By Brian Flannery

Waterford’s Lorraine Bray battles with Kilkenny’s Davina Tobin.

Waterford’s Lorraine Bray battles with Kilkenny’s Davina Tobin.

Reigning senior All-Ireland and League champions Kilkenny rocked up to Walsh Park for the opening round of the 2017 Camogie Championship and had little difficult in recoding the expected comfortable victory.
This was certainly a David v Goliath contest but without the giant killing. A young Waterford side playing in only their second season at this level and despite their best efforts were ill equipped to trouble the honours laden champions.
Walsh Park was in splendid condition for this opening round tie in Group 1 and on a bright pleasant Saturday afternoon the real disappointment must be the continuing lack of support for a sport that ignites little home support.
The champions won the toss and opted to play with the aid of the breeze in the opening half with manager Ann Downey no doubt hoping to secure the points on offer early.
Inside the opening minute player of match Katie Power pointed for the champions. Denise Gaule and Julianne Moore increased the Kilkenny lead before Áine Lyng from Gailltír had Waterford’s opening score from a free after eight minutes when Beth Carton was felled on route to goal.
Shelly Farrell replied with a point from close in for the Cats and in the 12th minute the same player was on hand to finish to the net after a goalmouth scramble (1-4 to 0-1).
Despite Waterford playing with Jenny McCarthy operating as an extra defender the home side were very much fighting a rear-guard battle and struggled to contain their much vaunted opponents. By the mid-way stage Kilkenny were well in command, with the score reading 1-9 to 0-4.
Waterford manager Ray O’Brien continued with a cautious set up on the turn-around playing with an extra defender even with significant breeze now at his sides’ backs.
Beth Carton converted another free five minutes into the second when she was fouled herself. Claire Whyte and Shauna Kiernan were stoutly defending for the home side and Kilkenny failed to score in the entire third quarter missing a number of chances including two frees from very favourable positions.
The conundrum for the home side was while clogging their defence with bodies may have helped to the stem the tide somewhat, at the other end of the field the likes of Beth Carton and Lorraine Bray were hopelessly outnumbered and isolated. Indeed, Waterford failed to register a single score from play over the entire 60 plus minutes.
Kilkenny rattled off another 1-6 in succession as they availed of the opportunity to run their bench. The champions’ second goal came after 56 minutes when livewire Katie Power careered through the home defence to shoot high to the back of the net at the Keane’s Road end.
Beth Carton rifled over an excellent free in injury time from inside her own half to close out a disappointing afternoon for the home side.
Kilkenny will no doubt seek to improve on their tally of 12 wides as the championship progresses with Katie Power, Meighan Farrell and Juileanne Malone in fine form here.
Waterford will likely not face such a stern test for the remainder of this season with Brianna O’Regan, Claire Whyte, Shauna Kiernan, Iona Heffernan and Beth Carton best on a difficult afternoon against the champions. Next up? A trip to Cusack Park on Saturday next to take on Clare, who lost their own opener in Dublin last weekend.

Waterford: Brianna O’Regan; Marie Russell, Fiona Morrissey, Claire Whyte; Mairead Power, Shauna Kiernan, Iona Heffernan; Kate McMahon, Aoife Landers; Niamh Rockett, Beth Carton, Aine Lyng; Caithriona McGlone, Jenny McCarthy, Lorraine Bray.

Substitutes: Niamh Ahearne for Kate McMahon (42 mins), Valerie O’Brien for Aoife Landers (47) and Becky Kavanagh for Aine Lyng (57).

Scorers: Beth Carton (0-4f) and Aine Lyng (0-2f).

Kilkenny: Emma Kavanagh; Catherine Foley, Davina Tobin, Collette Dorme; Claire Phelan, Anne Dalton, Grace Walsh; Meighan Farrell, Anna Farrell; Julianne Malone, Miriam Walshe, Denise Gaule; Shelly Farrell, Katie Power, Michelle Quilty.

Substitutes: Danielle Morrissey for Julianne Malone (37 mins), Jenny Clifford for Shelly Farrell (41), Jenny Reidy for Anna Farrell (47) and Grace O’Donnell for Denise Gaule (57).

Scorers: Katie Power (1-3), Shelly Farrell (1-1), Danielle Morrissey (0-3; 0-2f), Julianne Malone (0-3), Denise Gaule (0-2; 0-1f, 0-1’45), Anna Farrell (0-2) and Miriam Walshe (0-1).

Referee: Eamon Cassidy (Derry)

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