Wexford put up a much better fight yesterday but the result was much the same.
For 35 minutes Liam Dunne’s lads fought the good fight. Twice in that period Kilkenny began to pull away on the scoreboard. The home side responded both times by almost reeling in seven and six-point deficits, but there was no response at the third time of asking.
Two points down at the interval, Wexford found themselves helpless in the face of a relentlessness that has punctured the soul of better teams than them. Danger emanated from every corner of Wexford Park, most notably the bench.
Cody sprang five men from his bank of reserves. Michael Fennelly, Brian Hogan, Henry Shefflin, Tommy Walsh, and Aidan Fogarty. He must have felt like a dotcom billionaire buying sports cars. Unimaginable wealth.
Cody, far from revelling in the depth of a squad he has used to the full recently, played down the notion that it was now stronger than ever.
“I said at the start that the two objectives were, if at all possible to win it and as well to give as many players game time as possible. We tried to juggle it as much as we possibly can. We’d be happy by the way it has gone, yeah.”
Yet the embarrassment of riches was only highlighted further by the identity of the game’s top scorer. TJ Reid, who bagged 3-8 for himself, missed out against the Déise last time out and played like a man eager to make up for lost time.
Reid was outstanding throughout on an afternoon when Richie Hogan drove the performance from midfield, but it looked early on as if the headliners would be a double act consisting of Walter Walsh and Richie Power.
The pair switched positions at will in the first quarter and combined beautifully to claim 1-4 for themselves in that first half. Power at one point sold a delicious dummy to a defender that allowed a team-mate an acre of space. That was the issue for Wexford. Space. Or rather, the lack of it.
Kilkenny hunted them down in every corner.
The situation was most desperate in midfield where the hosts suffered under the yoke of Hogan, Padraig Walsh and their cohorts all afternoon.
The goals were sprinkled at regular intervals over the first 45 minutes, cluster bombs in a game that rained bullets. The first was registered by Walsh after four minutes of frenetic action.
Of Reid’s three, the second was the best. A beautiful move began with a short Hogan sideline and was capped by a stunning strike. His second sounded the death knell for any hopes of a tremor rippling through the hurling fraternity.
Wexford had taken the interval on the back of an unanswered 1-4, with Ian Byrne adding the goal to the eight points bagged up to then, but Reid was left with a routine finish once Mark Kelly had robbed Matthew O’Hanlon in the red zone.
If that was bad from Wexford’s perspective then it paled into insignificance beside the strike which brought up his hat-trick: what should have been a routine free from distance ended in the net thanks to some dozy defending.
Only Rory Jacob, who scored 1-3 after the break, landed any punches of note for Wexford amidst the onslaught in what was the first meeting between the counties in league or championship since June 2011.
Scorers for Wexford: I Byrne 1-8 (6f); R Jacob 1-3; D O’Keeffe; H Kehoe; J Guiney; L Óg McGovern. P Doran 0-1 each.
Scorers for Kilkenny: TJ Reid 3-8 (1-4f, 0-1 65); W Walsh 1-3; R Power; M Kelly 0-3 each; M Fennelly 0-2; J Tyrrell; R Hogan; E Larkin 0-1 each.
Subs for Kilkenny: M Fennelly for P Murphy (48); B Hogan for Delaney (53); H Shefflin for Larkin (59); T Walsh for Fogarty (63); A Fogarty for W Walsh (60).
Subs for Wexford: A Shore for Tomkins (18); L Ryan for Rossiter (46); P Doran for Morris (48); W Devereux for O’Keeffe (51); E Martin for Kenny (56).
Wexford: M Fanning; K Rossiter, M O’Hanlon, E Moore; D O’Keeffe, L Chin, C Kenny; S Tomkins, H Kehoe; P Morris, C McDonald, I Byrne; L Og McGovern, J Guiney, R Jacob. KILKENNY: E Murphy; P Murphy, JJ Delaney, J Holden; C Fogarty, J Tyrell, K Joyce; P Walsh, R Hogan; R Power, C Fennelly, TJ Reid; W Walsh, M Kelly, E Larkin. Referee: C McAllister (Cork).