Kerry minor hurlers’ 28-point loss to Wexford calls into question the validity of them being in Leinster’s Tier 1

Kerry scored just two points from play after being totally outclassed by the Slaneysiders in one-sided contest in Portlaoise

The Kerry team that faced Wexford in the Leinster Minor Hurling Championship in Portlaoise



Wexford 5-21

Kerry 0-8

‘The rationale behind the move [to Leinster] is solid. The Munster counties are so strong that it might give young Kerry players a better chance to shine in a slightly less hostile environment in the East. Theoretically at least.’ – The Kerryman, March 22

Well, that was the theory. The reality, alas, on the evidence of this result anyway, is that Kerry might have gone from the frying pan to the fire. A 28-point beating for a minor team in any circumstances is not good, not productive, and it very much remains to be seen how Kerry’s move to the Leinster Championship for minor hurling will benefit the small ball game in the Kingdom – if at all.

The pre-game assessment of Kerry manager Jerome O’Sullivan was fully confirmed as this Tier 1 Group 1 game, played before a small attendance in O’Moore Park in Portlaoise on Saturday, with some questions to be answered as to why Kerry found themselves in the company of Wexford, with Dublin and Offaly to come, when clearly there was going to be an unbridgeable gulf in class between the Leinster trio and the newcomers from Munster.

O’Sullivan had expressed gratitude for the chance to enter this competition, feeling that it wouldn’t be as psychologically damaging as facing the Munster big guns. However, he married that with some disappointment Kerry’s inclusion in the higher level, feeling that Kerry are Tier 2 standard. And he was proven emphatically correct, as they weren’t at the races and only managed a brace of scores from play in a 28-point thrashing.

With games against Offaly (holders) and their conquerors last Saturday, Dublin, to come, it’s not going to get any easier for Kerry and the entire purpose of moving to Leinster may well be defeated if a couple more double-digits defeats are shipped.

As for the winners, they did what they had to do here, but it won’t be until the young Dubs visit Chadwicks Wexford Park on Saturday that the Slaneysiders can adequately determine their own potential.

Two cracking first-half goals from midfield partners Seán Hyland and Jack Dunne set the tone, and it got even easier after the interval when Kerry were out-scored by 3-12 to 0-3 after already trailing by 2-9 to 0-5.

Kerry midfielder Darragh Corridon, who moved to full-forward for the second half, opened their scoring with the first of his four successful placed balls in the sixth minute.

On that note, one area where Wexford must improve is in the concession of frees, because 20 was too high a number to give away (with 17 received) against struggling opposition.

Wexford’s second goal was an absolute cracker, coming in the 21st minute when Jack Nolan popped a handpass to Jack Dunne – son of the legendary Liam – who was running hard from midfield off his left shoulder. When he got to the 20-metre mark, the Oulart-The Ballagh lad took aim and unleashed a powerful drive to the top right corner of the net to widen the gap to 2-6 to 0-3. Joe O’Leary and Jason Rossiter (two frees) added points before Kerry showed some promise in first-half additional time.

After Corridon sent over his fourth free, the Kerry captain Maurice Lenihan drifted out towards midfield and collected a short pass from wing-back Ruairí Hanafin before posting their opening point from play in the 34th minute.

The half ended with a thundering tackle by Kian O’Connor on Kerry centre-back Tomás Godley. It meant the effective Wexford full-forward had to exchange his number 14 jersey for 32 on the restart, but Godley wasn’t so fortunate as he had to be replaced by Pádraig Kenny, with Keelan Best moving to the pivotal position.

The upset caused by this enforced departure probably contributed to Kerry’s lateness in emerging from the dressing-room for the second half, with referee Pádraig Dunne eventually losing patience and going in to hasten their return.

Kerry’s only effort on goal arrived in the 33rd minute, when Corridon went low from a close-in free, but Wexford goalkeeper Paddy Quigley was alert to the danger and diverted the shot around the post for a ’65 that Ivan Conway sent wide.

Jamie Doyle (’65), Kian O’Connor and Joe O’Leary had points at the other end before O’Connor dispossessed Kerry full-back Aidan O’Mahoney in the 40th minute and tucked away the third goal to make it 3-13 to 0-5.

Ivan Conway hit Kerry’s first point of the second-half from a free 60 seconds later, before Doyle split the posts from another ’65 after O’Connor and Jason Rossiter went close to rattling the net in a goalmouth scramble.

Doran Daly-O’Toole grabbed a point from play that his excellent work deserved, and the fourth goal followed in the 52nd minute. Jamie Doyle sold a dummy before his shot was saved by Jack Moriarty, but the recently-introduced Liam Cooney followed up and slammed home for a 4-16 to 0-6 lead.

Back in 1988, when the counties met for the only other time in this competition, Kerry posed plenty of problems in Thurles before Wexford prevailed by 1-19 to 3-6.

However, this game was all one-way traffic by comparison, with Kerry outclassed although wing-forward Rory O’Halloran did draw praise with a fine point from tight to the left sideline in the 54th minute.

Wexford underlined their vast superiority with a quality fifth goal in the first extra minute from half-back Niall Furlong, with Kerry already on the bus – in mind if not body – by that stage.

WEXFORD: Paddy Quigley; Ben Harpur, Ciarán Doyle, Patrick Kinsella; Doran Daly-O’Toole (0-1), Charlie Roark, Niall Furlong (1-0); Jack Dunne (1-2), Seán Hyland (1-1); Colin Carley, Jamie Doyle (0-2 ’65’), Jack Nolan; Jason Rossiter (0-6f), Kian O’Connor (1-4), Joe O’Leary (0-3). Subs: Corey Ryan for Harpur (47), Liam Cooney (1-0) for Nolan (47), Páuric Doyle for O’Leary (50), Tom Dempsey (0-1) for Rossiter (50), Jack Gethings for Dunne (inj, 57), Callum Whelan-Byrne, Bobby Murphy, Stephen O’Toole, Conor Fanning.

KERRY: Jack Moriarty (St. Brendan’s); Hugh Lenihan (St. Brendan’s), Aidan O’Mahoney (Lixnaw), Eoin O’Flaherty (St. Brendan’s); Ruairí Hanafin (Abbeydorney), Tomás Godley (Kilmoyley), Keelan Best (St. Brendan’s); Adam Lynch (Ballyduff), Darragh Corridon 0-4 (4f) (Kilmoyley); Tom Flaherty (St. Brendan’s), Ivan Conway 0-2 (2f) (Lixnaw), Rory O’Halloran 0-1 (Ballyheigue); Billy Doyle (St. Brendan’s), Maurice Lenihan 0-1 (St. Brendan’s, Evan O’Sullivan (Crotta O’Neills). Subs: Pádraig Kenny (Ballyheigue) for Godley (inj, ht), Ryan Hickey (St. Brendan’s) for H. Lenihan (47), Art O’Sullivan (St. Brendan’s) for Lynch (50), Callum Carey-Sheehy (Ballyduff) for E O’Sullivan (55), Dan Maloney (Tralee Parnells) for Best (57). Referee: Pádraig Dunne (Laois).