Goals proved to be the golden currency for joint defending champions Kilkenny as they halted Waterford's winning run in the Allianz Hurling League to book a semi-final place against Cork.

A first half goal from Cillian Buckley proved to be a huge boost at a time when the Cats were finding life difficult at UPMC Nowlan Park. Then a second goal from Billy Ryan in the 46th minute put Kilkenny into a strong 2-14 to 0-13 lead, and they were never seriously troubled afterwards.

Waterford, who also went through to the semi-finals where they will face Wexford, were reduced to 14 men in the 61st minute when DJ Foran was shown a straight red card following a foul on Mikey Butler that was more awkward than malicious.

The losers showed grit and claimed the next three points through Austin Gleeson, Dessie Hutchinson and Gleeson again, but when Kilkenny freetaker Alan Murphy halted their gallop, punishing a foul on John Donnelly, the home side eased away to victory.

Brian Cody directs his Kilkenny side to victory over Waterford

The action was fast and open from the throw-in. The mood was set early on when Alan Murphy and Mikey Kiely traded points. A Pauric Mahony free was followed by a Walter Walsh point, following a beautiful 40-metre crossfield pass from Martin Keoghan, but for a while afterwards Waterford enjoyed the better of things.

The Suirsiders drove on and produced some really impressive high-intensity, fast-moving, possession-based hurling during the rest of the quarter. Points from Mahony and Austin Gleeson set them on their way to a 0-07 to 0-03 lead by the 12th minute, and they could easily have been better off.

Gleeson pierced the home defence and sent a sizzling shot, left to right, across the face of the Kilkenny goal in the 14th minute at a time Waterford were on top and threatening.

Kilkenny needed a lift, and Padraig Walsh provided it in the shape of a good point in the 16th minute. The Cats improved slowly after that, with the two Walshs, Padraig and Walter, going well on the '40'.

On 25 minutes Kilkenny regained the lead. Midfielder Cillian Buckley took a short pass from David Blanchfield on the 40, and he charged through to score a good goal to level it (1-07 to 0-10), much to the delight of the near 8,000 crowd.

The winners kicked on with points from Adrian Mullen, after two earlier misses, and Alan Murphy and they reached half-time showing 1-10 to 0-11 in front after enduring a tough enough time.

The winners exploded into lift at the start of the new half. Billy Ryan, Walter and Padraig Walsh all threw over points within three minutes as Waterford seemed a bit hesitant. An Austin Gleeson point from a free was followed by an exchange of minor scores between Cian Kenny and Conor Dalton before Kilkenny plundered their second goal.

In the build-up Padraig Walsh was racing through, but as he attempted to shoot for a point he was hooked by Carthach Daly. However, the ball broke kindly for Billy Ryan and when a gap opened up, he lashed the ball into the net.

Waterford never really regained the zip shown earlier in the game, apart from the short period after the sending off, and while they chased hard to the end, they never looked like saving the day.

Kilkenny: E Murphy (0-01); M Butler, H Lawlor, T Walsh; M Carey, R Reid, D Blanchfield; C Kenny (0-01), C Buckley (1-00); W Walsh (0-03), P Walsh (0-05), A Mullen (0-01); B Ryan (1-01), M Keoghan, A Murphy (0-05, 4f).

Subs: E Cody (0-02) for Mullen (41); J Maher (0-01) for Kenny (56); J Donnelly (0-01) for Keoghan (58).

Waterford: B Nolan; C Wadding, I Daly, S McNulty; J Fagan (0-01), T de Búrca, C Dalton (0-01); C Daly (0-01), D Lyons (0-01); N Montgomery (0-03), A Gleeson (0-07, 4f, 1 65), P Mahony (0-03); D Hutchinson (0-02), M Kiely (0-01), C Dunford (0-01).

Subs: DJ Foran for Mahony (ht); S Bennett for Kiely (48); K Bennett for Dunford (52); M Harney for Wadding (59); M Mahoney for Lyons (64)

Referee: J. Murphy (Limerick).