Friday 14 December 2018

Kilkenny turn on the style to blitz Wexford and set up mouth-watering clash with Tipp

Kilkenny 1-27 Wexford 2-15

James Maher of Kilkenny in action against Paul Morris of Wexford
James Maher of Kilkenny in action against Paul Morris of Wexford
Colm Keys

Colm Keys

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

After so much expectation that Wexford and Limerick would frank a new rising in hurling by meeting in next weekend's Allianz Hurling League final, it's old foes Tipperary and Kilkenny who will do battle again, their 10th appearance in a national final, league and championship, in the last 10 years.

Kilkenny put a significant dent in the 18-month progress made by Wexford with this nine-point win that elevates some of their rising stars that manager Brian Cody has pinned so much faith in.

After recovering from a slow start they hit a wind-assisted 1-11 without reply to take control.

TJ Reid led the way with 15 points, 12 from frees, and they led by 1-13 to 1-5 at the break.

Wexford had reduced that lead to three when Conor McDonald's goal on 38 minutes made it 1-14 to 2-8 but Kilkenny didn't panic and, led by Padraig Walsh and Cillian Buckley at the heart of defence, they rode the storm and outfought their rivals to reverse last year's league and Leinster Championship results. 

Wexford had enjoyed a brisk start, Rory O'Connor converting two frees to Reid's one before O'Connor was then hauled down by Paddy Deegan for a penalty which Aidan Nolan dispatched for a four-point lead after just seven minutes.

Remarkably it was their last scored for 25 minutes when O'Connor, who scored 12 points in all and carried the biggest threat, resumed service again from a free.

By then Kilkenny were almost out of sight, hitting that unanswered 1-11 as they poured in from every angle, aggressively challenging the aerial supremacy that Wexford so often enjoy against opponents these days.

Wing-back Enda Morrissey had them level by the 16th minute and when Eoin Murphy landed a free from the edge of their own 'D' on 24 minutes, they had doubled their score to 0-10.

Wexford could get no momentum and when Walter Walsh slipped between corner-backs Damien Reck, on for the injured Willie Devereux, and Simon Donoghue his finish for Kilkenny's goal was deft.

By the break, Wexford had steadied themselves with three further O'Connor frees to allow for that surge after the break but it was all too shortlived and a missed 20 metre fere from O'Connor, seemed to deflate them at a critical time.

Scorers - Kilkenny: TJ Reid 0-15 (0-12fs), W Walsh 1-1, G Alyward, J Donnelly, R Leahy 0-2 each, E Murphy (f), C Buckley, E Morrissey, B Sheehan, M Keoghan all 0-1 each

Wexford: R O'Connor 0-12 (8fs), C McDonald 1-1, A Nolan 1-0 (pen), H Kehoe, S Murphy 0-1 each.

Kilkenny: E Murphy; J Holden, P Walsh, P Deegan; C Delaney, C Buckley, E Morrissey; R Leahy, J Maher; M Keoghan, TJ Reid, J Donnelly; G Aylward, J Donnelly, B Sheehan. Subs: C Fogarty for Maher (48), L Blanchfield for Donnelly (59), L Ryan for Leahy (67), L Scanlon for Sheehan (68), P Lyng for Keoghan (70)

Wexford: M Fanning; W Devereux, L Ryan, S Donohoe; P Foley, M O'Hanlon, D O'Keeffe; K Foley, S Murphy; J O'Connor, C McDonald, L Chin; A Nolan, R O'Connor, P Morris. Subs: D Reck for Devereux inj (15), H Kehoe for Morris (49), D Dunne for Nolan (53), C Dunbar for J O'Connor (69).

Referee: C Lyons (Cork)

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