Monday 23 October 2017

Model strut stuff with late flourish

Wexford 1-21 Kilkenny 0-21 (after extra time)

Wexford's Conor McDonald celebrates after the final whistle of last night’s
Leinster U-21 hurling final at Wexford Park
Wexford's Conor McDonald celebrates after the final whistle of last night’s Leinster U-21 hurling final at Wexford Park

A dramatic goal in the 80th minute helped Wexford bridge an 11-year gap as they dethroned reigning champions Kilkenney after normal time failed to separate the sides.

Leinster  U-21 HC final

A dramatic goal in the 80th minute helped Wexford bridge an 11-year gap as they dethroned reigning champions Kilkenney after normal time failed to separate the sides.

A thrilling final was decided when pressure from Wexford substitute Niall Murphy on Kilkenny 'keeper Aaron Duggan saw the ball bundled into the net when the sides were level on 21 points apiece.

Wexford had raced into an early 0-4 to 0-1 lead but, as Kilkenny settled into the game, the excellent free-taking of John Power that had them back level by the 11th minute.

Lee Chin and Ger Aylward traded points before Wexford edged back in front through Jack Guiney but, as the half progressed, Kilkenny were beginning to take a grip and Power and Richie Reid put the visitors two points clear for the first time after 20 minutes.

Very little had separated the sides but it was Kilkenny who finished the half strongest and they went in 0-12 to 0-9 up at the interval.

On the resumption, Kilkenny were bidding to put away the Wexford challenge but the hosts, with some excellent defending, managed to lift the siege, responding with points from Rhys Clarke and Barry Carton to leave the minimum separating the sides – 0-12 to 0-11 – after 36 minutes.

Kilkenny were guilty of over-playing the ball up front before Reid eventually opened their second half account after 38 minutes with an excellent point, which seemed to settle them.

As Wexford squandered a couple of chances, it was Kilkenny who forged back into a three-point lead, 0-14 to 0-11, through a further Power pointed free, before Guiney responded with a similar effort leaving just two points separating the sides, 0-14 to 0-12, after 44 minutes.

Kilkenny tried to keep their noses in front but Wexford responded to the challenge to level at 0-14 each after 50 minutes. Kilkenny showed a positive response however, as they bounced back for points from Kevin Kelly and Reid to edge two points back in front.

Just when it looked as if the Cats had made a match-winning surge, it was the Model county who struck back – points from a Guiney free and a superb Gary Moore sideline cut levelled again at 0-16 each, entering the closing four minutes.

Kilkenny's Power, after missing an easy free, atoned three minutes from the end to edge his side back into a single -oint lead, 0-17 to 0-16, but, in injury-time, Guiney forced extra time with a free.

Points from Clarke, Guiney and Ian Byrne both frees gave Wexford a 0-20 to 0-18 lead after the first period of extra-time, Kilkenny's only response been a Kelly pointed free. Kelly with three pointed free had Kilkenny back in front, but Wexford in a dramatic finish saw Guinrey point a free off the sideline, before sub Niall Murphy goaled in the closing seconds to give Wexford a dramatic late win.

SCORERS – Wexford: J Guiney 0-9fs, I Byrne 0-5 (4fs, 1 '65'), N Murphy 1-0, C McDonald, R Clarke 0-2 each, G Moore, L Chin, B Carton 0-1 each. Kilkenny: K Kelly 0-9fs, J Power 0-7 (6fs), R Reid 0-3, G Aylward 0-2.

WEXFORD – B Murphy; G Foley, C Goff, E Conroy; A Kenny, S O'Gorman, D O'Leary; L Chin, J Hobbs; J Guiney, I Byrne, G Moore; C McDonald, B Carton, R Clarke. Subs: D Wright for Hobbs (27), N Murphy for Wright (47), C O'Leary for Carton (76).

KILKENNY – A Duggan; P Carroll, W Phelan, B Kennedy; P Walsh, L Harney, O McGrath; J Langton, O Walsh; J Power, R Reid, K Kelly; C Martin, G Aylward, M Brennan. Subs: D Bourke for Brennan (30), C Buckley for Langton (46), S Donnelly for Martin (48), C Pendergast for Bourke (66).

REF – P Murphy (Carlow)

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