Wexford 1-19 Kilkenny 3-10
By John Fogarty
A Lee Chin-inspired Wexford pulled off a thrilling first championship victory over Kilkenny in 13 years in front of an 18,467 crowd in Innovate Wexford Park.
Chin was an awesome force in the middle of the field as Wexford just about hung on to savour this rare win. A second penalty goal by TJ Reid in the 56th minute after Colin Fennelly had again been fouled brought Kilkenny to within one but Wexford never lost their advantage.
Kilkenny looked dead when they fell eight behind, David Redmond’s scrappy goal in the 39th minute putting them 1-13 to 1-5 ahead. But then for a block by Cillian Buckley, Wexford could have been out of sight but Kilkenny were able to hit back and Fennelly, a constant thorn in Wexford’s side, found the net in the 54th minute when his shot was too hot for Mark Fanning.
When Reid again rocketed a penalty shot to the net, Kilkenny had fired in 2-0 without answer but then Chin settled Wexford with a point and although Lester Ryan hit one back Chin was able to find his range from a 65. Matthew O’Hanlon sent Wexford three up before bedlam ensured as Reid honed in on goal but the ball was eventually cleared.
Reid did managed a free on the stroke of the end of normal time but substitute Shane Tomkins cancelled it out although Fanning was called on to deny Chris Bolger in the dying stages and Conor McDonald could have helped Wexford nerves but struck two frees wide.
From early on, it was clear Kilkenny were operating a sweeper. That will either be dismissed or damned in the county but it was obvious Conor Fogarty was providing extra cover between the two defensive lines as Shaun Murphy was for Wexford at the other end. Kilkenny may argue they had to either to mirror the opposition or acknowledge the major wind factor that faced them in the first half but then they too were deploying three in midfield.
That left space at either end and it was Fennelly who exploited it first in the opening minute when he was brought down by James Breen in the parallelogram. Reid stepped up and left Fanning rooted to the ground. Against the elements, it was a perfect start but Kilkenny didn’t score again until the 17th minute, Ryan slotting the ball over.
Shooting from both teams left a lot to be desired – a clearly unfit Pádraic Walsh and a frustrated, yellow-carded Ger Aylward were substituted after wides as was Jack O’Connor later on – but a more aggressive Wexford grew into the game and were on level terms by the 11th minute prior to excellent Jack Guiney and O’Connor scores.
A Reid free had Kilkenny back on level terms in the 20th minute and the sides were equal once more two minutes later but Wexford then stretched four ahead with a series of frees. Paddy Deegan stopped that run but Wexford matched his score as they did Reid’s additional time free, which was followed by a Paul Morris score.
Scorers for Wexford: L. Chin (0-6, 3 frees, 2 65s); C. McDonald (0-5, 4 frees); P. Morris (0-3); D. Redmond (1-0); D. O’Keeffe, L. Ryan, J. Guiney, J. O’Connor, M. O’Hanlon, S. Tomkins (0-1 each)
Scorers for Kilkenny: T.J. Reid (2-7, 2-0 pen, 0-6 frees, 0-1 65); C. Fennelly (1-0); L. Ryan (0-2); P. Deegan, W. Walsh (0-1 each).
WEXFORD: M. Fanning; W. Devereux, S. Donohue; S. Murphy; J. Breen, M. O’Hanlon (j-c), D. O’Keeffe; L. Chin (j-c), L. Ryan, A. Nolan; C. McDonald, P. Morris, J. O’Connor, J. Guiney, H. Kehoe.
Subs for Wexford: D. Redmond for J. O’Connor (32); S. Tomkins for A. Nolan (58); P. Doran for H. Kehoe (62); K. Foley for P. Morris (66).
KILKENNY: E. Murphy; P. Murphy, K. Joyce; C. Fogarty; C. Buckley, C.O’Shea, R. Lennon; R. Hogan, P. Deegan (c), L. Ryan; W. Walsh, P. Walsh, T.J. Reid; G. Aylward, C. Fennelly.
Subs for Kilkenny: L. Blanchfield for P. Walsh (30); C. Bolger for G. Aylward (33); K. Kelly for W. Walsh (64); R. Reid for R. Hogan (68).
Referee: F. Horgan (Tipperary).