SCORERS: Kilkenny – Eoin Murphy (1-7, 0-5 frees, 0-1 65); Ger Shelly (1-2); Adrian Stapleton (0-3); J.J. Farrell (0-2); Kieran Joyce, Willie O’Dwyer, Walter Walsh, Simon Burke, Seoirse Kenny (0-1 each). Wexford – Tomas O’Leary, Nigel Higgins (1-1); John O’Connor (0-3, free), Benny Jordan, Paddy Whitley, Ciaran O’Shaughnessy (0-1 each).
IT MAY be a new team, but was the same old winning ways for the Kilkenny intermediate hurlers.
A brand new side showed Wexford no mercy as they surged to victory to secure their fourth successive Leinster title at Nowlan Park last night (Wednesday).
Forced to select a whole new panel after winning last year’s All-Ireland final – they beat Cork by 2-17 to 1-13 in the 2010 decider – once Kilkenny got into the game they proved unstoppable.
The Cats opened with points from Jonjo Farrell, Willie O’Dwyer and captain Adrian Stapleton, but were left trailing when Wexford’s Tomas O’Leary gathered a breaking ball and hammered it to the Kilkenny net.
That goal left the visitors in front at the end of the first quarter (1-1 to 0-3), but it also stirred Kilkenny into action. Points Ger Shelly and Eoin Murphy (free) drew them level by the 22nd minute before Murphy gave goalkeeper Ben O’Connor no chance with a searing strike from close range.
Pat Hoban’s side quickly built on that advantage, as the forwards clicked into gear. Adrian Stapleton grabbed a brace of points, followed by another double from Murphy as they moved six clear by half-time (1-9 to 1-3).
Kilkenny were full value for that lead, but a revived Wexford set about chasing them down after the restart. Taking the upper hand they moved the ball around well, sniping off points before Nigel Higgins fired home a venomous goal to cut the gap to two (1-12 to 2-7) with 15 minutes to play.
Sensing trouble, Kilkenny stepped up the pace. Ger Shelly hit the perfect reply, blasting a goal from point-blank range two minutes later to settle Kilkenny’s nerves. With points from Farrell and Murphy swiftly following the Cats were now seven clear (2-14 to 2-7).
With their spirit broken, Wexford offered little resistance after that. They could only manage one more point, a John O’Connor free, while Murphy (free, 65), Shelly and subs Simon Burke and Seoirse Kenny made sure Kilkenny stretched their winning margin into double figures.
See next week’s Kilkenny People for match reaction with Kilkenny’s intermediate manager Pat Hoban.
Kilkenny – Richie O’Neill (Kilmacow), Ian Duggan (Mullinavat), Michael Walsh (Young Irelands), Sean Phelan (Lisdowney), P.J. Rowe (Mooncoin), Stephen Byrne (Young Irelands), Richie Doyle (Barrow Rangers), Conor Conway (Mullinavat), Kieran Joyce (Rower-Inistioge), Eoin Murphy (Glenmore), Willie O’Dwyer (Mullinavat), Walter Walsh (Tullogher-Rosbercon), Adrian Stapleton (Dicksboro), J.J. Farrell (Thomastown), G. Shelly (John Lockes). Subs: Michael Grace (Mooncoin) for Conway, 36 mins; Simon Burke (John Lockes) for Byrne, 46 mins; Luke Harney (Kilmacow) for Rowe and Eddie Hickey (Lisdowney) for Stapleton, both 57 mins; Seoirse Kenny (St Patrick’s) for Farrell, 59 mins.
Wexford – Ben O’Connor, Darren Kehoe, Eoin Boggan, Barry Kehoe, Benny Jordan, Brendan Hobbs, Brendan Travers, Paddy Whitley, Ciaran O’Shaughnessy, Peter Murphy, Frank Cullen, Eamonn Furlong, Tomas O’Leary, Nigel Higgins, Brendan O’Leary. Subs: John O’Connor for Murphy, 34 mins; Johnny Dwyer for Kehoe, 50 mins; John Breen for O’Leary, 54 mins.
Referee – Pat Murphy (Carlow).