Saturday 19 August 2017

Davy Fitz leads magnificent Wexford to league semi-final with memorable win over Kilkenny

WEXFORD 2-18 KILKENNY 0-19

Colin Fennelly of Kilkenny races clear of Diarmuid O’Keeffe of Wexford during the Allianz Hurling League Division 1 Quarter-Final match between Kilkenny and Wexford at Nowlan Park in Kilkenny. Photo by Brendan Moran/Sportsfile
Colin Fennelly of Kilkenny races clear of Diarmuid O’Keeffe of Wexford during the Allianz Hurling League Division 1 Quarter-Final match between Kilkenny and Wexford at Nowlan Park in Kilkenny. Photo by Brendan Moran/Sportsfile

Vincent Hogan in Nowlan Park

Resurgent Wexford duly stormed the lions' den in Nowlan Park, recording only a third victory from their last 21 meetings with Kilkenny to reach a National League semi-final.

It was huge performance by Davy Fitzgerald's men who led virtually all the way in a pulsating seconf-half before Conor McDonald's 71st minute goal finally gave them daylight against the hard-charging Cats.

The weather and circumstance lent a real Championship feel to the game as Wexford, palpably fired up for the challenge, went at the hosts with real venom.

They had Shaun Murphy deployed as sweeper between the defensive lines, but that did not stop them sending plenty of decent ball to an inside forward line in which Conor McDonald looked to have the beating of Padraig Walsh.

McDonald would have had a first minute goal but for a wonder save from Eoin Murphy and the Kilkenny 'keeper was called into spectacular action again in the 23rd minute, producing a breath-taking, one-handed parry of a David Redmond pile-driver.

The sides were level (0-5 each) at that juncture, but the game really exploded on the half-hour when David Dunne finally found the Kilkenny net after wonderful approach work from Paul Morris and Aidan Nolan.

Kilkenny duly responded in the way they know best, Liam Blancfield, Canice Buckley and TJ Reid firing a pocket of three points from play inside two minutes, meaning the sides went in at the interval on level terms.

McDonald's late goal was a knife through the Kilkenny hearts, setting up a Wexford semi-final date with All-Ireland champions, Tipperary.

SCORERS

Wexford - C McDonald 1-8 (0-4 frees), P Morris 0-3, L Chin 0-3 (0-1 free), D Dunne 1-0, M Fanning 0-2 (frees), D O'Keeffe and D Redmond 0-1 each.

Colin Fennelly of Kilkenny in action against Diarmuid O’Keeffe of Wexford
Colin Fennelly of Kilkenny in action against Diarmuid O’Keeffe of Wexford

Kilkenny - TJ Reid 0-10 (0-9 frees), L Blanchfield 0-3, O Walsh 0-2, P Deegan, C Buckley, W Walsh, R Hogan 0-1 each.

WEXFORD: M Fanning, W Devereux, L Ryan, D Reck, S Murphy, J Breen, M O'Hanlon, D O'Keeffe, J O'Connor, A Nolan, P Morris, L Chin, D Redmond, C McDonald, D Dunne. Subs - J Guiney for Redmond (53 mins), H Kehoe for O'Connor (60), B Carton for Morris (70), A Maddock for Nolan (71).

KILKENNY: E Murphy, P Murphy, P Walsh, S Prendergast, L Ryan, J Cleere, P Deegan, O Walsh, C Buckley, C Fennelly, W Walsh, TJ Reid, L Blanchfield, R Hogan, C Martin. Subs - JJ Farrell for Ryan (49).

Referee - A Kelly (Galway).

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