Smashing performance earns Cats the Kennedy Plate

Kilkenny & DL 5, Waterford League 1

Kilkenny & DL 5, Waterford League 1

A POWER-PACKED performance, coupled with a rich goal-scoring vein, saw the Kilkenny & District League team end their Kennedy Cup campaign on a winning note.

The Kittens, under the care of Gary Maher, completed a memorable week by getting their hands on the Kennedy Plate for the second time in their history. The under-14 side were full value for their victory, writes Trevor Spillane, handing neighbours Waterford a lesson in finishing on a wet and windy Friday at the University of Limerick.

“It was brilliant end to an incredible week,” said Kilkenny captain Dara Keane as he got his hands on the silverware at the end of the game. The young skipper was one of a number of heroes in black and amber, pulling the strings in a solid midfield unit which complemented a powerful attack and composed defence.

Keane also added his name to the scoresheet, but not before Waterford stunned their local rivals. The game was just four minutes old when Eoin Daly gave the Deise boys the lead, stealing in at the front post to nod Jake Mooney’s corner into the top left corner.

Kilkenny didn’t panic; instead they took just three minutes to reply. Racing after a long Marc Drennan ball out of defence, striker Craig Hayes took a gamble on the bounce and suddenly found himself in space. Hayes let fly with a low shot from the right, which deflected off a defender into the path of Chris Nolan – he couldn’t miss from in front of goal.

Lively threat

Nolan and Hayes were a lively threat up top. Full of running, they took it in turns to drop off and pick up possession before turning for the posts. They combined again on 12 minutes, Nolan setting his team-mate free with a great pass but Hayes was denied his goal by a stunning save from Waterford’s Craig Dunphy, who dived full stretch to his right to push the shot to safety.

Kilkenny kept pushing for a second, but couldn’t make their chances count. Nolan saw his 14th minute effort from the tightest of angles cannon back off a post, while Dean George sent a long range shot screaming over the bar on 25 minutes.

Owen McCormack went closer still, stinging Dunphy’s palms with a pile-driver of a free-kick before they took command of the game on the half hour. From the resulting corner Nolan flicked on Emmet Coakley’s delivery for Dara Keane to nod home at the back post.

Showing a hunger for more goals, Kilkenny had a third just four minutes later. This time Coakley started and finished the move, firing in a menacing corner which somehow Waterford scrambled off the line. The clearance spun back out to Coakley, who controlled it on his chest before slamming a low shot into the far side of the net.

Waterford rang the changes at the break, bringing on three subs, as they tried to raise their game. They had to work hard to get the better of Kilkenny’s defence, where Edward Moylan, Gary Lawlor, Marc Drennan and Owen McCormack dealt with everything thrown at them.

Rampant

However, they couldn’t stop a now-rampant Kilkenny from hunting for more goals. Full-back Lawlor unleashed a shot which came back off the bar, while Nolan saw a close range sidefoot effort flash wide when the goal seemed certain.

Waterford came back into the game after that, dominating possession, but their best efforts were repelled by a strong Kilkenny defence. The introduction of Christian Lapuste helped shore up midfield, allowing the Cats to take the pressure off their defence, while a lengthy delay for injury to Dan Coad cooled Waterford’s enthusiasm.

It had the opposite effect on Kilkenny, who hit two quickfire goals in the closing stages to seal the title. Craig Hayes got due reward for his hard work, racing on to Lapuste’s 70th minute through ball before cheekily dinking the ball over the advancing Cormac Heinen.

They added a fifth in injury-time, Hayes sending in a low cross that Nolan turned home to seal an emphatic victory and start the celebrations.

Kilkenny & DL squad: Stephen Scallon (Freebooters), Joe Banville (Freebooters), Edward Moylan (Freebooters), Owen McCormack (Evergreen), Chris Phelan (Freebooters), Dean George (Freebooters), Dara Keane (Evergreen, captain), Peter Henebry (Evergreen), Chris Nolan (Bridge United), Craig Hayes (Freebooters), Emmet Coakley (Evergreen), Gary Lawlor (Bridge United), Marc Drennan (Paulstown 06), Sean Bolger (Freebooters), Aidan O’Sullivan (Evergreen), Shane Hanley (Thomastown United), Adam Power (Thomastown United), Shane Flavin (Paulstown 06), Christian Lapuste (Freebooters), Colin Dempsey (Evergreen).

Waterford SL: Craig Dunphy (Cormac Heinen, 36 mins), Corey Gallagher (Sean Whelan, 11 mins), Kyle Doherty (Dan Coad, 36 mins; Brandon O’Sullivan for Coad, 68 mins), Jack Frisby, Conor Dunphy, Sam Hudson-Hamm, Jake Mooney (Kyle Collins, 36 mins), Glenn Waters, Eoin Daly, Dylan Kearns (James Kennedy, 50 mins), Jayson Molumby.