Kilkenny were 15 points clear in this Allianz League game in Nowlan Park by half time and at the game’s end had doubled that margin to virtually assure themselves of a place in the final ahead of their last game, at home to Tipperary next weekend.
The depressing feature for dejected Wexford was that they seemed powerless to avoid such an humiliating defeat. DJ Carey remarked afterwards that from a psychological point of view it was ‘always nice’ to know that they were capable of producing a win like this. But he wasn’t reading anything into the result.
“I don’t know if we had a point to prove after what they did to us in the championship last year, but you don’t look back,” he commented.
“Wexford were poor, but they were very poor last year when Kilkenny went down to play them in Wexford Park and still they went on and won the Leinster championship. Always be wary of a wounded team!”
The pattern was set early on when Wexford started to experience difficulties in attack. Centre-forward Eoin Quigley had them ahead after half a minute and while their play looked promising for a while - with Darren Stamp and Diarmuid Lyng prominent in the half-back line - they lost ground steadily.
Kilkenny were jointly managed by selectors Mick O’Flynn, Martin Fogarty and Michael Dempsey in the absence of Brian Cody, whose brother Michael died suddenly in Qatar last week and in whose memory a minute’s silence was observed before the game.
The sizeable attendance of about 7,000 included GAA president-elect Nicky Brennan, who was introduced before the start of the game by County Board chairman Ned Quinn.
As a former back, Brennan would have been impressed by the way Kilkenny quickly asserted themselves in defence, where Noel Hickey hit a lot of ball, JJ Delaney quickly settled on the left and in time Peter Barry began to exert an influence.
At midfield, where defender James Ryall was operating in place of Brian Hogan, they also gained an advantage, mainly through Brian Barry, whose striking from placed balls was superb.
Kilkenny had much more to offer in attack, even though Wexford did look strong in the half-back line for a while, with Doc O’Connor clearing some good ball against Carey and Keith Rossiter giving Henry Shefflin little scope.
Kilkenny waited until the 14th minute for their first goal, a kicked effort from Richie Power, and Damien Fitzhenry did well to prevent Shefflin from goaling in the 24th minute.
But Shefflin did eventually find the net, in injury time, after selling O’Connor a dummy and hitting a powerful shot to the left of Fitzhenry.
It left the interval score at an intimidating 2-11 to 0-2.
The second half turned into an exhibition, with Brian Barry earning respect for the excellence of his free-taking. James Stephens star Eoin Larkin made an important contribution at centre-forward, both from play and frees.
Wexford showed a bit more drive and their best chance fell to substitute MJ Furlong in the 54th minute, but PJ Ryan brought off a terrific save.
Barry Kelly had the misfortune to be hit accidentally in the second minute after throwing in a ball, but it didn’t stop him from doing a good job of refereeing.
: Kilkenny: B Barry 0-8 (0-4 frees, 0-1 ‘65); E Larkin 0-8 (0-4 frees); DJ Carey 1-3; M Comerford 0-4; H Shefflin 1-1; R Power 1-0; T Walsh 0-2. Wexford: E Quigley, M Jacob, D Ruth (’65), N Higgins and C McGrath 0-1 each.
: PJ Ryan; M Kavanagh, N Hickey, J Tyrrell; R Mullally, P Barry, JJ Delaney; B Barry, J Ryall; M Comerford, E Larkin, T Walsh; C Phelan, DJ Carey, R Power.
: B Hogan for P Barry (37th); S Dowling for Ryall (injured 43rd minute); E McCormack for Shefflin (47th); J Fitzpatrick for Barry (58th); J Hoyne for Comerford (64th).
: D Fitzhenry; M Travers, D O’Connor, K Rossiter; D. Ruth, D. Stamp, D. Lyng; R McCarthy, D O’Brien; B Lambert, E Quigley, M Jordan; D Mythen, R Jacob, M Jacob.
: MJ Furlong for Lyng (22nd minute); N Higgins for Jordan and R Barry for M Jacob (35th); J O’Connor for Lambert (50th); C McGrath for Mythen (55th).
: B Kelly (Westmeath).