Timing everything for crafty Cats
Kilkenny 2-19 Waterford 1-16: Kilkenny are into their sixth All-Ireland final in a row after seeing off the challenge of a valiant Waterford side at Croke Park this afternoon. Brian Cody’s side will face either All-Ireland champions Tipperary or emerging power Dublin in the final.
It wasn’t vintage Cats by any means but that old habit of making crucial scores when they are needed most is still there, as was the case when Richie Hogan fired his second goal a minute before half time to stifle a Deise revival. Hogan’s first was the opening score of the game and came all to easily as he burst through the Waterford rearguard and blasted it past Clinton Hennessy.
Davy Fitzgerald and Waterford fans must have feared another rout on a par with the seven-goal pasting they got from Tipperary earlier in the summer, but they reacted differently this time round.
The Cats tagged on another two points beforehand, however, but when John Mullane hit their first the nerves settled and Pádraic Mahony and Seamus Prendergast soon got in on the act to close the gap to two points.
The two sides continued to trade blows until Shefflin pointed and Mahony miscued for a three-point gap. Eoin Larkin and TJ Reid pushed Kilkenny further ahead.
Mullane wasn’t ready to cede ground that easily and took a handpass from Prendergast before smashing it into the roof of the net from a tight angle. After pointing again, he then pulled a fine save from David Herity and Waterford must have thought they could sense weakness.
Cue that Cats timing and some sublime stick work from Hogan when he was found all alone behind the full-back line by Colin Fennelly. The corner forward took one touch with his hurl and flicked it past the onrushing Hennessy before being flattened by the Waterford netminder.
A Shefflin free opened the gap at the break to six and another from King Henry after the restart showed Kilkenny’s killer instinct once again.
It took Mullane nine minutes to respond, but this time it was met with more pain from Fennelly, Shefflin and Larkin for a 10-point lead.
Waterford showed their grit with further scores from Fennelly, Stephen Molumphy and a Maurice Shanahan a free, who later joined Mullane reducing the gap further as the Cats seemingly drifted off.
It was never enough to trouble them, though, and yet another final is on the horizon for Cody and his men.