Models fashion famous victory as Redmond struts his stuff in decider
Wexford 3-14 Kilkenny 3-10
The wait for Wexford was a long and difficult 34 years and they made the closing minutes tantalising before delivering a thoroughly deserved victory in Croke Park yesterday.
When the game hit the 54th minute, Kilkenny - who had lost last year's final and were all the time under pressure to cope here - shot in front for the one and only time when sub Ian Byrne drilled over a point (2-10 to 2-9).
However, from there to the finish it was all Wexford and the majestic AJ Redmond (right), who did brilliantly to end the famine that stretched back to 1985, shot over the next five points to fire Wexford into a winning position.
Then on 62 minutes Richie Lawlor went on a defence-shredding run before offloading to the supporting Cian Byrne at the Canal End, and the latter nearly ripped a hole in the net as he shot a goal that wrapped up their eighth provincial title at this level.
Deep in additional time Kilkenny scored a consolation goal through Pierce Blanchfield, but by that stage Wexford were through to the All-Ireland semi-finals. The Cats face Clare next Saturday in the first of the quarter-final games.
Wexford took control of the game from an early stage, and with the aid of a 14th-minute goal from David Cantwell, made by Lawlor, they showed 1-4 to 0-2 in front in the 16th minute when playing against the breeze.
Kilkenny stormed back after free-taker Billy Drennan posted a badly needed point. When Jack Doyle and Drennan grabbed points, and then Doyle bagged a goal in the 24th minute, it was all square at 1-5 each.
Wexford picked up the pace again and two late points from Man of the Match Redmond left them leading by 1-7 to 1-5 at the break.
Kilkenny regained parity by the 34th minute thanks to points from Drennan, but the Slaneysiders were unlucky not to grab a goal at the other end moments later when Lawlor smashed his way through a wall of defenders.
The teams were together at 1-9 each on 52 minutes and later at 2-9 each after a Timmy Clifford goal rescued Kilkenny.
And when sub Ian Byrne shot the losers in front the challenge was put up to the Model youngsters.
They responded with absolute authority, led to a fabulous victory by Redmond, with Dylan Whelan, Joe Conroy, Richie Lawlor and Cian Molloy other stars on what proved a famous occasion for Wexford hurling after they lost 11 finals since their last success.
SCORERS - Wexford: AJ Redmond 1-11 (9f); D Cantwell 1-1; C Byrne 1-0; J Kirwan, P Whitty 0-1 each. Kilkenny: B Drennan 0-5 (5f); T Clifford, J Doyle, P Blanchfield 1-1 each; L Moore, I Byrne 0-1 each.
WEXFORD - C Byrne; D Whelan, K Scallan, J Conroy; J Moran, C Molloy, D Codd; J Kirwan, L Kavanagh; J Shiel, D O'Neill, P Whitty; AJ Redmond, R Lawlor, D Cantwell. Subs: C Foley for Whitty (39), D O'Leary for D O'Neill (39), C Byrne for Cantwell (50), O Pepper for J Shiel (61), E Cullen for Lawlor (63).
Kilkenny - A Tallis; B Reid, W Halpin, T Roche; P McDonald, P Moylan, J Aylward; A Hickey, D Walsh; P Blanchfield, C O'Sullivan, L Moore; B Drennan, T Clifford, J Doyle. Subs: I Byrne for O'Sullivan (42), A Murphy for A Hickey (57), Z Bay Hammon (63).
REF - C Mooney (Dublin)