Kilkenny win relegation four pointer
NHL Division 1A Sunday 18th February 2018
Waterford remain rooted to the bottom of Division 1A as a hungry Kilkenny eased their relegation worries at a sodden Walsh Park on Sunday.
The away team led from start to finish. 2015 hurler of the year TJ Reid starred on his return with 1-11 including the decisive goal on 51 minutes. Eoin Murphy denied Tom Devine in spectacular fashion four minutes before the break and his second half penalty stop ensured that the two league points returned Noreside. Rookie wing forward Martin Keoghan put his hand up with 0-5.
Five members of a misfiring home attack were replaced before the finish. The towering Tadhg De Burca offered leadership from centre back. A magnificent catch led to a monster point from 70 metres, Waterford’s only score in open play during the first half. The troublesome Tom Dèvine worried Padraig Walsh on his comeback game.
The hosts trailed 0-11 to 0-5 at the break but closed within three points during the third quarter as half time substitutes Patrick Curran and Colin Dunford split the posts. Reid then outmuscled De Burca to shoot to the top corner of the net. Curran was upended by Murphy for a Waterford penalty at the city end. Stephen Bennett struck his effort into the ground however and Murphy saved comfortably.
Two Reid frees offered Brian Cody’s men breathing space before subs Luke Scanlon and James Maher got in on the act. Keoghan increased his tally to five. Thomas Ryan finally got the better of Murphy two minutes into stoppage time. The Déise haven’t recorded a league win on home soil since February 2016.
A third straight defeat and a score difference of minus 24 points means that Waterford require an unlikely sequence of results to avoid a relegation play-off. They travel to Páirc Uí Chaoimh next Sunday and finish with Clare at home.
Manager Derek McGrath was disappointed that their efforts behind the scenes over the past fortnight didn’t translate into a victory. “No qualms with the result. We’ll just have to work harder, we obviously didn’t work hard enough in the last two weeks. We felt we really prepared well. We targeted the game in terms of the build-up to it and we were highly motivated. I won’t say we’re in a rut of confidence but we’re certainly searching for our form. When you’re in hell, keep going and that’s what we intend doing.”
Scorers for Kilkenny: TJ Reid 1-11 (9fs, 1 65’), Martin Keoghan 0-5, John Donnelly 0-2, Luke Scanlon, James Maher 0-1 each.
Scorers for Waterford: Pauric Mahony 0-7 (6fs, 1 65’), Thomas Ryan 1-0, Tadhg De Burca, Austin Gleeson (f), Patrick Curran, Colin Dunford, Tom Devine 0-1 each.
Kilkenny: Eoin Murphy; Joey Holden, Padraig Walsh, Paddy Deegan; Conor Delaney, Cillian Buckley, Enda Morrissey; Lester Ryan, Conor O’Shea; Martin Keoghan, TJ Reid, Pat Lyng; Billy Ryan, Walter Walsh, John Donnelly.
Subs: Liam Blanchfield for Ryan (33), James Maher for O’Shea (42), Luke Scanlon for Ryan (55).
Waterford: Ian O’Regan; Shane Fives, Barry Coughlan, Noel Connors; Conor Gleeson, Tadhg De Burca, Philip Mahony; Jamie Barron, Kevin Moran; Austin Gleeson, Pauric Mahony, Jake Dillon; Michael Kearney, Maurice Shanahan, Tom Devine.
Subs: Colin Dunford for Gleeson (H-T), Patrick Curran for Kearney (H-T), Stephen Bennett for Dillon (45), DJ Foran for Shanahan (58), Thomas Ryan for Mahony (62).
Referee: Fergal Horgan (Tipperary)