Wexford need extra time to overcome Cats in U-21 hurling final

Wexford 1-21 Kilkenny 0-21(after extra-time)

Wexford earned their 15th Bord Gáis Energy Leinster U-21 Hurling title in dramatic fashion on homesoil tonight, as a last gasp goal ensured a three-point win after extra-time at Wexford Park.

Level for the tenth time overall, and the third in extra-time, it looked like a replay was on the cards when Senior star Jack Guiney bagged his ninth point from a free.

However Wexford weren't finished yet, and a trio of fine catches in his own defence by Man of the Match Lee Chin, coupled with some strong pressure at the opposite end powered Wexford to their 15th provincial crown.

In the end it was a mistake by Kilkenny goalkeeper Aaron Duggan which proved the difference, after the Dicksboro clubman dropped the ball over his own goal-line, after substitute Niall Murphy had got the final Wexford touch in the 82nd minute.

JJ Doyle's side held a 0-4 to 0-1 lead after eight minutes, with three different players on target for the hosts.

Scores from Conor McDonald, Ian Byrne and Rhys Clarke helping Wexford to an early lead.

John Power kept the visitors in touch, registering seven first half points, six from placed balls.

Kilkenny placed the Wexford defence under huge pressure in the closing stages, and claimed two unanswered points before the break, but it could have been more.

Wexford goalkeeper Brian Murphy pulled off a superb full body save late on, after a rasping shot from Cats full-forward Ger Aylward.

Now 0-12 to 0-9 ahead at the break, the visitors failed to ease up on the restart. Kilkenny with six scoring chances in the opening four and a half minutes of the half, but failing to claim a score.

Wexford worked hard, as points from Rhys Clarke and Barry Carton cut the gap to the minimum by the 37th minute.

The hosts battled strongly in search of an equaliser, but to no avail as points from, Richie Reid and Power handed Kilkenny a 0-14 to 0-11 lead in the 43rd minute.

Wexford edged their way back into contention with Guiney's fourth pointed free and Byrne's first score from play cutting the gap to the minimum with 13 minutes remaining.

Defences stood firm late on, but McDonald won a hard-earned free late on, for Guiney to calmly slot over his sixth point and force extra-time at 0-17 apiece.

Scores from Guiney and Byrne helped Wexford take a 0-20 to 0-18 lead at half-time in extra-time, but Kilkenny fought back.

A trio of Kelly pointed free edged the Cats into a one-point lead, and although Guiney's ninth point looked like a replay would be required, Wexford snatched a goal at the death.

After the game Leinster Council Chairman Martin Skelly presented the cup to Wexford captain Lee Chin.

The Slaneysiders will now face the Ulster champions in the All-Ireland semi-final on August 24th.

WEXFORD: B Murphy; G Foley, C Goff, E Conroy; A Kenny, S O'Gorman, D O'Leary; L Chin (0-1), J Hobbs; J Guiney (0-9, 9f), I Byrne (0-5, 3f, 1 '65), G Moore (0-1); C McDonald (0-2), B Carton (0-1), R Clarke (0-2).

Subs: D Wright for Hobbs (27); N Murphy (1-0) for Wright (47); C O'Leary for Carton (76).

KILKENNY: A Duggan; P Carroll, W Phelan, B Kennedy; P Walsh, L Harney, O McGrath; J Langton, O Walsh; J Power (0-9, 8f), R Reid (0-3), K Kelly (0-7, 4f); C Martin, G Aylward (0-2), M Brennan.

Subs: D Bourke for Brennan (HT); C Buckley for Langton (46); S Donnelly for Martin (48); C Prendergast for Bourke (66).

REFEREE: Pat Murphy (Carlow).


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