Kilkenny 3-20 Wexford 2-14
THE SILVERWARE was safely defended as the Kilkenny intermediate hurlers retained their Leinster title in impressive fashion, writes Trevor Spillane.
The Cats made light of their trio to Wexford last night (Wednesday) showing their hosts no mercy as they booked an All-Ireland semi-final with Galway in August.
Pat O’Grady’s side made a good start, rallied from an early scare and then clicked into gear as they accelerated away from their rivals. It was a solid display, with a strong defence merging well with razor-sharp forwards.
The power of the forwards really shone through at the start of the second half, as two lightning quick goals in a matter of minutes left the Cats with one hand on the trophy.
Captain Robbie Walsh grabbed the first, with Rory Hickey adding the second from close range to leave Kilkenny handsomely ahead with little over 20 minutes to play (3-13 to 1-9).
Exchanges were a little closer at the beginning of the game, but the winners were still sharp from the off. Opening points from Niall Walsh, Paul Murphy and Walter Walsh meant Kilkenny were swiftly out of the blocks, but a Padge Doran goal gave the Wexford crowd reason to cheer. Kilkenny’s response was swift, Walter Walsh flicking a booming Pat Hartley free past goalkeeper Noel Carton.
Kilkenny pressed on after that, adding a flurry of points through Rory Hickey (3), blood sub Cathal Kenny, Walter Walsh and Paul Murphy. Tommy Dwyer (two frees) led the Wexford charge but they were left chasing shadows as the Cats speedily worked the sliotar around the field to create scoring chances.
Wexford did rattle off some points in the closing stages, Doran grabbing the last of those, but they trailed by four at the break (1-12 to 1-8).
That early brace of second half goals killed off Wexford’s hopes and most of their fight. Kilkenny were content to take their foot off the gas, but continued to pop over points to stay that bit further in front. Wexford had closed the gap to eight by the three-quarters stage, but Rory Hickey, Ger Aylward (2) and Niall Walsh saw them move back into double figures. Tommy Dwyer did swell the Wexford tally when he booted the sliotar to the net in the closing stages, but it couldn’t prevent Kilkenny from securing their fifth Leinster intermediate title in a row.
SCORERS: Kilkenny - Rory Hickey (1-6, 0-5 frees); Walter Walsh (1-2); Robbie Walsh (1-0); Niall Walsh, Ger Aylward (0-3 each); Paul Murphy, Cathal Kenny (0-2 each); Joe Lyng, Geoff Brennan (0-1 each). Wexford - Tommy Dwyer (1-5, 0-5 frees); Padge Doran (1-3); Liam Og McGovern (0-2); Michael Lillis, Shane O’Gorman, John Breen, Eoin Quigley (0-1 each).
Kilkenny - R. O’Neill, M. Phelan, A. Walsh, S. Norton, B. Kennedy, P. Hartley, P. Phelan, P. Murphy, J. Lyng, N. Walsh, R. Hickey, J. Brennan, R. Walsh, W. Walsh, G. Aylward. Subs: C. Kenny for J. Brennan, J. Corcoran for M. Phelan, B. Staunton for W. Walsh, G. Brennan for P. Murphy.
Wexford - N. Carton, B. McCormack, C. Lawlor, B. Kehoe, J. Tonks, E. Doyle, D. Morton, T. Dwyer, M. Lillis, L. Og McGovern, T. O’Leary, S. Doyle, R. Fox, S. O’Gorman, P. Doran. Subs: J. Breen for Doyle, C. O’Shaughnessy for Morton, E. Quigley for O’Gorman, C. O’Connor for O’Leary, S. O’Hanlon for Fox.
Referee - J. Keenan (Laois).