Kilkenny did the business as expected and won through to the Allianz National Hurling League semi-finals when proving too good for Wexford in Wexford Park yesterday.
The defending champions won by 4-22 to 2-16 to claim a semi-final berth against Limerick in three weeks time.
The winners were on fire form the start, with Walter Walsh and Richie Power the pick of an attack that threatened to bury the home side under an avalanche of scores. Walsh scored a goal after only 90 seconds, and with a second one from top scorer T.J. Reid in the 20th minute the Cats led by 2-7 to 0-6.
Three times during the half Wexford found themselves eight points adrift, and they looked to be sinking. However, they put in a strong finish to the half and a goal from top scorer Ian Byrne right on break brought them back into the match (2-10 to 1-12).
Kilkenny burst into action after the restart. T.J. Reid had the ball in the Wexford net within 30 seconds, and with a rush of points from Mark Kelly, Reid, Jackie Tyrrell and Richie Power they opened up a 3-14 to 1-13 lead by the 44th minute.
There was only going to be one winner from there on.
“We played well and the panel is coming along nicely,” Kilkenny manager, Brian Cody said afterwards. “We are in the semi-finals now, and we want to win it, as we do the League title if we can. The main thing is that the panel is strong when we finish in the League, and things are looking decent now.”
Scorers: Kilkenny - T.J. Reid (3-8, 1-4 frees, two 65s’); Walter Walsh (1-3); Richie Power, Mark Kelly (0-3 each); Michael Fennelly (0-2 each); Richie Hogan, Jackie Tyrrell, Eoin Larkin (0-1 each). Wexford - Ian Byrne (1-8, six points frees); Rory Jacob (1-2); Liam Og McGovern (0-2); Diarmuid O’Keeffe, Harry Kehoe, Jack Guiney, Podge Doran (0-1 each).