny team tomorrow night. The challenge that Cork will bring on their own turf will be formidable. This will be the biggest test for the Cats to date this year.
Get past the undoubted challenge that Cork will present, and we can look forward to a league final against the winners of Wexford and the Deise. Something tells me that we owe Cork one. Tomorrow would be the perfect time to take down the Rebels.