ALL-Ireland champions, Kilkenny continued their current red hot form when overpowering limited Waterford in the Allianz National Hurling League in Walsh Park yesterday (2-21 to 1-15), writes John Knox
The Cats didn’t exactly take up where they left off against Tipperary in the first round, but when they let rip from the start of the second half they made things look easy against a Waterford team that is being reshaped by new manager, Michael Ryan.
Kilkenny were all business from the throw-in. An early foul on Eoin Larkin led to Richie Power opening their account from a free. Michael Fennelly added a second before the losers’ most threatening attacker, Maurice Shanahan shot a reply.
At one stage the visitors opened out a lead of 0-6 to 0-3, but a well taken goal by Shanahan in the 16th minute, with an assist by Michael Walsh, levelled the scores at 0-6 to 1-3.
Kilkenny, who were top class at winning ball on their own puck-outs, won back the lead through T.J. Reid before strong attacker leader, Richie Power converted a free to give them a bit more breathing space.
However, the evergreen Tony Browne, who was wonderful for Waterford during this half, cracked over a great point from the right half-back position to inspire his colleagues. During the following minutes the home team got on top, and they actually held the lead between the 22nd and 27th minutes (1-7 to 0-8).
A well put away goal by Matt Ruth, who shot to the net from a tight angle on the left after turning a hopeful pass from Power into something really good, lifted Kilkenny and drove them on to lead of 1-10 to 1-9 at the end of a tame first half.
From the start of the second half the game simply ran away from Waterford. They were hit for 1-4 against a single point reply during the nine minutes after the run as the Cats turned up the heat big time.
Richie Power opened the barrage by shooting a point. Richie Hogan followed in like fashion before Power added his second and Kilkenny third point. Maurice Shanahan tried to arrest the slide when pulled back a nice point.
That drew a reply from the on fire Hogan, who proceeded to rip asunder the home defence. In the 44th minute Hogan started the deadly move that also involved T.J. Reid and finished with Matt Ruth crashing home his second goal.
Kilkenny shot 2-14 to 1-10 clear. Waterford never got within shouting distance after that. The visitors were so comfortable nearing the end that they introduced a number of subs, including Kieran Joyce and Willie Phelan in defence.
The All-Ireland champions entertain League champions, Dublin, at Nowlan Park on Sunday. A third win would put them within touching distance of the semi-finals.
“We want to do as well as we can in the League, and win it if we can,” Kilkenny manager, Brian Cody said at the start of the campaign.
So far, so good, would be the assessment of things right now.
Scorers: Kilkenny – Richie Power (0-10, seven frees); Matt Ruth (2-1); Eoin Larkin (0-3); T.J. Reid, Colin Fennelly, Richie Hogan (0-2 each); Michael Fennelly (0-1). Waterford – Martin O’Neill (0-6, four frees); Maurice Shanahan (1-3); Tony Browne (0-2, one free); Gavin O’Brien (0-2); Seamus Prendergast (0-1); Paudie Mahony (0-1, free).
Kilkenny – Eoin Murphy, Paul Murphy, J.J. Delaney, Jackie Tyrrell, Tommy Walsh, Paddy Hogan, Conor Fogarty, Michael Fennelly, Richie Doyle, T.J. Reid, Richie Power, Eoin Larkin (capt), Colin Fennelly, Richie Hogan, Matthew Ruth. Subs – Kieran Joyce for P. Hogan 43rd min; John Mulhall for C. Fennelly 56th min; Cillian Buckley for M. Fennelly 67th min; Willie Phelan for J.J. Delaney 67th min.
Waterford – Ian O’Regan, Darragh Fives, Liam Lawlor, Philip Mahony, Tony Browne, Kevin Moran, Declan Prendergast, Stephen Molumphy, Paul O’Brien, Seamus Prendergast, Michael Walsh (capt), Paudie Mahony, Martin O’Neill, Maurice Shanahan, Gavin O’Brien. Subs – Jamie Nagle for D. Prendergast 45th min; Shane O’Sullivan for S. Prendergast 51st min.
Referee – John Sexton (Cork)