All Ireland Champions Kilkenny have booked their spot in the All-Ireland hurling final after a narrow two point victory over Waterford at Semple Stadium, Thurles.
All Ireland Semi Final: Kilkenny 2-19 Waterford 2-17
The game was played at a blistering pace from the start with four goals in the opening half. In fact, three of the goals came in the opening 10 minutes. Kilkenny boss Brian Cody gave 19 year old Liam Blanchfield a starting place despite not been named in the starting line-up and it didn’t take the Bennetsbridge man long to open his account with the first score of the game inside the first minute. Then came a flurry of goals from both sides. Firstly Austin Gleeson was a well taken goal, Gleeson found himself in space and burst through the Kilkenny defence to finish past Eoin Murphy on 4 minutes. However, Kilkenny responded with two goals of their own in the space of 3 minutes. Walter Walsh steered a ball from his wing into the path of Fennelly who finished past Stephen O’Keeffe in the Waterford goal. However, the scoring from the Ballyhale man didn’t stop there. Fennelly found himself again on the end of a Walter Walsh pass which was hammered past O’Keeffe in the goal.
However, the Decies responded magnificently by scoring 1-03. Jake Dillion took a pass from Stephen Bennett to finish off a sublime goal. Gleeson, was outstanding and finished the first half with 1-01 from play. He was a joy to watch leaping above the Kilkenny attackers to bring the sliothar down from the sky. However, it was Kilkenny who had the last say of the half, as they got three points in a row to go in at half time courtesy of TJ Reid, Michael Fennelly and Walter Walsh. The sides went in at the break 2-10 to 2-07.
Maurice Shanahan and Austin Gleeson dragged Waterford back into the game into the second half. Padraig Walsh was also outstanding hitting two fine point from play. However, Kilkenny hit a poor spell and Pauric Mahony’s frees kept Waterford ticking over as Kilkenny were misfiring. Mahony had an injury time free caught just below the crossbar by Eoin Murphy as it looked like the game was heading to extra time.
The final score of the game from Richie Hogan which sealed the win for Brian Cody’s side who booked their spot in the All-Ireland Final for a third consecutive year. Kilkenny march on to next month’s decider where they will face the winner of Galway v Tipperary.
Kilkenny: E Murphy; P Murphy, J Holden, S Prendergast; P Walsh, M Bergin, C Buckley; C Fogarty, M Fennelly; W Walsh, TJ Reid, L Blanchfield; E Larkin, C Fennelly, R Hogan.
Subs: L Ryan for M Fennelly (59), J Farrell for M Bergin (60), J Power for W Walsh (blood) (60-66), K Kelly for L Blanchfield (73).
Waterford: S O’Keeffe; S Fives, B Coughlan, N Connors; T De Burca, A Gleeson, Philip Mahony; J Barrron, C Gleeson; K Moran, Shane Bennett, M Walsh; Pauric Mahony, J Dillon, Stephen Bennett.
Subs: M Shanahan for Stephen Bennett (47), P Curran for Shane Bennett (54), T Devine for J Dillon (60).
Scorers for Kilkenny: C Fennelly 2-1, TJ Reid 0-7 (6fs), R Hogan 0-4, L Blanchfield 0-3, P Walsh 0-2, E Larkin 0-1, W Walsh 0-1.
Scorers for Waterford: Pauric Mahony 0-9 (7fs), A Gleeson 1-2, J Dillon 1-0, Shane Bennett 0-2, J Barron 0-2, M Shanahan 0-2
Referee: James McGrath (Westmeath).