LEINSTER UNDER-21 HC SEMI-FINALS/Kilkenny 3-20 Wexford 4-6:
Wexford supporters left Nowlan Park last night deflated and wondering what happened.
Wexford were first out the blocks and looked to be the far superior team and after a Barry Carton goal Wexford were after 10 minutes 1-4 to 0-01 up. However that was as good as it was to get for us and while everyone expected a Kilkenny fight back, the nature and total collapse of the Wexford challenge was perplexing and utterly disappointing.
Kilkenny’s response was impressive with Walter Walsh goaling to get them motoring.
That strike proved to be the inspiration his side needed, as Kilkenny gradually took control. Kevin Kelly bagged a brace of points before John Power goaled, scores which helped Kilkenny into a 2-9 to 1-5 interval lead.
Wexford’s evening went from bad to worse, as Jack Guiney was denied a goal when defender Richie Doyle stopped his 27th-minute penalty on the line.
Kilkenny strengthened their position within seconds of the restart, as Walsh grabbed his second goal of the evening and soon the under pressure corner back, Willie Devreaux, booked in the opening half received a second yellow, we were down to 14 and it was now looking very bleak. Wexford did battle and Lee Chin and the substitute Shane O’Gorman were noteworthy in these efforts.
Kilkenny continued to point and moved into a 3-18 to 2-5 lead, we put in a late burst, Guiney goaling two close range frees in the dying minutes, but it was too late.
For Wexford it was a real lesson, we have the hurlers of that there is no doubt but the game plan went out the window when Kilkenny asserted pressure. We are losing these games in our heads, confidence just seeped out of our lads and Kilkenny grew in stature. A depressing result but if we can get the heads and the preparation right then these lads can deliver. For many it was their last year at this grade and let’s hope they make an impact at senior, Michael O’Regan caught the eye, for others they’ll have to wait until next year to have another assault on the title.
KILKENNY: D Walsh; J Corcoran, W Phelan, J Lyng; L Harney, R Doyle, B. Kennedy; G Brennan (0-1), O Walsh; C Kenny (0-1), P Walsh (0-1), C Buckley; G Aylward (0-3), W Walsh (2-1), K Kelly (0-9, 0-7 frees). Subs: M Gaffney (0-3) for C Kenny (43 mins); P Buggy for K Kelly (51 mins); P O’Carroll for R Doyle (53 mins); O McGrath for J Power (1-1) (56 mins).
WEXFORD: M Fanning; W Deveraux, M. O’Hanlon, A Nolan; C Goff, J. Lacey, D O’Keeffe; A Nolan, M Maloney; L Chin, M O’Regan (1-2), G Moore (0-1); L Óg McGovern, J Guiney (2-1, frees), B Carton (1-1). Subs: S O’Gorman for M Maloney (29 mins); K Nimmo for A Nolan (38 mins); I Byrne (0-1) for B Carton (45 mins); B O’Gorman for A Nolan (47 mins); A Nash for L Og McGovern (54 mins).
Referee: D Hughes (Carlow).