Kilkenny dominate NHL semi-final

Kilkenny 2-22 Wexford 2-7

Kilkenny 2-22 Wexford 2-7

The first of today's NHL Division One semi-finals at Semple Stadium proved a mismatch as Kilkenny comfortably saw off the challenge of Wexford, winning by 2-22 to 2-7.

The Cats looked in menacing form as they moved 2-5 to 1-0 ahead, with Aidan Fogarty putting his name to both goals after 25 seconds and 13 minutes.

Stephen Nolan rasped home a third-minute major for a Wexford side that were always second best. They trailed by 2-10 to 1-3 at the break.

Richie Power, Eddie Brennan and Martin Comerford raced Kilkenny further clear before Wexford full-forward Darren Stamp netted a late consolation goal.

Brian Cody's Cats had eight points to spare when they met Wexford in last summer's Leinster SHC final and it seems little has changed since then, despite some impressive performances from the Model county side in the league's regulation phase.

The trip to the revamped Thurles venue was strictly business for Kilkenny and they showed their intent by working Fogarty in for his first goal after only 25 seconds.

A ball in from Eoin Larkin caused trouble for the Wexford defence and it was played into the path of Fogarty who flicked a clever shot past a stranded Damien Fitzhenry for goal number one.

James 'Cha' Fitzpatrick fired over a point from 50 metres out, soon after, to leave a Wexford side, which included David 'Doc' O'Connor at left corner back in place of late withdrawal Paul Roche (hamstring), in early trouble.

They did strike back in the third-minute when Nolan rippled the Kilkenny net after a clever line ball in from Keith Rossiter, but their first half points' tally of 0-3 left them with a mountain to climb.

Fogarty was fouled for a penalty in the tenth-minute which gave Power, who struck over two early points, the chance to add his side's second goal, but veteran Wexford keeper Damien Fitzhenry, who was making his 161st appearance for the county, brought off a fantastic save.

Three minutes later though, the Duffry Rovers man was picking the sliotar out of net after Fogarty had slammed home his second major, following up on a Brennan shot that had been initially saved by Fitzhenry.

Derek Lyng, Brennan, Comerford and Power, who finished the half with 0-5 (5f), all sent over points as Kilkenny strode confidently towards half-time, armed with a 12-point buffer.

It was a case of more of the same on the resumption as it took just 45 seconds for Larkin to add to the Cats' tally.

Paul Carley, Nolan and Michael Jacob did rally the Wexford troops and their efforts were rewarded when Stamp turned sharply to rocket a late shot to the champions' net.

It mattered little though, as, worryingly from a Leinster hurling point of view, Kilkenny were far too good for their opponents, even without Henry Shefflin, last year's top scorer in the championship.

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