Waterford & DL1
Kilkenny & DL0
ONE GOAL was enough to hand the Kilkenny & District League’s youth team their first loss in over a year – but defeat doesn’t mean the end of the road.
Waterford’s 1-0 win means that the defending All-Ireland champions must get a result in their final group game against the TSDL on December 18. Victory there will be the perfect Christmas present for Ronnie Grace and his side, as it will guarantee them a place in the next stage of the inter-league competition.
The Cats were undone by one swift Waterford attack in Ozier Park on Sunday. Adam O’Donoghue laid the foundation, cushioning a perfect ball into the path of Niall McCabe on 20 minutes. The winger sped past his man, rounded the advancing Jason Mahony and coolly slipped the ball home.
Kilkenny had made the better start to the game and almost grabbed a quick goal. Mopping up a loose ball at the back Ciaran Wallace unlocked Waterford with a low pass to Aaron Molloy. The midfielder rolled the ball to Emmet Nugent, but he couldn’t keep his 11th minute shot on target.
The goal, when it came, arrived in the middle of Waterford’s best spell of the game. The hosts found great joy down the right as full-back Mark McManus and midfielder Mark Walsh linked up well and tormented the Cats at every opportunity.
Top form ’keeper
However, they couldn’t get the better of Jason Mahony. The Kilkenny ’keeper was in top form throughout the game, showing an early sign of his prowess when he got down well to push Walsh’s curling free away from his right hand post after just 13 minutes.
Even though they went behind Kilkenny stayed calm and almost found an equaliser within 60 seconds. Moving the ball well from left to right full-backs Stephen Finan and Shane Butler were at the heart of a move that pushed the Cats forward.
Aaron Molloy, Paddy Cahill and Daragh Egan were also involved before the ball came back to Cahill, but his searing shot was well held by netminder Darragh Gibbs.
Waterford heeded that scare and went straight back on the attack. Mark Walsh was allowed to move forward unchallenged and picked out Niall McCabe with a telling pass, but although he beat Mahony with a fierce drive the ball cannoned back off an upright.
Waterford were quickly out of the blocks in the second half and should have doubled their lead within minutes of the restart after Mark Walsh’s corner was flicked on by Mark O’Keeffe. Arriving at the back post defender Patrick Fitzgerald had time to chest the ball down, but he lashed his close range shot over the bar.
It was Kilkenny’s turn to threaten after that. Paddy Cahill went close when he curled a dangerous 51st minute free past the Waterford wall, but Gibbs did well to get down to his left to stop the ball from sneaking inside his near post.
The introduction of Sean Murphy saw Kilkenny add a new dimension to their game, the sub using his pace to sparkle in attack. That, coupled with the hard work of Daragh Egan ensured Kilkenny were never out of the game, but clearcut chances for the visitors were few and far between.
Waterford, for their part, wasted another chance to double their lead just after the hour mark. Niall McCabe should have had his second goal when he got on the end of Dean Reidy’s excellent crossfield pass but he blasted over when the target was at his mercy.
Waterford had some more chances after that, but both Mark O’Keeffe and sub Jamie Hunt were denied by super saves from Mahony. However, their one goal lead proved enough, leaving Kilkenny facing a winner takes all meeting with Tipp a week before Christmas.
Kilkenny & District League: Jason Mahony, Stephen Finan, Shane Butler, Ronan Delahunty, Ciaran Wallace, Gary Mason, Aaron Molloy (Sean Murphy, 54 mins), Paddy Cahill, Emmet Nugent, Daragh Egan, Ciaran Bowe (Cian Morton, 85 mins).
Waterford & District League: Darragh Gibbs, Mark McManus, Dean Reidy, Gavin O’Donovan, Patrick Fitzgerald, Adam Sutton, Mark Walsh (Conor Whittle, 54 mins), Andrew O’Connor, Adam O’Donoghue, Mark O’Keeffe (Jamie Hunt, 73 mins), Niall McCabe (Josh Aimiuhi, 85 mins).
Referee: Anthony Walsh. Linesmen: Johnny Matthews, Tony Walsh (all Waterford).