Wednesday 21 February 2018

The game at a glance

Michael Fennelly (Kilkenny): A surprise starter given his recent battle with injury, but justified his manager's decision with a second-half masterclass at midfield. Strong in the air and indifferent to all physical discouragement, took the game by the scruff of the neck when Kilkenny needed him to.

Turning point

None as such. Richie Hogan's eighth minute goal was probably too early to justify that label, but Kilkenny led from that moment all the way to the finish. Thereafter, Wexford were always chasing the game and never quite with absolute conviction.

Talking point

Kilkenny's full-back line and whether we have seen the end of Noel Hickey as an inter-county No 3. JJ Delaney was never comfortable against Garrett Sinnott and there was always a sense that better opposition might have offered a more interesting examination of the Leinster champions' defensive health.

Ref watch

Johnny Ryan encountered a somewhat animated Henry Shefflin as he came off the field and did let some saucy challenges escape censure, particularly in the first half. But a competent display, nonetheless, in a game that never threatened to fizz out of control.

What they said

Brian Cody (Kilkenny manager):

"The league final happened and an awful lot has been written about it. But we prepared as normal. Obviously, we'd be very foolish to close our eyes to it. But you assess it and you carry on. From the point of view of confidence and that, it had no impact whatsoever."

Colm Bonnar (Wexford manager):

"We're very disappointed with that performance because we came in with good hope. We had a great crowd behind us and they were only waiting for something to shout about."

Match statistics

Wides: Kilkenny 8 (2); Wexford 10 (6).

Frees: Kilkenny 8 (4); Wexford 10 (3).

Yellow cards: Kilkenny 1 (C Fennelly 60); Wexford 2 (K Rossiter 24, T Waters 69).

Red cards: Kilkenny 0; Wexford 0.

Attendance: 13,900.

What next?

Kilkenny march on to a Leinster final against either Galway or Dublin on July 3, while Wexford slip into the second phase of qualifiers which will be played on July 9.

Irish Independent

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