Kilkenny 1-23 Waterford 1-14 (AET)
Waterford’s reign as All-Ireland minor hurling champions ended when they lost the semi-final to Kilkenny after extra-time at Croke Park.
Both sides had chances to win it coming up to the end of normal time, but in the end an additional 20 minutes was needed to separate them.
The Cats were far stronger, outscoring the Deise 1-06 to a single point in the extra periods. Substitute John Walsh got a brilliant goal after 74 minutes to settle the issue.
They will play the winner of the other semi-final between Limerick and Galway in the decider next month.
Waterford had five players back from last year’s brilliant All-Ireland title triumph.
Forward Shane Bennet, Colm Roche and Patrick Curran all started in that win over Galway, while Conor Gleeson and Shane Ryan both came on as substitutes.
However, despite this experience they looked the more nervous during the first half and by the break they trailed by four - 0-10 to 0-06.
A strong breeze was blowing around Croke Park and though it was tough to read, it generally favoured the Déise in the opening period.
But they were on the back foot for most of it, with Kilkenny’s half-backs and midfield in charge and the likes of Sean Morrissey and Alan Murphy picking off the scores.
Waterford did have a good goal chance after just nine minutes, but full-forward Patrick Curran was expertly hooked by corner-back Cathal McGrath just as he was pulling the trigger.
The Cats were definitely the better team in the first half, though neither side was particularly economical in their shooting - firing seven wides apiece before the break.
Waterford’s radar was no better in the second half and they hit another seven, hurting their chances in a tight game.
A brilliant Bennet goal two minutes after the restart following good work from the impressive Andy Molumby got the Déise back into this game.
Shortly after they were level, though they had to live on their nerves with goalkeeper Billy Nolan pulling of a spectacular save from the Cats’ Luke Scanlon.
Kilkenny’s Murphy, who was flawless with the dead ball, then blazed a low shot just wide.
The Cats had their noses in front coming into the final five minutes, but Waterford showed massive heart.
A pair of converted frees from Patrick Curran and a point from his brother Cormac saw them lead at the death.
Murphy put over a pressure ’65’ right on the stroke of the hour, after Billy Nolan pulled off another smart save from John Walsh, to force extra-time.
The Cats were dominant during extra-time as Waterford visibly wilted. They moved two points up when substitute Walsh scored a brilliant goal with six minutes remaining.
He did well to pick a low pass, turn and even though he lost his hurley he buried the ball into the net with a powerful kick.
Murphy only hit a single wide all day and he ended with 11 points beside his name, including seven frees and three ’65’s.
Kilkenny: D Brennan, T Walsh, C Delaney, C McGrath, P Lyng, J Cleere, D Joyce, C Browne (0-01), L Scalon, S Morrissey (0-02), R Butler, B Ryan (0-01), A Murphy (0-11, 7f, 3 ’65’), L Blanchfield (0-05), R Corcoran (0-02).
Subs: J Walsh (1-01) for Ryan, E Kenny for R Butler, A Gaffney for Browne, L Hennessy for Kenny, B Ryan for A Gaffney, C Browne for R Corcoran.
Waterford: B Nolan, D Prendergast, E Hayden, M Cronin, C Prunty, C Gleeson, J Mullaney, D Lyons, A Molumby (0-03), S Bennett (1-00), C Roche (0-01), C Curran (0-02), P Hogan, P Curran (0-06, 4f), S Ryan (0-01).
Subs: E Meaney (0-01) for S Ryan, S Murray for J Mullaney, J Allen for A Molumby, S Ryan for C Roche, A O’Sullivan for P Hogan.
Referee: J Keenan (Wicklow)