Davy Fitz leads magnificent Wexford to league semi-final with memorable win over Kilkenny
WEXFORD 2-18 KILKENNY 0-19
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.
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.
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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Wexford just beat Kilkenny in Hurling. Unbelievable. All bets are off.— Meltybrains? (@Meltybrains) April 2, 2017
Tipp will have to go up a few gears to beat Wexford in the semi-final!! Unreal win for Davy Fitz and his men #AllianzLeague— Marisa Kennedy (@MarisaK96) April 2, 2017
Davy is some manager, no ifs or buts about it. Incredible achievement with this Wexford side to beat Kilkenny in Nowlan Park #AllianzLeagues— David Connors (@peterswellman) April 2, 2017
Mammoth result. Fair play to Davy & Wexford, taking down Cody & Kilkenny in Nowlan Park https://t.co/OQ6EPLdYFm— Peter O'Connell (@Westclarepage) April 2, 2017
Yes Wexford! https://t.co/8ip3vgjQFW— Amy (@AmyMolloy9) April 2, 2017
Davy Fitz & Wexford players are in the middle of that.Huge roar at the end by Wx fans who feel their years in the doldrums may be at an end pic.twitter.com/wH0kCG6SGB— Gordon Manning (@Gordon_Manning) April 2, 2017