Deise’s Relegation Woes Deepened As Cats Find their Claws

Brian Flannery Reports

With both sides rooted to the bottom of Division 1A of the League prior to Sunday’s throw-in, this was a derby of even greater consequence than usual.
A dominant opening half display from Brian Cody’s Kilkenny laid firm foundations for this victory and a crucial second half goal from TJ Reid helped dissuade their hosts of any comeback thoughts.Manager Derek McGrath made 10 changes to the starting line-up from the side that suffered a nine-point defeat to Tipperary in the previous round. Waterford had 10 of the starting line-up from last September’s All-Ireland Final for this round three tie.
Right from the off Kilkenny began to stamp their authority on the game and after 20 minutes they led by double scores 0-6 to 0-3 with talisman TJ Reid unerring from placed balls.

Waterford laboured with former hurler of the year Austin Gleeson ineffectual at right-half forward and his out-numbered colleagues in attack finding life difficult. Tadhg de Burca landed a fabulous point from centre-field during this period after a trademark catch and sortie forward, this was Waterford’s sole score from play in the opening half.
Newcomers Martin Keoghan and John Donnelly from Thomastown both landed a pair of points from play in the opening half with Captain Cillian Buckley and midfield veteran Lester Ryan getting through a mountain of work. After 30 minutes a returning Tom Devine did very well to shake off a challenge from his marker Padraig Walsh before forcing a fantastic save from Kilkenny’s netminder Eoin Murphy.

Waterford captain Kevin Moran finds his path impeded by a black and amber wall at Walsh Park on Sunday last. 								| Photos: Joe Cashin

Waterford captain Kevin Moran finds his path impeded by a black and amber wall at Walsh Park on Sunday last. | Photos: Joe Cashin


But five points on the spin though gave the Leinster side a comfortable 0-11 to 0-4 lead approaching the break. Austin Gleeson landed a monster free from inside his own half to leave Waterford with it all to do, trailing 0-11 to 0-5 at half-time. Surprisingly this was to be Gleeson’s last act (on precautionary grounds, as stated post-match) as he was withdrawn at the break along with Mikey Kearney, while Patrick Curran and Colin Dunford entered the fray.Both Curran and Dunford was on the scoresheet early as the home side hit five out of six of the opening points in the second to trail by just three points (0-12 to 0-9) after 49 minutes.
But just as Waterford looked to be making a contest of this they suffered a hammer blow when conceding the games’ opening goal in the 52nd minute.
TJ Reid reacted quickest after surviving a challenge from Tadhg de Burca when a cross-field ball from Lester Ryan caught the home defence flatfooted as the Ballyhale man rammed the ball past a stranded Ian O’Regan in the Waterford goal (1-12 to 0-9).
Waterford captain Kevin Moran finds his path impeded by a black and amber wall at Walsh Park on Sunday last. 								| Photos: Joe Cashin

Waterford captain Kevin Moran finds his path impeded by a black and amber wall at Walsh Park on Sunday last. | Photos: Joe Cashin


Moments later Waterford were presented with a great chance to reply immediately when substitute Patrick Curran was taken down by goalkeeper Eoin Murphy with referee Fergal Horgan awarding a penalty and brandishing a yellow to the Glenmore star. However, Stephen Bennett’s poorly stuck effort was easily saved by Murphy and cleared to safety. The next six points were shared equally with Kilkenny maintaining a six-point advantage (1-15 to 0-12) with 10 minutes of normal time to play. The former kingpins then reeled off four points in succession from Martin Keoghan (2), James Maher and TJ Reid to swell their lead to 10 points by the end of normal time. Portlaw’s DJ Foran drew another good save from Eoin Murphy before Tommy Ryan finally netted in injury time with the two points already long since secured by Brian Cody’s men.Fittingly, this observer’s man of the match TJ Reid (TG4 opted for Martin Keoghan) landed another free for the last score of the game.

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