Waterford edge out the Cats by a single point
Waterford gained a measure of revenge for last August’s heart-breaking All-Ireland semi-final replay defeat to Kilkenny when they edged out the Cats by a single point at Nowlan Park in Round 1 of the Allianz League.
Once again there was nothing between the sides in a game dominated by the wintery elements. Backed by the breeze in the first half Waterford took control and only a brilliant save from All Star goalkeeper Eoin Murphy denied the visitors an early goal.
But Waterford’s Patrick Curran did find the net in the first quarter for what effectively proved the winning score.
Kilkenny kept the scoreboard ticking over primarily through the free taking of TJ Reid in the first period.
At the other end Waterford’s marksman Pauric Mahony was equally influential and Derek McGrath’s side held a four point interval lead (1-11 to 0-10).
Predictably the visitors became very defensive in the second half as they pulled the majority of their players behind the ball and the contest boiled down to whether Brian Cody’s side could catch them.
The home side’s defence did their business well restricting Waterford – who failed to score for 21 minutes –to just four points.
But uncharacteristically the Cats couldn’t raise a green flag though they had all the momentum in the closing stages and looked likely to snatch a draw when it was announced that there were be four minutes of injury time to be played.
In the event five minutes of lost time was played but although a hat trick of points from TJ Reid 65, a long range Eoin Murphy free and a Kieran Joyce point from play left the minimum between the sides Waterford held out.
Kilkenny had chances to grab a share of the points but Murphy sliced one long range free and then at the death Richie Hogan missed an opportunity.
The win means Waterford join Tipperary and Cork at the top of Division 1A.
Meanwhile in Division 1B last year’s beaten All-Ireland semi-finalists Galway underlined their credentials for a quick return to the top flight when they trounced a hapless Offaly side in Tullamore by 26 points.
The home side conceded six goals and on the basis of his performance face a major battle to avoid being relegation from the top 12.
Davy Fitzgerald’s Wexford are likely to be their closest challengers. Playing against the wind they made a slow start against Limerick and trailed by six points at the break (0-10; 0-4).
Their goalkeeper Mark Fanning made a brilliant save early in the second half which was arguably the game’s turning point.
Backed by the elements and crowd the home side turned the screw and a Lee Chin points gave them the lead for the first time in the first quarter (0-13; 0-12).
A goal soon afterwards from substitute Conor McDonald looked set to seal the win but Limerick fought back but went down in the end by three points.
Kerry made a great start to the 2017 season under new boss Fintan O’Connor. They scored three goals in their comfortable nine points win over Laois in Tralee.
Allianz HL Division 1A round 1
Waterford 1-15; Kilkenny 0-17
Allianz HL Division 1B round 1
Galway 6-23; Offaly 1-12
Kerry 3-14; Laois 0-19
Wexford 1-14; Limerick 0-14
Allianz HL Division 2A round 1
Antrim 0-20 London 0-13
Kildare 1-18, Armagh 1-15
Carlow 1-13; Westmeath 1-11
Allianz HL Division 2B round 1
Wicklow 2-17; Roscommon 0-7
Meath 4-21 Down 1-10,
Derry 1-14; Mayo 1-13
Allianz HL Division 3A round 1
Donegal 2-23; Louth 1-14
Monaghan 3-15; Tyrone 1-11 Healy
Allianz HL Division 3B round 1
Longford 2-13; Fermanagh 0-7