Wexford 1-23 Kilkenny 0-23
Wexford won their first Leinster title in 15 years amidst crazy scenes among the 51,000 supporters at Croke Park on Sunday beating Kilkenny 1-23 to 0-23. The win now secures an All-Ireland semi-final for Wexford (first since 2008), for Brian Cody and Kilkenny they now go into the All-Ireland quarter-final where they will play either Cork or Westmeath in two weeks time.
It was a superb game of hurling to be fair. The sides went toe to toe for the first 35 minutes with only one point separating them at the break, 0-15 to 0-14 to Kilkenny. Brian Cody opted to make some changes from his starting 15 XV before throw in. Alan Murphy and James Maher replacing Cillian Buckley and Billy Ryan. Davy Fitzgerald also opted to change two players from the team he named. Shane Reck replaced his brother Damian at corner back, while St Martin’s man Jack O’Connor came in instead of Cathal Dunbar.
Conor McDonald got the opening score of the game from all of 60 yards, before TJ Reid wearing the number 31 jersey replied. Lee Chin restored the Wexford lead on 4 minutes with a routine 21 yard free. Man of the match Rory O’Connor got the first of his scores then from play to give Wexford a two-point advantage. Ballyhale Shamrocks man Colin Fennelly got a nice score from before McDonald replied for the Model County. Walter Walsh and Paul Morris then traded scores, before Reid brought it back to 0-05 to 0-04. Rory O’Connor hit Wexford’s sixth score of the half, but Reid hit two frees to tie up the scores once more. Lee Chin and James Maher then traded scores as the temperature was turned up in Croker. That man Chin knocked over a free from the 21-yard line at the Hill 16 end, after Murphy had pointed for the Noresiders. Simon Donohue restored the Wexford lead with a monstrous point from all of 80 yards.
TJ Reid levelled up the game once again from a free, Kilkenny hit two scores from play to take a two-point lead. TJ Reid and Colin Fennelly both pointing. Adrian Mullen, Kilkenny’s best forward on the day, in my opinion, traded scores with Rory O’Connor. Lee Chin hit two frees either side of a free from Reid. Chin would then go on to score a 65 before Mullen replied from play for the Cats. Rory O’Connor got his fourth from play before Diarmuid O’Keeffe closed the scoring in the half, Kilkenny led by 0-15 to 0-14.
The second half continued where the first half let off with teams trading scores. Walter Walsh got the opening score of the half, before Faythe Harriers man Chin knocked over a free from midfield. O’Keeffe levelled up matters 0-16 each on 40 minutes. Kilkenny then had a goal chance. Colin Fennelly running down on goal only to be denied by the excellent Mark Fanning at the Hill 16 end. Reid knocked over the resulting 65. McDonald hit a nice score over for Wexford. Lee Chin doubled the difference, but Kilkenny were on level terms again thanks to Ger Aylward and Reid in what was a superb point from the Cusack Stand after giving a dummy. Eoin Murphy landed a long-range free which sent the Kilkenny crowd into loud cheers, but Wexford supporters were cheering not long after as the Slaneysiders took back the lead with Chin and Jack O’Connor landing points. It was all square on 56 minutes when the impressive Adrian Mullen knocked over his third score of the game.
Conor McDonald from play and TJ Reid (free) traded scores before Reid knocked over one from play. Then came the games decisive moment. Rory O’Connor running through the heart of the Kilkenny defence only to be dragged down inside the box to leave John Keenan with no option but to award a penalty. The penalty was expertly dispatched by Fanning past his opposite number Murphy 1-21 to 0-22. Liam Og McGovern made it a three-point game not long after and the Wexford tails were up. TJ Reid cut the gap to two points but Chin who didn’t miss a free all game landed another from distance. Colin Fennelly had a big goal chance at the death but his toe-poked effort went wide of the post. Wexford held on amid joyous scenes in the stands for Wexford supporters who will now make the journey to Croke Park in 3 weeks time for an All-Ireland semi-final.
Wexford – M Fanning (1-0pen); S Murphy, L Ryan, S Donohoe (0-1); M O’Hanlon, P Foley, S Reck; D O’Keeffe (0-2), L Og McGovern (0-1); J O’Connor (0-1), L Chin (0-9, 7f, 1’65), R O’Connor (0-4); K Foley, C McDonald (0-4), P Morris (0-1). Subs: C Firman for S Reck, C Dunbar for P Morris, D Dunne for L Og McGovern, H Kehoe for C McDonald.
Kilkenny – E Murphy (0-1f); P Murphy, H Lawlor, P Walsh; E Morrissey, P Deegan, J Holden; J Maher (0-1), C Fogarty; R Leahy, TJ Reid (0-12, 9f, 5f, 3‘65), A Mullen (0-3); A Murphy (0-1), C Fennelly (0-2), W Walsh (0-2). Subs: G Aylward (0-1) for A Murphy, B Ryan for W Walsh, R Hogan for C Fennelly.
Referee – J Keenan.