ANOTHER week, another rip-roaring win for Kilkenny.
The Cats charged their way into the All-Ireland quarter-finals, but had to grind out every last ounce to get the better of Waterford in a tense tie at Semple Stadium on Saturday evening.
It took extra-time to separate the teams, but it was Kilkenny who held their nerve to book a final eight place against Cork on a 1-22 to 2-16 scoreline.
Caught at the end of normal time by five unanswered Waterford points, Kilkenny were convinced they had snatched a last gasp winner when Matthew Ruth split the posts, but his ‘score’ came after referee James Owens had already blown the final whistle.
They didn’t make the same mistake in the first period of injury-time, Richie Hogan inspiring Kilkenny to take a five-point lead (1-17 to 0-15) but a Jake Dillon goal kept Waterford in the hunt. The Deise were level again nearing the end of the second half of extra-time, sub Ray Barry plundering a goal, but a late flurry of points from Colin Fennelly, Matthew Ruth and Aidan Fogarty saw Kilkenny pull through.
After a slow start Kilkenny fought their way into the reckoning as the first half drew to a close. They took the game by the scruff of the neck at the perfect time, Richie Power netting an injury-time penalty after Aidan Fogarty was fouled in the square. The Cats had to argue for the score, after it seemed the sliotar had come back off the crossbar, but the ball had actually cannoned off a support at the back of the net and come back out (1-6 to 0-6).
The goal provided Kilkenny with a cushion they held for most of the second half. It looked like they were scrapping their way to victory when Power (free) and Eoin Larkin pushed them five points clear with little over 10 minutes left on the clock (1-11 to 0-9), but Waterford weren’t finished. The Deise hit five unanswered points in the last seven minutes, clawing their way back into a game in which they had looked dead and buried.
It was a run which amped up the tension in Thurles - but the real drama was still to come...
SCORERS: Kilkenny - Richie Power (1-5, 1-0 pen, 0-2 frees); Richie Hogan (0-5); Eoin Larkin (0-4, 0-3 frees); Colin Fennelly (0-4); Aidan Fogarty (0-2); Matthew Ruth, Michael Fennelly (0-1 each). Waterford - Ray Barry (1-3); Jake Dillon (1-2, 0-1 free); Darragh Fives, Kevin Moran (0-3 each); Jamie Nagle (0-1, free); Richie Foley, Seamus Prendergast, Brian O’Sullivan, Jamie Barron (0-1 each).