The All-Ireland dream died on another Kilkenny team today, the minor hurlers being beaten by 2-12 to 0-16 by Waterford in the semi-final in Croke Park.
The Suirsiders, who set the pace from the 22nd minute when deadly free taker Patrick Curran clipped over a free from 65 metres to put them 2-3 to 0-8 in front, qualified for the first final since 1992. The opposition will be provided by Limerick or Galway.
The game was there for the taking with 10 minutes remaining when Kilkenny had an extra man after Shane Bennett was dismissed following a second yellow card offence. The score was 2-11 to 0-15 at the time after smashing free taker, Alan Murphy converted the free.
For a while the Cats dominated. They missed a close in free to reduce the arrears to the minimum, and then shot two additional wides from long range as they piled on the pressure. James Maher operated as the free man behind the half-back line and he cleaned up a lot of ball and drove the team on.
However, the losers then had Eoin Kenny sent off after being shown a second yellow card, and Waterford regained their composure.
Waterford regrouped and in the 57th minute D.J. Foran scored a good point to relieve the pressure. Liam Blanchfield shot a reply at the Canal End but try as they might, the Noresiders could not save the game.
There was little or nothing between the teams during the opening half. Three times the scores were level at 1-1 to 0-4, 2-1 to 0-7 and 2-2 to 0-8. The Waterford goals by Adam Farrell (7th minute) and a wonderful individual effort from D.J. Foran (14th minute) were crucial.
The winners led by 2-5 to 0-9 at the break. Six of the losers scores came from frees by Alan Murphy, who converted every chance that came his way.
The second half exchanges were close too, but Waterford never surrendered the lead after Michael Kearney and Patrick Curran grabbed early points to help them settle. Kilkenny hung in and battle every inch of the way, but the goal they needed just would not come despite a wholehearted effort.
Scorers: Waterford - P. Curran (0-7, four frees, two 65s); D.J. Foran (1-1); A. Farrell (1-0); A. Gleeson, M. O’Brien, S. Bennett, M. Kearney (0-1 each). Kilkenny - A. Murphy (0-10, frees); J. Walsh, L. Blanchfield (0-2 each); N. Mullins, K. Kenny (0-1 each).
Kilkenny - D. Brennnan, E. Cody, D. Joyce, C. Wallace, J. Stanley, J. Maher, C. Delaney, N. Mullins, C. Ryan, L. Blanchfield, E. Kenny, V. Teehan, A. Murphy, K. Kenny, J. Walsh. Subs - M. Kenny for Mullins 35th min; L. Scanlon for C. Ryan 44th min.
Waterford - G. Power, W. Hahessey, K. Daly, C. Leamy, M. Harney, A. Gleeson, S. Bennett, M. O’Brien, T. Devine, A. Farrell, C. Roche, D.J. Foran, P. Curran, S. Bennett, M. Kearney.
Referee - S. Hourigan (Limerick).