Kilkenny 3-14 Wexford 2-14: Kilkenny turned in a storming closing 10 minutes to wipe out a six point deficit before emerging with a three-point win over Wexford in their Leinster IHC final clash at Innovate Wexford Park.
Through the opening 30 minutes very little separated the sides. After Tommy Dwyer, long free, and Jack Langton exchanged points in the opening two minutes, it was Dwyer and Nicky Cleere who added on further points. Kilkenny struck for the only goal of the opening 30 minutes as centre-forward Mark Bergin found the net from close in giving his side 1-2 to 0-2 lead after nine minutes.
The sides continued to play flowing hurling with Jack Pettitt and Cleere exchanging points, before Wexford responded with three unanswered points through Nicky Kirwan, Danny Martin-Carroll and Ryan Mahon to tie the scores 0-6 to 1-3 after 18 minutes. With Dwyer continuing to hit long range points it took efforts from John Walsh, Jack Langton and Mark Bergin to keep the sides deadlocked, with Dwyer pointing an 80m free to give Wexford a 0-10 to 1-6 interval lead.
The second-half started at a blistering pace with Nicky Kirwan goaling within 60 seconds, while four minutes later Billy Ryan found the net for Kilkenny. Jack Pettitt hit back with a goal for Wexford following a mistake by Kilkenny keeper, Kevin Nolan, who was immediately substituted, and it left Wexford with a 2-12 to 2-7 lead.
However, it was Kilkenny who turned in a storming closing 10 minutes adding on 1-5 with the crucial goal arriving seven minutes from the end from substitute Richie Leahy, bringing the sides level 3-10 to 2-13. After a Kirwan point had restored Wexford’s lead with six minutes remaining, it was Kilkenny who closed out the game with points from Leahy, Conor Tobin and John Walsh to earn an All- Ireland final meeting with Clare.
M Bergin (1f) 1-4; R Leahy 1-1; B Ryan 1-0; C Tobin 0-3; J Langton, N Cleere (if), J Walsh 0-2 each.
T Dwyer 0-7 frees; J Pettitt, N Kirwan 1-2 each; J Doyle, D Martin-Carroll, R Mahon, 0-1 each.
D Hughes; A Maddock, S Murphy, K Sheridan; J Kelly, R Kehoe, J O’Connor; B Dunne, T Dwyer; J Doyle, D Mrtin-Carroll, G Moore; R Mhon, J Pettitt, N Kirwan.
J Firman for Mahon (42); E Doyle for Martin-Carroll (57).
K Nolan; E Cody, T Aylward, L Hickey; J Cleere, C Delaney, J McGrath; J Langton, S Murphy; C Tobin, M Bergin, N Cleere; S Morrissey, B Ryan, J Walsh.
S Donnelly for Cleer (inj. 29); J Brennan for Murphy (47); R Leahy for Morrissey (40); A Duggan for .Nolan (42); R Hickey for Ryan (54).
M Murtagh (Westmeath).
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