Report on Double Header in Wexford Park

(Submitted by Micheál Kelly)

Lyng and Barry delight huge home crowd as Wexford advance to Leinster Semi-Final

Wexford Park was the place to be on Saturday evening as a huge crowd turned out for this Leinster Championship double-header. The home of Wexford Gaa saw the sun shine down on the biggest crowd seen since the ground was redeveloped, with standing room only as the only spaces were on the terraces behind the goals. The atmosphere was electric, with the eager home support cheering every score from their victorious footballers, while they responded to every burst their hurlers made against Brian Cody’s Kilkenny side, and never stopped willing the hurlers on. It is more championship days like this which are needed to promote the games in the county, with young and old alike enjoying a great evening’s entertainment.

The opening game of this double header saw Wexford footballers take up where they left off against Offaly with a free scoring victory over a gallant Westmeath side. Jason Ryan saw his side play a fast, open style of football which delighted the thousands of purple and gold supporters in attendance. The twin attacking threats of Redmond Barry and the excellent Ciarán Lyng were the scorers in chief, contributing 1-03 and 0-10 respectively, with Ben Brosnan adding 7 points, including 5 excellent frees. Westmeath had their own star duo in attack, as Denis Glennon and the evergreen Dessie Dolan scored 11 of their 15 points between them, and caused the Wexford full back line huge problems in the opening half.

Wexford had a dream start, as after 24 seconds a great pass from Aindreas Doyle was collected by Red Barry, who soloed past three defenders before crashing a great shot to the net. Ciarán Lyng followed it up with a point, only for Dolan to respond with two similar scores. The sides then traded two points apiece through Barry and Lyng for Wexford, with Glennon and Dolan replying for Westmeath. Indeed, it was to be a 22nd minute free from Ben Brosnan before any other player scored for either side. The sides continued exchanging points, as a free-flowing game played in excellent conditions was met with roars of approval from a vocal support. The closing minutes of the half saw Red Barry point after a brilliant surge upfield by full back Graham Molloy, before Westmeath corner back Aidan Finnan popped up to score his side’s 9th point, showing his forwards the way(with the exception of Glennon and Dolan). A Ciarán Lyng free left the interval score at 1-12 to 0-09.

Eric Bradley opened the second half scoring with a point after a great pass from Red Barry, with a Dolan free then being followed by a brilliant Lyng point. Ben Brosnan then scored 4 points in a row, with a great individual score from play, and 3 frees, including a monster effort from close to 50 yards. Points from Barry, Lyng and Adrian Flynn left the Model County footballers ahead 1-21 to 0-10, as Wexford were now completely on top in the middle sector of the field. Teenage star John Heslin showed what Westmeath will miss when he goes to Australia to play AFL, as he soloed the full length of the field before kicking an excellent score, with Denis Glennon following it up with a good score. This was to be Wexford’s evening however, and hard-working midfielder Rory Quinlivan scored a great point, before Brosnan closed out the game with his 7th personal point.

Wexford now advance to the Leinster Semi Final against either Carlow or Louth, with a great amount of optimism in the camp. They played a great attacking positive game of football, with 5 of the 6 forwards scoring from play, while the remaining member of the attacking sextet, the tireless Colm Morris was outstanding throughout. The Castletown man surely has a football brain to rival any player in Ireland, with his vision and endless running crucial to so many scores. In Lyng, Barry and Brosnan meanwhile, Wexford possess three scoring forwards of sheer class, who will cause headaches for any backline if they can get a sufficient supply of possession.

Wexford: Anthony Masterson, Joey Wadding, Graham Molloy, Brian Malone, Adrian Flynn (0-1), David Murphy, Aindreas Doyle, Rory Quinlivan (0-1), Daithi Waters, Shane Roche (0-1), Ciarán Lyng (0-10, 3f), Ben Brosnan (0-7, 5f), Colm Morris, Eric Bradley (0-1), Redmond Barry (1-3). Subs – Niall Murphy for Wadding, Adrian Morrissey for Flynn, Brendan Doyle for Bradley, Paddy Byrne for Roche, Liam Óg McGovern for Lyng.

Westmeath: Gary Connaughton, Francis Boyle, Kieran Gavin, Aidan Finnan (0-1), Ger Egan, Kieran Martin, Doran Harte, Darragh Daly, Denis Corroon, Paul Sharry, David Glennon, Conor Lynam, Paul Greville (0-2, 2f), Denis Glennon (0-4), Dessie Dolan (0-7, 2f). Subs – James Dolan for Egan, John Heslin (0-1) for Sharry, John Gaffey for Gavin, Brendan Murtagh for Corroon, Michael Curley for David Glennon.

Kilkenny have too much firepower for injury-hit Model men

Wexford hurlers couldn’t deliver a second victory to the huge home support, as Kilkenny pulled through in the closing 20 minutes of an enjoyable contest. The hosts battled bravely in the first half but Kilkenny found scores easier to come by and they were full value for their five-point interval cushion, 1-14 to 1-9. Richie Hogan bagged the Cats’ goal in the ninth minute, while Jim Berry crashed an injury-time free to the Kilkenny net.

Wexford were dealt a huge blow before throw-in with captain Darren Stamp ruled out through injury, while they lost Ciarán Kenny inside the first 10 minutes to a rib injury. The home side got the start they needed when debutant Garrett Sinnott floated over a nice point inside the opening minute. A Henry Shefflin free had the visitors level within 60 seconds, as the Kilkenny crowd cheered his first match back from injury.

Sinnott was certainly up for the battle with JJ Delaney as the Oulart-The Ballagh full forward collected possession and turned to fire over a second great point in the fifth minute. However, in the ninth minute, Richie Hogan bounced off a tackle and sent a stunning shot into the top right corner of the Wexford net to make it 1-1 to 0-2. But Sinnott was on hand to fire his third point in the tenth minute, as he looked to be finding the transition into Inter-county championship hurling seamless.

Shefflin’s pointed free doubled the Cats’ lead and Power added another before Wexford lost Vice-captain and centre-back Ciaran Kenny to injury. Colin Fennelly and Jacob exchanged scores and the Slaneysiders – playing with wind advantage – trailed by a goal after 15 minutes, 1-4 to 0-4.

Hogan tapped over a point and Shefflin’s third pointed free meant the favourites led by five after 20 minutes but Jim Berry’s free closed the gap before Keith Rossiter’s brilliant steal denied Fennelly a goal-scoring opportunity. Shefflin converted the resultant 65 to make it double scores: 1-7 to 0-5. Hogan picked out Eoin Larkin for a fantastic Kilkenny point and TJ Reid followed up within seconds to make it 1-9 to 0-5 after 24 minutes. All six Kilkenny forwards had now scored, and Wexford were struggling. Berry replied with a much-needed Wexford point from play, 1-9 to 0-6 after 25 minutes.

Almost immediately, Jacob was in with a shot at goal but his low effort was diverted wide by Delaney, who jumped into his path hopefully. The 65 went over courtesy of Paul Roche and Banville replied from distance after Shefflin popped over another Kilkenny free. Kilkenny now reeled off three points inside two minutes to assume a commanding 1-13 to 0-8 advantage with just three minutes remaining before the interval. David Herity made a spectacular save to deny Jacob a goal on 34 minutes, deflecting the shot over the bar for a point. Shefflin tagged on another free to put eight in it again. However, Berry gave Wexford a sliver of hope when he drilled an injury-time free to the net to cut the margin to five at half time, 1-14 to 1-9, with the vocal home support ensuring the Wexford side left the field to huge cheers.

Berry (free) and the outstanding Michael Rice swapped scores in the opening minutes of the second half, followed by a great PJ Nolan score. Rice replied with his third of the evening before Sinnott got another Wexford score – 1-12 to 1-16 after 41. But Michael Fennelly showed no ill effects from his recent hand injury as he roared through the middle to extend Kilkenny’s advantage. Kilkenny now began to exert some dominance, and Shefflin (free) added to his six first-half points and the margin was back up to six with 25 minutes to go, 1-18 to 1-12; the Kilkenny legend next stroked over a ’65’, showing that he has lost none of his placed-ball accuracy. The game was slipping away from the home side, as Fennelly raced forward to register his second point.
Berry tapped over another free, momentarily pegging Kilkenny’s lead back to seven, but Rice was in the right place to make it 1-21 to 1-13 at the three-quarters stage. Richie Hogan was extremely unlucky when his shot rebounded off the butt of a post – the third time Kilkenny had struck the woodwork since the game resumed. Shefflin took his point after stealing in behind the Wexford defence and debutant Paul Murphy arced over a neat point, embellishing an encouraging display from the man replacing a certain Mr T Walsh of Tullaroan.  Power (free) got his fourth point before the hour had elapsed and both sides emptied their benches, with the 23,000 attendance becoming more and more subdued. Late scores from Reid (2), Malachy Travers, Roche (65 – after Herity made another fine save from Banville) brought the game to a close, as Johnny Ryan of Tipperary blew the final whistle.

Kilkenny advance to meet either Dublin or Galway in the Leinster Final, while Wexford will meet one of the losing Munster semi-finalists in the Qualifiers.

Kilkenny: David Herity; Paul Murphy (0-1), Noel Hickey, Jackie Tyrrell; Paddy Hogan, Brian Hogan, JJ Delaney; Michael Fennelly (0-2), Michael Rice (0-4); TJ Reid (0-3), Richie Power (0-4), Eoin Larkin (0-1); Colin Fennelly (0-1), Henry Shefflin (0-9), Richie Hogan (1-1). Subs: Michael Kavanagh for Tyrell (59), Eddie Brennan for C Fennelly (60), John Mulhall for Larkin (63).

Wexford: Niall Breen; Paul Roche (0-2), Matthew O’Hanlon, Keith Rossiter; Lar Prendergast, Malachy Travers (0-1), Ciarán Kenny; Willie Doran, David Redmond; PJ Nolan (0-1), Harry Kehoe, Stephen Banville (0-1); Rory Jacob (0-2), Garrett Sinnott (0-4), Jim Berry (1-4). Subs: Colm Farrell for Kenny (12), Michael Jacob for Doran (29), Eoin Quigley for Redmond, Brendan Doyle for Nolan (62), Tomás Waters for Kehoe (66).