While Murphy looked to have secured his side’s passage to a final meeting with Galway, the Model County still had a chance to secure victory when, straight from the puck-out, they worked the ball cleverly downfield, leaving substitute Cathal Dunbar with a goal chance. However, his effort was superbly pushed around the post by goalkeeper Richie Reid for a 65 that Lee Chin sent narrowly wide.
Kilkenny boss Brian Cody was delighted with the result. “We knew we were going to be put under pressure in this game for Wexford have been on a high over recent weeks,” he said.
“But no team will lose the run of themselves after this game, it’s still very early in the season. Still this was a hugely competitive game which went right down to the final whistle. This was a positive result for us, we’ll go away and now look forward to Galway on Sunday next.
“I was quite happy with everything that happened out on the pitch to day, the lads showed commitment, hurled well in trying conditions, against what was a hugely competitive and impressive Wexford side.”
While Wexford manager Davy Fitzgerald was delighted with the large crowd, he is still urging patience. “You could sense the crowd getting frustrated in the first half, that will have to stop — give the lads a chance. They have spent the last 20 years and won nothing. I know what it takes for when I went into Clare it took a year, a year and half. They lads are putting in a massive effort,” he said.
“We have been trying different things. Have tried 23/24 players in this competition. We have Conor (McDonald) missing today, with blood infection from the Dublin game, Jack (Guiney) is only back a week after hamstring, then the three cruciate injured players.”
Fitzgerald was still quite pleased with yesterday’s performance.
“The players would like to have won. I would like to have won. We have been trying different things, and that is difficult against a side like Kilkenny, for there’s no better team to bottle you up in the tackle. Still, in the second half we worked some fine moves, picked off some fine points. I don’t think Kilkenny created a single shot for goal, which is something against them, but we create two or three.
“What I liked is we were three points down at half time, fought back. When they went ahead at the end, we still came back, created the goal chance. The player went for the goal. I was delighted with that — he could have slipped it over the bar. I will always urge my players to go out and express themselves, make up their own mind when it comes to chances like that. That’s what it’s all about.
“Looking to the league the pressure is on Limerick and Galway. There is no pressure on us but we will be going out to give it one right last. I am working with a super bunch of lads, the work they put in, the work they put into the analysis, one could not fault them. I would love to see them do something and bring home some silverware. Look it’s January, so hopefully the improvement will continue. At the end of my two years hopefully something will have happened.”
Kilkenny began brightly, shooting into a 0-4 to 0-1 lead after 15 minutes, Alan Murphy pointing three frees along with a Pat Lyng effort, while Eoin Moore had Wexford’s opening score after 12 minutes. Wexford then hit two unanswered points through Chin, free, and Matthew O’Hanlon, but it was Kilkenny who continued to push on, leading 0-7 to 0-4 at the half.
Wexford loosened up on the resumption as Chin, with three points, and Jack O’Connor all responded with scores, levelling the score at 0-8 after 41 minutes.
Kilkenny were still responding with points through a Murphy free, and Cillian Buckley, leaving them leading 0-13 to 0-10 with 12 minutes remaining.
The sides continued to trade points, leaving them tied 0-14 two minutes from the end, but then came Murphy’s late winning free.
M Fanning; S Donohue, L Ryan, E Moore (0-1); S O’Gorman, M O’Hanlon (0-1), D O’Keeffe; S Murphy, J O’Connor (0-2, 0-1 sideline cut); A Maddock, D Redmond, K Foley; N Kirwan, L Chin (0-9, 0-8 frees), P Doran (0-1).
D Dunne for O’Connor; C Dunbar for Kirwan; A Noan for Foley; H Kehoe for Redmond.
R Reid; J Holden, R Lennon, P Walsh; C Buckley (0-1), P Murphy, C Fogarty; O Walsh, P Deegan (0-1); P Lyng (0-2), C Martin (0-1), J Maher; A Murphy (0-10 frees), J Farrell, R Leahy.
L ryan for O Walsh; M Malone for Martin.
B Gavin (Offaly).