Deise well and truly skinned
Deflating. Dispiriting. Devastating. Down? Not quite. A date with Dublin next weekend shall decide Waterford’s Division 1A fate, but it’s going to take something special to get the pep back in the Deise’s step after two trouncings on successive weekends.
Sadly, losing to Kilkenny hardly represents a novel experience, and for 40 minutes in a breezy Nowlan Park on Sunday last, Derek McGrath’s men were very competitive and gave a good account of themselves.
The roof may have blown off the old stand in Nowlan Park during the recent storm, but the sky fell in on Waterford during a concluding 26 minutes in which the score read 2-11 to 0-3 in the Cats’ favour.
And the saddest thing of all from a Deise perspective? That Kilkenny ran up such a heavy score without even cranking into top gear.
Yet it had all began so promisingly for Waterford, with two Pauric Mahony frees and a fine effort from Jamie Barron (assisted by Maurice Shanahan) putting them three points ahead after seven minutes.
Remarkably, Kilkenny didn’t open their account until the 16th minute after Henry Shefflin (who unusually find his range with some early frees) picked out Colin Fennelly who struck the ball between Stephen O’Keeffe’s uprights.
Shefflin broke his duck moments later after fine work by Richie Hogan and he was on target again with an 18th minute free after Michael Walsh illegally impeded Eoin Larkin.
The Cats’ first goal arrived in the 20th minute, as Jonjo Farrell, one of Brian Cody’s 2014 newcomers, knocked the ball in from point-blank range after Eoin Larkin appeared to have been upended by Tadhg de Búrca.
Sixty seconds later, the impressive Walter Walsh, so commanding under the high ball on Sunday last, opened his account after a fine solo run, only for Mahony to convert a 22nd minute free to leave just a goal between the sides.
Three minutes later, the Ballygunner clubman again found his range with a terrific 70-metre free before the lively Fennelly soloed and struck his second point of the afternoon.
Mahony struck another free in the 28th minute, followed moments later by Shane O’Sullivan’s excellent 60-metre point after being fed through by Stephen Molumphy to leave Waterford trailing by only one point.
A poor clearance by Jamie Nagle (substituted moments later) fell straight into the waiting path of Colin Fennelly who fired over his third point of the half.
Just moments after replacing Nagle, in a Waterford team which had Jamie Barron positioned in a deep defensive role, leaving ‘Brick’ Walsh to sweep, Ray Barry opened his account to reduce the Deise’s arrears to a point once more.
But the final point of the half was black and amber in hue, as Richie Hogan capitalised on a loose Shane O’Sullivan pass to leave Kilkenny 1-7 to 0-8 up at the break.
Upon the resumption of play, the teams traded points via Cats wing back Brian Kennedy and a gloriously struck 40-metre sideline cut from Deise senior debutant Austin Gleeson.
But there was precious little time for Waterford to savour Gleeson’s moment of class, as Eoin Larkin, again from point-blank range, rifled home a second Kilkenny goal following a pass from Richie Power.
Brian O’Sullivan kept Waterford in the hunt thanks to his 42nd minute point but Henry Shefflin ensured Kilkenny remained in command after blocking Jamie Barron’s attempted clearance and slotting the sliothar over the bar.
The excellent Fennelly and lively Barry traded white flaggers in the 43rd and 44th minutes respectively before Walter Walsh finished off another powerful run, again in the 44th minute, to send the Cats six points clear.
After Stephen Molumphy appeared to have been bundled over just yards from the Kilkenny goal line (following which no Waterford player appeared to protest that particular decision), the hosts took over. The sky was about to fall in on the visitors.
Shefflin and Richie Power added points in the 46th and 47th minutes before a sweeping move involving Eoin Larkin and Colin Fennelly played full-forward Mark Kelly in for the hosts’ third goal. In the space of four minutes, arrears of six points had become 11, and the signs were looking increasingly ominous for Waterford.
The Richies Power and Hogan added further points for the NHL holders before Ray Barry, a rare ray of sunshine for the Deise on Sunday last, pointed again in the 52nd minute.
Another Shefflin free left Waterford 13 points adrift, before Kelly, again from point-blank range, slotted home Kilkenny’s fourth goal.
Were it a boxing match, the towel would surely have been thrown in by then, but alas the Queensbury Rules couldn’t be availed of, as Kilkenny conducted wave after wave of attack. By then, Waterford’s shape and confidence were nowhere to be seen as the Cats, like Clare the previous Sunday, put their white and blue-clad opponents to the sword.
Shane Fives prevented a fifth Kilkenny goal in the 58th minute when scooping the ball off the line, but points from Walsh, Larkin, Hogan and Shefflin heaped further misery upon the beleaguered Deisemen.
Shefflin pointed again from a 64th minute free; with Brian O’Sullivan ending a 15-minute wait for Waterford’s next score three minutes later, by which time many patrons were making for the exits.
Eoin Larkin completed Kilkenny’s scoring in the 68th minute, while Ray Barry, who looked full of menace on those few occasions the ball made its way to him, struck Waterford’s 14th and final point a minute from time.
This 20-point defeat is one which Waterford cannot afford to leave lingering in their system given the immediacy of their play-off clash with the Dubs.
And with the Munster Championship less than eight weeks away, Derek McGrath and his selectors must lift their men off their knees and get them believing again. And fast.
Kilkenny: Eoin Murphy; Paul Murphy, JJ Delaney, Joey Holden; Brian Kennedy, Jackie Tyrrell, Cillian Buckley; Padraig Walsh, Richie Hogan; Walter Walsh, Colin Fennelly, Henry Shefflin; Jonjo Farrell, Mark Kelly, Eoin Larkin.
Substitutes: Richie Power for Jonjo Farrell (28 mins), Kieran Joyce for Brian Kennedy (51), Lester Ryan for Padraig Walsh (55) and TJ Reid for Richie Hogan (58).
Scorers: Henry Shefflin (0-7; 0-5f), Mark Kelly (2-0), Eoin Larkin (1-2), Colin Fennelly (0-4), Walter Walsh and Richie Hogan (0-3 each), Jonjo Farrell (1-0), Richie Power (0-2), Brian Kennedy (0-1).
Waterford: Stephen O’Keeffe; Tadgh de Búrca, Shane Fives, Noel Connors; Jamie Nagle, Michael Walsh, Philip Mahony; Kevin Moran, Shane O’Sullivan; Jamie Barron, Pauric Mahony, Stephen Molumphy; Maurice Shanahan, Brian O’Sullivan, Austin Gleeson.
Substitutes: Barry Coughlan for Jamie Nagle (32 mins), Ray Barry for Maurice Shanahan (34), Seamus Prendergast for Austin Gleeson (49) and Ryan Donnelly for Jamie Barron (60).
Scorers: Pauric Mahony (0-5f), Ray Barry (0-4), Brian O’Sullivan (0-2), Shane O’Sullivan and Jamie Barron (0-1 each).
Referee: James Owens (Wexford).
Dermot Keyes at Nowlan Park
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