Kilkenny 1-23 Wexford 2-12
Kilkenny have won their eighth Leinster SHC title in nine seasons, and 63rd in all, courtesy of a comfortable 1-23 to 2-12 win over Wexford in today's Croke Park final.
In front of a 44,081-strong crowd, Henry Shefflin helped himself to 1-07 (5f) in a provincial decider which failed to catch fire.
The dominant Cats led 1-09 to 0-04 at the break with Shefflin flashing home a Martin Comerford pass to the net on 19 minutes. Wexford goalkeeper Damien Fitzhenry then blazed a penalty chance over.
Rory Jacob’s 45th-minute goal gave the Models a lifeline but Kilkenny were always one step ahead. Impressive Wexford substitute Michael Jacob (1-04) struck a late consolation goal, but by that time, Brian Cody's men were already home and dry and turning their attention to the All-Ireland quarter-finals in three weeks' time.
Two Shefflin frees got Kilkenny off to an easy start. James 'Cha' Fitzpatrick tagged on one from play before Wexford ended a spell of poor shooting with a neat score from the left wing from Rory Jacob.
Midfielder Eoin Quigley tapped over Wexford's second and what looked like the promise of an evenly-contested game followed when Declan Ruth angled over a brilliant free from distance - 0-03 apiece and all to play for.
However, Kilkenny are not champions for nothing and they bossed the closing 20 minutes of the first half to take an eight-point advantage into the break. Richie Mullally pointed, then Comerford's hand pass was smacked home first time by Shefflin for a classy goal.
Six minutes later, Quigley earned a penalty for the Models but veteran net minder Fitzhenry slipped as he pulled on the trigger and his shot frustratingly rose over the bar. A goal then and it might have been a different game.
Two points apiece from Eddie Brennan and Comerford, as well as a late Shefflin free saw Kilkenny coast into a 1-09 to 0-04 lead. Wexford were just about in touch after a five-point burst from the Cats.
The introduction of Michael Jacob and MJ Furlong had little impact for Wexford, although Jacob did go on to collect 1-04. Stephen Doyle hit the first two points of the second half before Shefflin fired over a free.
Doyle's third free followed, substitute Jacob opened his account before his brother Rory raced through on a thrilling 30-metre run, leaving Tommy Walsh and Donnacha Cody in his wake, to bat one-handed to the Kilkenny net for an inspirational goal.
Stung by this, Kilkenny simply put Wexford out of sight, and in some style. A 1-10 to 1-08 lead was soon bulked up to 1-17 to 1-08 with Fitzpatrick, Shefflin (0-02), Comerford, Derek Lyng, captain Jackie Tyrrell and substitute Richie Power all scoring.
The Jacobs, with Michael pointing twice, replied for Seamus Murphy's stricken side. Kilkenny effortlessly came again with five successive points - Michael Rice and substitute Michael Fennelly were notable scorers.
With the result beyond doubt, Michael Jacob grabbed Wexford's second goal after a Rory McCarthy effort had bounced up off Kilkenny stopper James McGarry and into Jacob's path. Power, striking over his third point, and Jacob closed out the scoring of an altogether forgettable final.
J McGarry; D Cody, JJ Delaney, N Hickey; J Tyrrell (capt) (0-01), J Tennyson, T Walsh; D Lyng (0-01), R Mullally (0-01); E Brennan (0-02), J Fitzpatrick (0-02), M Rice (0-01); M Comerford (0-04), E Larkin, H Shefflin (1-07).
M Fennelly (0-01), R Power (0-03), W O’Dwyer.
D Fitzhenry (0-01); M Travers, D O’Connor, K Rossiter (capt); R Kehoe, D Ruth (0-01), D Lyng; E Quigley (0-01), C Kenny; R McCarthy, D Stamp, PJ Nolan; S Doyle (0-03), R Jacob (1-02), M Jordan.
M Jacob (1-04), MJ Furlong, T Mahon, M Doyle.
Diarmuid Kirwan (Cork)