Kilkenny gained a modicum of revenge for last summer’s Championship defeat when seeing off Waterford by eight points on a heavy Walsh Park sod.
Before a 5,859-strong gate, Brian Cody’s side were in command from the off and enjoyed a six-point advantage at the break (0-11 to 0-05) following an opening half in which Waterford registered only one point from play.
And in the wake of their second half effort in Thurles which also yielded only a single score from play, there’s little doubt that this paltry scoring return will be pored over by Derek McGrath and his management team in the coming nights.
Kilkenny led by three points after 13 minutes thanks to white flaggers from John Donnelly, a brace of TJ Reid frees and a fine effort by man of the match Martin Keoghan, who ended the day with five points from play.
Waterford’s sole response came a Pauric Mahony free after four minutes. Mahony converted his second free on 17, which was rapidly followed by singles from Reid (a free), Maurice Shanahan and a mammoth effort by the outstanding Tadhg de Burca.
Reid and Mahony exchanged frees in the 20th and 22nd minutes, with Reid adding another point, this time from a 65, in the 25th minute.
Keoghan turned over another superb point from wide on the left in the 31st minute, with Reid adding two more, shortly after Kilkenny goalkeeper Eoin Murphy had brilliantly turned away Tom Devine’s well-struck shot.
John Donnelly turned over his second of the afternoon in stoppage time, while the half’s scoring was completed via an Austin Gleeson free.
Kilkenny weathered Waterford’s third quarter purple patch, primarily led by Pauric Mahony’s free taking, and struck for home in the 51st minute thanks to TJ Reid’s well-taken goal, following a fine pass from Lester Ryan.
Deise substitute Stephen Bennett scuffed a 53rd minute penalty, which Eoin Murphy comfortably dealt with, with Kilkenny, spearheaded by Reid and the excellent Keoghan, outscoring the hosts by 0-08 to 1-02 between then and Fergal Horgan’s full-time whistle.
Tommy Ryan’s injury-time goal improved the cosmetics for Waterford, but there was little concealing the disappointment of management afterwards ahead of next Sunday’s trip to Páirc Uí Chaoimh.
Waterford: I O’Regan; S Fives, B Coughlan, N Connors; T de Burca (0-01), A Gleeson (0-01f), Philip Mahony; J Barron, C Gleeson; K Moran, Pauric Mahony (0-08, 0-07f, 0-01 65), T Devine (0-01); J Dillon, M Shanahan, M Kearney.
Subs used: C Dunford (0-01) for M Kearney, P Curran for A Gleeson, S Bennett for J Dillon, DJ Foran for M Shanahan, T Ryan (1-00) for Pauric Mahony.
Kilkenny: E Murphy; J Holden, P Walsh, P Deegan; C Delaney, C Buckley, E Morrissey; L Ryan, C O’Shea; M Keoghan (0-05), TJ Reid (1-11, 0-09f, 0-01 65), P Lyng; B Ryan, W Walsh, J Donnelly (0-02).
Subs used: L Blanchfield for B Ryan, J Maher (0-01) for C O’Shea, L Scanlon (0-01) for L Ryan.
Referee: F Horgan (Tipperary)