Under-17 hurlers took care of Lilies' threat early on
Wexford 3-18 Kildare 2-6
The Wexford Under-17 hurlers earned a trip to take on Dublin in the semi-final of the Leinster special competition with a routine 15-point dismissal of Kildare in Hawkfield on Wednesday.
The visitors meant business from the off and ensured there would be no shocks by surging into a commanding 2-5 to 0-1 lead inside twelve minutes. After that it was simply a matter of what Wexford would win by, and the real test of this squad will come when they face the Dubs in the penultimate round.
The focus this week shifts though to the second Celtic Challenge, with Wexford Purple taking on Carlow in St. Patrick's Park on Wednesday while their Gold counterparts will travel to Abbotstown on the same night to face the Meath Royals.
The Slaneysiders travelled to the Kildare Centre of Excellence without Ross Banville due to his county Minor involvement, but there was an appearance at midfield by Good Counsel regular Diarmuid Kehoe who hadn't featured in the loss to Kilkenny one week earlier.
And they quickly left their mark on proceedings, with lively corner-forward Cathal Doyle picking off a point after 30 seconds before Rhys Broaders, Kevin O'Donohoe, Seán O'Connor and Seán Delaney ('65) followed suit, the latter after David Pettit's shot on goal was stopped by Kildare netminder Jack Cuthbert.
While wing-back Luca Conroy opened the home side's account, their race was effectively run after a fruitful goal burst for Wexford between the tenth and twelfth minutes. Rhys Broaders and Seán O'Connor featured in a move which ended when Cathal Doyle cut inside Ben Reddan and slotted a low shot into the far corner of the net.
And the number 15 wasn't finished yet, as his first-time pull after a hook on O'Connor left Wexford with a handsome 2-5 to 0-1 lead that was no more than their efforts deserved.
It was plain sailing afterwards, even allowing for 15 wides, the concession of two sloppy goals, and an unconvincing first touch at times on an admittedly sandy pitch that made lifting the ball difficult. Wexford went on to lead by 2-10 to 0-3 at half-time and could afford the luxury of taking top scorer Doyle (2-2) off.
Their worst period was in the third quarter when they were outscored by 1-3 to 0-4, with Oran Donnelly getting the Kildare goal in the 41st minute after winning Ian Blackburne's ball in (2-13 to 1-6).
However, the outcome was never in doubt, and substitutes Conall Clancy and Conor Nolan were among those to contribute to the scoresheet before a poorly-struck Luca Conroy free somehow found the net via a deflection in the last minute of normal time.
The reply was impressive though, as Wexford launched a swift attack and Nolan cut in from the left to emphasise their superiority with goal number three.
Wexford: Seán Cooper (Davidstown-Courtnacuddy); Sam Audsley (St. Martin's), Tommy Ryan (Gusserane), Cillian Gahan (Faythe Harriers); Conall O Crualaoich (Faythe Harriers), Micheál Gahan (Monageer-Boolavogue), Eoin Doyle (Craanford); Micheál O'Connor (Rathnure, 0-1), Diarmuid Kehoe (Geraldine O'Hanrahans); Kevin O'Donohoe (Gusserane, 0-4), Seán Delaney (Naomh Eanna, capt., 0-6, 3 frees, 1 '65), Rhys Broaders (St. Mary's, Rosslare, 0-1); Seán O'Connor (Rathnure, 0-1), David Pettit (Our Lady's Island/St. Fintan's, 0-1), Cathal Doyle (Taghmon-Camross, 2-2). Subs. - Conall Clancy (Faythe Harriers, 0-1) for C. Doyle (HT), James Lawlor (Ferns St. Aidan's) for Pettit (41), Conor Nolan (Oylegate-Glenbrien, 1-1) for O'Donohoe (48), Liam Coleman (Liam Mellows) for Kehoe (58), Patrick O'Hagan (Ferns St. Aidan's) for Gahan (58), also Ben Walsh (Geraldine O'Hanrahans), Peter Rowley (Oylegate-Glenbrien), Chris Callinan (Liam Mellows), Ben Stafford (St. Martin's).
Kildare: Jack Cuthbert; Ben Reddan, Kevin Kelleher, Ben O'Reilly; Eoghan Prizeman (capt.), Harry Carroll, Luca Conroy (1-2, 1-0 free); Ciarán Neville, Ian Blackburne (0-3); Murray O'Byrne, Ronan Kelly, Aaron Thornton; Brian Tobin, Oran Donnelly (1-0), Seán Whelan (0-1 free). Subs. - Cian Duffy for Reddan (13), Seán O'Neill for Thornton (47), Drew Costello for Neville (55), Conor O'Neill for Tobin (60), Kevin Sweeney for O'Byrne (60), Arlo Graham for Donnelly (60).
Referee: Shane Guinan (Offaly).