Kilkenny qualified for a sixth consecutive All-Ireland Hurling final and their 12th final in 14 years with a six-point victory over Waterford at Croke Park in front of a 31,634 crowd.
The foundations for victory were laid in a first half in which Richie Hogan grabbed two goals while Henry Shefflin finished with a seven-point total for a Kilkenny side now awaiting the winner of next weekend’s second semi-final between Tipperary and Dublin.
Kilkenny’s began well and a high work rate put pressure on Waterford from the off and it was this intensity which gave Richie Hogan the opportunity to burst through and smash in a goal after just three minutes.
When Michael Fennelly and Henry Shefflin both pointed it gave Kilkenny a five points lead, but Waterford settled into the game with John Mullane and Seamus Prendergast registering points, and Pauric Mahony converting a couple of frees.
However with the half back line of Tommy Walsh, Brian Hogan and J.J. Delaney putting in a strong display Kilkenny continued to dominate and four points in succession, including Michael Fennelly’s second, restored the Cats’ five points advantage. However in the 25th minute Kilkenny were caught by a good Mullane goal when he collected Seamus Prendergast’s pass to the left of the Kilkenny goal and beat David Herity with a fiercely struck angled shot.
Eoin Kelly reduced the difference to two points, but Kilkenny finished the half strongly when a well placed pass from Colin Fennelly sent Richie Hogan in for his second goal, a skilful two touch finish beating Clinton Hennessy.
Kilkenny led by 2-10 to 1-7 at the interval, and while Waterford’s had chances to reduce the deficit early in the second half they failed to take them. Michael Fennelly and Shefflin both pointed and with Paul Murphy, Jackie Tyrrell and Brian Hogan dominant at the back, Kilkenny continued to increase their lead. So much so that when Colin Fennelly pointed with 20 minutes remaining Kilkenny led by 10 points, 2-16 to 1-9
Waterford did not give up and narrowed the gap thanks to points from Stephen Molumphy, Maurice Shanahan, Richie Foley and John Mullane.However that as close as Davy Fitzgerald’s side could get and substitutes Paddy Hogan and Eddie Brennan both pointed to ensure a six point victory and a place in next month’s all Ireland.
Kilkenny: D. Herity, P. Murphy, N. Hickey, J. Tyrrell, T. Walsh, B. Hogan (0-1), J.J. Delaney, M. Fennelly (0-3), M. Rice (0-1), T.J. Reid (0-1), R. Power, E. Larkin (0-2), C. Fennelly (0-2), H. Shefflin (0-7, 0-4 frees), R Hogan (2-0).
Subs: P Hogan (0-1) for T.J. Reid, E. Brennan (0-1) for Ml. Rice
Waterford: C. Hennessy, D. Fives, L. Lawlor, N. Connors, T. Browne, M. Walsh, D. Prendergast, K. Moran, S. O’Sullivan, S. Prendergast (0-1), S. Molumphy (0-1), P. Mahoney (0-2, both frees), J. Mullane (1-6), S. Walsh, E. Kelly (0-3, 0-2 frees).
Subs: J. Nagle for D. Prendergast, M. Shanahan (0-2, 0-1free) for P.Mahony, T. Ryan for E.Kelly, R. Foley (0-1) for S. Walsh
Referee: B Kelly (Westmeath)
View Photo Gallery: Action shots compliments Donal Foley Gallery