Waterford prove too powerful for Kilkenny

Waterford League 2

Waterford League 2

Kilkenny & District League 0

KILKENNY’S quest for the Oscar Traynor Trophy ended at the group stage as a brace from the in-form Paul Quilty handed the Waterford League the spoils on Sunday.

Having lost a five-goal tussle against Wexford in the opening round, defeat to the Deise at Ozier Park meant Kilkenny exited the competition without a point for the second season in succession – however, the result wasn’t as cut and dried as it sounds.

Kilkenny may have had the worst possible start, but the Cats could and should have been in front by the break.

Waterford almost got off to a dream start when Thomas Croke picked out Paul Quilty from the first attack. Dashing in from the left Quilty raced on to the ball but shot across the face of the goal.

Undeterred, Waterford pushed on and hit the opener on five minutes. Started by Keith Walsh, Stephen Grant pulled the ball back from the left endline into the path of Paul Quilty, who had no problem stabbing the ball home from close range.

Pitted against a home side which featured Carrick United’s junior international goalkeeper Adrian Walsh and his entire club defence, Kilkenny may have been expected to struggle in offence, but the Cats really came into the game after going behind.

Bared teeth

The visitors bared their teeth for the first time on 13 minutes when Evergreen duo Joe Mulcahy and Niall Andrews teamed up and cut Waterford open, but Adrian Walsh made a great save to keep out Andrews’s thundering 25 yard effort.

Kilkenny kept looking for a way back into the game, going close again midway through the half. A goal seemed certain when Jamie Owens put Aiden Keenan in the clear, but with only Walsh to beat the Lions player shot wide from a great position.

They had another chance to level the game just three minutes later. This time it was a set-piece that provided the opening, as Michael Comerford rose highest to meet a Jamie Owens corner, but his header flashed over the crossbar.

Kilkenny were enjoying a lot of possession at this stage, but couldn’t carve out an equaliser before the break. Waterford had trouble containing Keenan, who went close again when he connected with Joe Mulcahy’s 39th minute cross but his header failed to trouble Walsh.

Having escaped the first half with their lead intact Waterford showed greater intent after the restart. The Cats were grateful to their own international ’keeper Graham Doyle when he smothered Phil Drohan’s early second half shot.

Back on attack

Kilkenny heeded that scare and went back on the attack, but again they failed to convert with the final ball. Aidan Keenan was off-target again six minutes after the restart, while Joe Mulcahy evaded four Waterford players but saw his teasing right win cross get headed away to safety by the hosts’ captain Anthony O’Donnell.

Those spurned opportunities came back to haunt the Cats as Waterford grabbed the goal which sealed the game with 15 minutes left on the clock. Paul Quilty doubled his and Waterford’s tally when, following good work from Phil Penkert, the Quilty arrived to nod home Stephen Grant’s low cross from the edge of the six-yard box.

Quilty almost rounded off his day with a hat-trick. He had two bites of the cherry late on, but twice he was denied by two superb saves from Doyle. First the Freebooters ’keeper raced from his line to save with his legs on 86 minutes before, three minutes later, he dived to his left to brilliantly tip away a powerful Quilty volley.

In the end the saves provided little comfort for Kilkenny, who were left to rue the number of missed opportunities they racked up over the 90 minutes, while Waterford have a winner-takes-all clash with Wexford to look forward to.

Waterford League: Adrian Walsh, James Walsh, Anthony Power, Anthony O’Donnell, John Walsh, Phil Penkert, Keith Walsh (Stephen Dalton, 86 mins), Thomas Croke (Joe Twomey, 84 mins), Paul Quilty, Stephen Grant, Phil Drohan (Shaun Corcoran, 71 mins).

Kilkenny & District League: Graham Doyle, Tommy Earls, James Kelly, Michael Falsey, Robert Skehan, Niall Andrews, Joe Mulcahy, Michael Comerford, Aidan Keenan, Jamie Owens (Damien Raggett, 64 mins), Ger Hayes (Chris Whearty, 59 mins).

Referee: Noel Purcell (Waterford).