DEISE HIT THE GROUND RUNNING

National Hurling League Division 1A

Waterford’s Maurice Shanahan takes on Kilkenny’s Paul Murphy during Sunday's NHL Division 1A clash at Walsh Park. 	| Photos: Noel Browne

Waterford’s Maurice Shanahan takes on Kilkenny’s Paul Murphy during Sunday's NHL Division 1A clash at Walsh Park. | Photos: Noel Browne

Waterford 0-14
Kilkenny 0-10

Dermot Keyes reports

A first competitive win over Kilkenny in seven years provided Waterford with the ideal start to the defence of the National Hurling League title before a bumper Walsh Park crowd, the majority of whom went home decidedly pleased. Purring even – yes, pun fully intended!
Despite striking 18 wides, six alone off the stick of the marauding, slightly frustrating yet still impressive Austin Gleeson, a physically dominant Waterford laid down a significant marker for 2016 against a Kilkenny side which takes on Tipperary at Nowlan Park next weekend in a proverbial four-pointer.
Of even greater significance, one could argue, to Waterford was their limiting the All-Ireland champions to only four points from play over 70 minutes played on a doughy Walsh Park surface.
“Very proud of that,” commented Deise boss Derek McGrath as his team completed their warm-down exercise at the City End of Walsh Park.
“But moreso of the belief that the boys had in how we’re playing. A lot of people point to how good we are from numbers 1 to 9, but I think the 1 to 9 are depending on how hard the lads in front of them work and how well they set themselves up, but I’m just delighted by how we performed as a team today…I thought the honesty of the team performance was exceptional.”

Austin Gleeson struck six wides on Sunday last, but nonetheless produced an excellent display.

Austin Gleeson struck six wides on Sunday last, but nonetheless produced an excellent display.

TJ Reid, who still produced some wonderful moments of individual skill on Sunday, mustered only one score from play, a telling stat on a day of many outstanding Deise performances from front to back.
After seven minutes, Waterford were three points to the good, having opened proceedings most impressively, winning a host of loose ball, and keeping the All-Ireland champions pinned firmly inside their own half.

Kilkenny’s Cillian Buckley and Waterford’s Colin Dunford contest the dropping ball.

Kilkenny’s Cillian Buckley and Waterford’s Colin Dunford contest the dropping ball.

Patrick Curran, Maurice Shanahan (via a free) and Jake Dillon all sent the white flag high, as the Deisemen laid down a significant early marker.
But a fine TJ Reid effort inside eight minutes – ultimately his only score from play – got the Cats off the mark as they struggled to find an early foothold.
Reid fired over an eighth minute free after being fouled by Austin Gleeson and three minutes later, Padraig Walsh advanced brilliantly upfield to score after a smart free delivered by Kieran Joyce.
Gleeson instantly replied for Waterford with a fine effort after a through ball from Shane Bennett, only for another TJ Reid free to restore parity on the quarter hour.
Five minutes later, the outstanding Colin Dunford struck a superb 40-metre point from wide on the left flank, but Reid cancelled that effort out with another free two minutes later.
Colin Fennelly put the Cats ahead for the only time all afternoon in the 27th minute, and picked up a yellow card a few minutes later, which would prove costly in the latter stages of this contest.
Dunford excellently found his range again on the half hour, with Shane Bennett (producing the Deise’s sole goalscoring opportunity of the afternoon) and a Patrick Curran free sending Waterford in two points ahead at the break (0-8 to 0-6).
But Waterford had by then already and frustratingly registered 11 wides, and, had steadier wrists and calmer heads prevailed, the white and blue ought to have been out of sight by the break.
The complexion of the match didn’t alter significantly after the interval, as a physically forceful Waterford outmuscled Kilkenny to telling effect.
Maurice Shanahan, Patrick Curran (via a free) and Shanahan once more sent the hosts three clear by the 49th minute, but some poor decision making on the shooting front by Waterford kept Brian Cody’s side in the contest.
TJ Reid’s 58th minute free bridged a 19-minute gap between Kilkenny points and just moments after Shane Bennett landed a 63rd minute free at the opposite end, Colin Fennelly was dismissed for a second bookable offence, following a tussle with Kevin Moran.
Shane Bennett landed his second free four minutes later, to which Reid, again from a placed ball, replied only moments afterwards.
But Waterford, for whom Stephen O’Keeffe instinctively denied Padraig Walsh a goal in the dying seconds, completed the scoring thanks to Jake Dillon, to bring most of the crowd sitting in the stand off their feet.
Conceding he had referenced last August’s All-Ireland semi-final defeat in the build-up to Sunday’s fixture, Derek McGrath stated: “We pointed to whether enough of us believed we were going to beat Kilkenny or whether we just saw it as a journey ending no matter what at that stage.
“We’d had a relatively good year. We didn’t want to lean on that, well, I don’t want to say typical Waterford, but we want to be a different Waterford, and being known for hard work and honesty – I’m not saying previous Waterford teams weren’t but if we want to write an epitaph for ourselves then I want that to be that we’re hard working, that we’re together, honest and clever.”
Next up for Waterford? A trip to Páric Uí Rinn on Saturday night next (throw-in: 7.30pm) to take on a Cork side smarting from their opening day defeat in Salthill.
The Waterford panel pictured prior to Sunday’s NHL Division 1A win over Kilkenny at Walsh Park.

The Waterford panel pictured prior to Sunday’s NHL Division 1A win over Kilkenny at Walsh Park.


Waterford: Stephen O’Keeffe; Shane Fives, Barry Coughlan, Noel Connors; Austin Gleeson , Darragh Fives, Philip Mahony; Jamie Barron, Kevin Moran; Jake Dillon, Shane Bennett, Michael Walsh; Patrick Curran, Maurice Shanahan, C Dunford.

Scorers: Maurice Shanahan and Patrick Curran (0-3 each; 0-1f each), Shane Bennett (0-3; 0-2f), Colin Dunford and Jake Dillon (0-2 each) and Austin Gleeson (0-1).

Substitute: Brian O’Halloran for Patrick Curran (66 mins).
Blood subs: Colm Roche for Maurice Shanahan (61) and Shane McNulty for Noel Connors (70).

Kilkenny: Eoin Murphy; Paul Murphy, Joey Holden, Shane Prendergast; Padraig Walsh, Kieran Joyce, Diarmuid Cody; Cillian Buckley, Conor Fogarty; Walter Walsh, Richie Hogan, TJ Reid; Jonjo Farrell, Colin Fennelly, Mark Kelly.

Scorers: TJ Reid (0-7; 0-6f), Padraig Walsh, Richie Hogan and Colin Fennelly (0-1 each).

Substitute: James Maher for Paul Kelly (48 mins).

Referee: Alan Kelly (Galway).

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