BRIAN CODY’S KILKENNY are finally off the mark in Division 1A of the Allianz National Hurling League after the reigning League and All-Ireland champions beat Waterford by five points at Nowlan Park this afternoon.
And the visiting Déise were the architects of their own downfall to a large extent as defensive mistakes cost them dearly.
Waterford lost for the first time in the League this season but at half-time, they were full value for a 0-11 to 1-6 lead.
But the goal they conceded, on the half hour mark, was avoidable as Stephen O’Keeffe’s short puck-out was picked off by Ger Aylward 40 metres from goal.
The Glenmore forward advanced on goal and powered his shot past O’Keeffe for a goal that Kilkenny badly needed.
It levelled the tie at that point – 1-4 to 0-7 – but Waterford were the better side in the opening half and Michael Ryan’s charges recovered to lead by two points at the break.
The pendulum swung both ways in the second half as Kilkenny opened with three successive points to lead again.
Waterford, playing into the breeze and rain now, responded with four unanswered points, all scored by Pauric Mahony, but Kilkenny looked more threatening close to goal.
Aylward spurned a decent goal chance in the 42nd minute and Colin Fennelly hit the side-netting seven minutes later when well placed.
With less than twenty minutes remaining, Waterford led by 0-15 to 1-9 but Kilkenny opened up with 1-5 without reply to make the game safe.
Matthew Ruth’s goal with six minutes remaining was the decisive score as the James Stephens man pounced from close range after O’Keeffe, who scored a long-range free in the first half, failed to hold Paddy Hogan’s long delivery into the Waterford goalmouth.
Maurice Shanahan and Eoin Larkin, Kilkenny’s leading marksman, traded late scores as the hosts held on comfortably for a much-needed win in front of 6887 spectators.
Cody will gladly take the win and move on but still without a host of leading names, Kilkenny look unusually vulnerable. Distribution into the forward line left a lot to be desired and the Cats also registered 13 wides on the day.
Scorers for Kilkenny: Eoin Larkin 0-6 (5f), Ger Aylward & Matthew Ruth 1-1 each, Aidan Fogarty 0-3, Richie Hogan 0-2, Lester Ryan & Colin Fennelly 0-1 each.
Scorers for Waterford: Pauric Mahony 0-6 (5f), Jake Dillon 0-3 (1 sl), Shane O’Sullivan 0-2, Stephen O’Keeffe (f), Kevin Moran, Brian O’Halloran, Shane Walsh & Maurice Shanahan 0-1 each.
KILKENNY: Eoin Murphy (Glenmore); Paul Murphy (Danesfort), JJ Delaney (Fenians), Jackie Tyrrell (James Stephens); Tommy Walsh (Tullaroan), Brian Hogan (O’Loughlin Gaels), Kieran Joyce (Rower-Inistioge); Lester Ryan (Clara), Paddy Hogan (Danesfort); Richie Hogan (Danesfort), Mark Bergin (O’Loughlin Gaels), Eoin Larkin (James Stephens); Ger Aylward (Glenmore), Colin Fennelly (Ballyhale Shamrocks), Aidan Fogarty (Emeralds).
Subs: Padraig Walsh (Tullaroan) for Tyrrell (24), Matthew Ruth (James Stephens) for Bergin (h.t.), Willie Phelan (Dunnamaggin) for Murphy (46).
WATERFORD: Stephen O’Keeffe (Ballygunner); Shane Fives (Carrigtwohill), Liam Lawlor (Fourmilewater), Stephen Daniels (De La Salle); Jamie Nagle (Dungarvan), Michael Walsh (Stradbally), Kevin Moran (De La Salle); Shane O’Sullivan (Ballygunner), Paudie Prendergast (Lismore); Brian O’Halloran (Clashmore/Kinsalebeg), Seamus Prendergast (Ardmore), Jake Dillon (De La Salle); Brian O’Sullivan (Ballygunner), Shane Walsh (Fourmilewater), Pauric Mahony (Ballygunner).
Subs: Jamie Barron (Fourmilewater) for B O’Sullivan (46), Maurice Shanahan (Lismore) for S Walsh (55), Ray Barry (Lismore) for Moran (65).
Referee: James McGrath (Westmeath).