All-Ireland SHC S-Final – Kilkenny v Waterford

A good script, but no fairytale finale

Kilkenny 2-23 Waterford 3-15

By Diarmuid O’Flynn for the Irish Examiner newspaper

Monday, August 10, 2009

I MET a man in Charleville on Saturday, a Cork man, bitterly bemoaning all the predictions from the soothsayers that he had been hearing and reading for the last week, about the outcome of this match. Kilkenny, we were saying, would win, not a doubt in our collective minds. “Lord God,” he said, “Are ye all scientists or what? Is there not a dreamer or a romantic among ye?” Well, yesterday in Croke Park, against a Kilkenny team hotly fancied – long before the season even started – to win their fourth All-Ireland title-in-a-row, Waterford nearly made fools of us all. Nearly, because though they did come close, gave their thousands of supporters in the near 62,000-strong crowd reason to dream right up to the final minutes, the dream never really threatened to become reality. That reality, unromantic and all as it might be, is that Kilkenny remain the benchmark in hurling. Waterford came close yesterday, played their part in a cracking contest, but Kilkenny are still champions today, and Waterford are still the nearly-men of hurling. A pity, for the dreamers and the romantics among us, a pity for the players and supporters of Waterford especially, that at a time when they’ve produced a team of such talent, they come up against this Kilkenny super-team.

Waterford were good yesterday, very good. A tally of 3-15 against any outfit in Croke Park in an All-Ireland semi-final is good clipping, good enough to win most games – 3-15 against Kilkenny on this stage at this stage is near miraculous. That Waterford came up short, well, what can you say? Credit to them, they gave it a shot, gave it their best shot, but it simply wasn’t enough. Reality again, stark reality – Kilkenny were the better team, and by more than five points. On an afternoon when four of their six starters in what is always a high-powered attack were well held by their markers, only the imperious Henry Shefflin and Eddie Brennan on song, Kilkenny still managed 2-23 – could have been 5-23. Uncharacteristically, however, on three occasions in the second half alone Kilkenny missed clear goal-scoring opportunities, the kind of golden opportunities they normally bury, and with them bury any remaining hopes the opposition might harbour.

Waterford too had their missed chances, but they were half-chances, born of fortune as much as anything else, not as clinical in the set-up as Kilkenny’s, not as clear-cut in the miss. They may even point to the two Kilkenny goals, both scored in the first half, claim they were softly conceded, the result of Waterford errors – wrong. True, the ball was turned over very easily on both occasions, but those turnovers were well out the field – the goals were created by genius, the genius of Brian Cody in the first instance when placing Henry Shefflin at full-forward to terrorise Aidan Kearney, which he did when setting up the first goal for Eddie Brennan, the genius of Tommy Walsh for the second when he picked out the aforementioned Henry from all of 80 yards with a superb long pass. So, no romance in Croke Park yesterday, and the only dream left standing is the Kilkenny dream, the dream that dare not speak its name in that so-pragmatic hurling county – the four-in-a-row.

THE big fear coming into this game, a fear shared by dreamers and pragmatists alike, was that Waterford would suffer the kind of stage-fright they suffered in last year’s All-Ireland final against the same opposition, then suffer the same kind of subsequent humiliation – 3-30 to 1-13, just to remind ourselves of the mountain Waterford had to climb. From the outset, however, it was obvious that this was going to be a different kind of game, this was going to be a real contest. In stark contrast to last year, when the match was over by the end of the first quarter, Waterford actually led after 12 minutes, 1-3 to 0-4, the goal scored by Shane Walsh after good work by Kevin Moran and Micheal ‘Brick’ Walsh. Inspired by Shefflin Kilkenny fought back, were 1-9 to 1-6 ahead after 25 minutes, when they scored their second major. Shane O’Sullivan it was with the error for Waterford, a diagonal ball that was meant for the corner but went directly instead to the unmarked Tommy Walsh (had a great battle with Eoin McGrath, shaded by the Kilkenny man but not without a struggle, probably indicative of the match overall), who did brilliantly to pick out Shefflin. Waterford came straight back from that body-blow, however, three points from free-taker Eoin Kelly (magnificent from placed balls, but oh, how Waterford could have done with his presence further out the field!) bringing them back within a goal, 2-9 to 1-9. Typical Kilkenny, however, they put the pedal to the metal again just before the break, three points in three minutes (from Richie Power, Eddie Brennan and Henry, respectively), and at 2-12 to 1-9, they were that bit more comfortable heading for the dressing-rooms.

What Waterford couldn’t afford now was a strong start by Kilkenny, allow them to build on that lead, and it almost happened – 37th minute, superb fetch, turn and solo by Richie Power, the cover drawn, handpass to Shefflin in acres of space on his own inside – overhit, ball gone wide, opportunity missed. Waterford took full advantage of that let-off, went straight upfield, and a long Tony Browne free was gathered by Shane Walsh (that man again), booted to the net; three points in it (2-12 to 2-9), we were back in a game. Again, however, the Waterford defence was split open, again it was by Richie Power, but again he failed to capitalise, this time batting wide from close range. Again Waterford took advantage of the miss, Eoin Kelly with yet another pointed free, reducing the deficit to just two points. That was as close as it was to get for the remainder of the game. Sensing the danger, Kilkenny upped the ante, Shefflin especially, and four points in five minutes, from the 44th to the 49th, put clear water between them again. Tit for tat for the next 15 minutes, during which Kilkenny missed their third clear goal opportunity before Waterford were thrown a bit of a lifeline, a soft goal from an Eoin Kelly 65 (now playing on the wing, and looking dangerous every time he came near the ball). Just four points in it again, still seven minutes remaining, wind in their sails, this was surely Waterford’s chance.

They didn’t take it, weren’t allowed take it. Again it was Kilkenny stepping up, again it was Shefflin doing the finishing, two points again putting them six clear. There was one last opportunity for drama, a goal-bound close-range Eoin Kelly volley of a John Mullane handpass superbly saved by PJ Ryan, deflected over the bar, but that was it, all she wrote. Okay, we didn’t have a romantic ending, but a decent script all the same. Waterford end the year with honour, Kilkenny survive their third decent test of the year. Still on track though, still on track.

Scorers for Kilkenny: H. Shefflin 1-14 (0-7 frees, 0-1 65); E. Brennan 1-2; E. Larkin 0-2; J. Fitzpatrick, M. Rice, R. Power, A. Fogarty, R. Hogan, 0-1 each.

Waterford: E. Kelly 1-10 (1-0 65, 0-7 frees); S. Walsh 2-0; S. O’Sullivan (s/l), K. Moran, S. Prendergast, E. McGrath, J. Mullane, 0-1 each.

Kilkenny subs: TJ Reid (for Comerford 42); R. Hogan (for Fogarty 48); D. Lyng (for Fitzpatrick 57).

Waterford subs: D. Shanahan (S. Prendergast 53); M. Shanahan (Walsh 61); J. Nagle (Molumphy 61); K. McGrath (E. McGrath 64).

Referee: B. Kelly (Westmeath).

Team News

Waterford: C Hennessy; E Murphy, A Kearney, N Connors; T Browne, M Walsh, D Prendergast; K Moran, S O’Sullivan; S Prendergast, S Molumphy, S Walsh; J Mullane, E Kelly, E McGrath.

Kilkenny: TBC

Match Preview

GAA Hurling All Ireland Senior Championship Semi-final Croke Park: Kilkenny v Waterford, 4.00pm

Referee: Barry Kelly (Westmeath)

From the web site

Last year’s disappointing All Ireland final has completely dominated all discourse ahead of Sunday’s semi-final rematch at Croke Park. The Cats claimed their third All Ireland title in a row after inflicting a crushing 26-point defeat on Davy Fitzgerald’s side. No one is predicting a similar slaughter this weekend, but it would be a brave man to suggest any possible outcome other than another comfortable Kilkenny win. It’s being dubbed as a revenge mission for the Déise, but the truth is, they got one over the Cats at the start of the year, when they beat Brian Cody’s side in a fiery National League Division One clash in Dungarvan. That game is likely to feature a lot more prominently in Fitzgerald’s pre-match speeches than the 70 minutes of torture they endured last year.

It will be interesting to see what tactics the Waterford manager adopts. Last September, he instructed his players to get stuck in from the start, which led to some ugly scenes before the whistle had been blown. The gambit backfired and it only served to anger the Cats, who devoured their opponents like only they can. Perhaps, Fitzgerald will opt to play with an extra defender between the full back and half back lines – a tactic that served Dublin well twice this year. The Dubs ran Kilkenny to six points in the Leinster final using that exact tactic, while Galway led the Cats by four points at one stage in the semi-final by defending from their full-forward line back. Inevitably, Kilkenny came good in both games, but it will give the Déise hope that they can pull off a shock.

Waterford have again held 2007 Hurler of the Year Dan Shanahan in reserve, despite the massive impact he made after his introduction with ten minutes to go in the All Ireland Quarter-final win over Galway. Shane Walsh is drafted into the starting line-up at wing-forward in place of Jamie Nagle, while Eoin McGrath starts at corner forward ahead of Shane Casey. Shanahan gave the Déise a presence on the edge of the square and he was key to setting up Shane Walsh’s late goal. That win will have given Waterford a massive jolt of confidence at a time when they were minutes away from exiting the Championship.

However, doubts remain over the make-up of their attack and John Mullane’s fellow attackers need to step up to the mark to give the prolific De La Salle clubman more assistance in the scoring stakes. Mullane has scored an incredible 1-16 from play in the Championship this year. While Eoin Kelly has scored 1-37, all but three of that haul has come from placed balls. Seamus Prendergast is next in line for Waterford with a paltry total of six points from play. It is hard to understand what exactly continues to motivate Brian Cody and his side, but it is hard to argue with the thesis purported by Daithi Reagan: that a fear of losing has now taken over from the desire to win as their primary driving force. The Cats have been given an almost mythical status and there is no doubt that another title this year will see them crowned the greatest team of all time.

Sometimes that is hard to argue with, especially when you look at the players available to Cody. The Kilkenny full-back line was awesome in the Leinster final win over Dublin, but it is likely that Noel Hickey will be parachuted straight back into to the team after recovering from a long-term injury. It is almost a cliché at this stage, but the competition for places in the Kikenny squad is probably what keeps their players on their toes throughout the year. And there is little doubt that Kilkenny will be perfectly primed come 4.00pm on Sunday afternoon. If Waterford can harness the confidence they gained with the win over Galway and the league win over the Cats in February, they can be competitive. However, they will have to be a lot more than competitive to end Kilkenny’s unbeaten Championship run over the last three years.

Verdict: Kilkenny

Match Preview


It turned into a disappointingly one-sided affair when they met in last year’s GAA All- Ireland hurling final but a much more competitive contest is expected next Sunday when Kilkenny and Waterford clash in the semi-final at Croke Park for the right to play Limerick or Tipperary in the final on September 6.

Kilkenny, bidding for a fourth successive All-Ireland win this year, arrive in Croke Park off an extended unbeaten run, the latest of which saw them retain the Leinster title with wins over Galway and Dublin. Waterford took a more circuitous route to the semi-final, drawing with Limerick before winning the replay and advancing to the Munster final where they lost to Tipperary.

However, they bounced back in the All-Ireland quarter-final where they emulated Kilkenny by beating Galway, albeit in different circumstances.

Paths to the Semi-finals


Kilkenny 2-20 Galway 3-13 (Leinster semi-final) Kilkenny 2-18 Dublin 0-18 (Leinster final) Average For: 2-19 Average Against: 1-17

Kilkenny Scorers

Henry Shefflin………0-16 (0-12 frees, 0-1 ‘65’) Martin Comerford…2-4 Aidan Fogarty………1-4 Eoin Larkin………….0-7 Eddie Brennan……..1-1 Derek Lyng………….0-3 TJ Reid……………….0-1 Michael Rice……….0-1 Tommy Walsh…….0-1


Waterford 0-11 Limerick 1-8 (Munster semi-final) Draw Waterford 0-25 Limerick 0-17 (Munster semi-final) Replay Tipperary 4-14 Waterford 2-16 (Munster final) Waterford 1-16 Galway 0-18 (All-Ireland quarter-final) Average For: 1-17; Average Against: 1-15

Waterford Scorers

Eoin Kelly………………….1-37 (1-33 frees, 0-1 ‘65’) John Mullane…………… 1-16 Seamus Prendergast…..0-6 Stephen Molumphy….. 0-3 Shane Walsh……………..1-0 Kevin Moran……………..0-2 Shane O’Sullivan…….. .0-1 Jack Kennedy………….. 0-1 Dan Shanahan…………..0-1 Richie Foley………………0-1

Last Championship Clash

Kilkenny 3-30 Waterford 1-13 (2008 All-Ireland final) Kilkenny crushed Waterford with a brilliant performance which took them to the easiest of victories. Kilkenny led by 0-6 to 0-3 after eleven minutes but by half-time they were 2-16 to 0-5 ahead after a string of scores, including two goals from Eddie Brennan. Eoin Larkin added another Kilkenny goal in the 48th minute as they raced to a 26-point win.

Kilkenny: PJ Ryan; M Kavanagh, N Hickey, J Tyrrell; T Walsh, B Hogan, JJ Delaney; ‘Cha’ Fitzpatrick (0-2), D Lyng (0-3); H Shefflin (0-8), M Comerford, E Larkin (1-4); E Brennan (2-4), R Power (0-2), A Fogarty (0-3).

Subs: TJ Reid (0-4) for Comerford, J McGarry for Ryan.

Waterford: C Hennessy; A Kearney, D Prendergast, E Murphy; T Browne, K McGrath, K Moran; M Walsh, J Nagle; D Shanahan, S Molumphy, S Prendergast; E McGrath, J Mullane (0-3), E Kelly (1-9).

Subs: J Kennedy for S Prendergast, P Flynn for E McGrath, S O’Sullivan for D Prendergast, D Bennett (0-1) for Shanahan.

Last Competitive Clash

Waterford 2-17 Kilkenny 1-16 (NHL, 2 March 2009, Walsh Park) An early season boost for Waterford for whom goals by Dan Shanahan and Stephen Molumphy proved crucial.

Waterford: C Hennessy; E Murphy, D Prendergast, N Connors; R Foley, M Walsh, J Murray; S O’Sullivan, J Nagle (0-1); G Hurney, K McGrath (0-9), S Molumphy (1-0); J Kennedy, S Prendergast (0-4), S Walsh (0-1).

Subs: E Kelly (0-1), D Shanahan (1-1), P Hurney for S Prendergast, M Shanahan for P Hurney.

Kilkenny: PJ Ryan; J Dalton, S Cummins, J Tyrrell; T Walsh, B Hogan, J Ryall (0-1); J Tennyson (0-2), M Rice (0-1); E Brennan (0-2), W O’Dwyer, E Larkin (0-1); M Grace (0-1), R Power (1-7), A Fogarty (0-1).

Subs: TJ Reid for Walsh, C Hickey for Tyrrell, R Hogan for Fogarty.

Previous Kilkenny-Waterford Championship Clashes

This will be the 8th championship meeting between Kilkenny and Waterford. Kilkenny won five of the previous seven to Waterford’s one while there was one draw.

Waterford’s sole success came in the 1959 All-Ireland final replay.

2008: Kilkenny 3-30 Waterford 1-13 (All-Ireland final)

2004: Kilkenny 3-12 Waterford 0-18 (All-Ireland semi-final)

1998: Kilkenny 1-11 Waterford 1-10 (All-Ireland semi-final)

1963: Kilkenny 4-17 Waterford 6-8 (All-Ireland final)

1959: Waterford 3-12 Kilkenny 1-10 (All-Ireland final replay)

1959: Waterford 1-17 Kilkenny 5-5 (All-Ireland final draw)

1957: Kilkenny 4-10 Waterford 3-12 (All-Ireland final)


• Kilkenny have remained unbeaten in the championship since losing to Galway in the 2005 All-Ireland semi-final. They have won 16 successive games since then.

• Waterford are bidding to reach the All-Ireland final for a second successive year, something they never previously achieved.

• Kilkenny are attempting to reach the All-Ireland final for the 10th time in twelve years. The only seasons they missed out on in that period were 2001 and 2005 when they lost on both occasions to Galway in the All-Ireland semifinal.

• It’s 50 years since Waterford recorded their sole championship victory over Kilkenny when they beat them by 3-12 to 1-10 in the 1959 All-Ireland final replay.

• Kilkenny beat Waterford by 3-12 to 0-18 the last time the counties met in the All-Ireland semi-final in 2004.