Slow start, but Cats motor on into Leinster final

Kilkenny looked anything but sure early on, but once they found their way into the game they blasted through Wexford to win easily by 3-20 to 4-6 in this Leinster under-21 hurling championship semi-final at Nowlan Park this evening, writes John Knox.

Kilkenny looked anything but sure early on, but once they found their way into the game they blasted through Wexford to win easily by 3-20 to 4-6 in this Leinster under-21 hurling championship semi-final at Nowlan Park this evening, writes John Knox.

The losers were all action after the throw-in. They had 1-4 on the scoreboard before Kilkenny knew what hit them. However, the loers faded as quickly as they opened and it was an easy passage into the final against Laois for Kilkenny.

The slick moving winners turned a one time opening half deficit of six points into a 2-9 to 1-5 lead by the break. Within 14 seconds of the restart Kevin Kelly placed Walter Walsh for a goal, and it was more or less game over for the visitors.

As if things were not bad enough for Wexford. They lost defender, Willie Deveraux in the 35th minute when he was yellow carded for the second time, and then shown red.

The Cats ploughed on and with everyone playing well, especially Walter Walsh, who won the man of the match award, Richie Doyle, Ger Aylward, John Power, Geoff Brennan and Ollie Walsh among others, they skated into a 3-18 to 2-5 lead before the Slaneysiders put in a late burst.

Two smashing goals from close in frees by Jack Guiney, in the 52nd and 56th minutes, took the bad look off things for Wexford. A rescue operation was never on.

Wexford opened as if they were going to blow away the oposition. Thanks to an 11th minute goal from Barry Carton, batted home from the edge of the square after a bullet like shot by Gary Moore had been blocked out, they led by 1-4 to 0-1 against hesitant opponents.

Within a minute Kilkenny were back in the game, courtesy of a top class solo goal from towering full-forward, Walter Walsh. From there to the end of the half they dominated as Wexford threw away chances and ran up eight wides by the break.

The losers also failed to gain any reward from a 27th minute penalty, Jack Guiney’s well struck shot being saved by Richie Doyle on the Kilkenny line.

Quickly after Walsh’s goal the Cats began to move better. They picked up the pace with points from Kevin Kelly (two frees) before John Power, who received an 11th hour call up in place of senior star, Cillian Buckley, scored the sort of goal it is worth travelling to see. Power, brother of senior star, Richie, carried the ball along the end line before slipping the it into the net in the tighest of situations against the advancing ’keeper.

Suddenly Kilkenny were all over the opposition. By half-time they turned a one time six point deficit into a seven point lead, 2-9 to 1-5. They were motoring. Within 15 seconds of the restart the game was gone on the vitirs.

Scorers: Kilkenny: Kevin Kelly (0-9, seven frees); Walter Walsh (2-1); John Power (1-1); Ger Aylward, Martin Gaffney (0-3 each); Geoff Brennan, Ccthal Kenny, Padraig Walsh (0-1 each). Wexford: Jack Guiney (2-1, frees); Micheal O’Regan (1-2); Barry Carton (1-1); Ian Byrne, Gary Moore (0-1 each).

Kilkenny – D. Walsh; J. Corcoran, W. Phelan, J. Lyng; L. Harney, R. Doyle, B. Kennedy; G. Brennan, O. Walsh; C. Kenny, P. Walsh, J. Power, G. Aylward, W. Walsh, K. Kelly. Subs: M. Gaffney for C. Kenny 43rd min; P. Buggy for K. Kelly 51st min; P. O’Carroll for R. Doyle 53rd min; O. McGrath for J. Power 56th min.

Wexford – M. Fanning; W. Deveraux, M. O’Hanlon, A. Nolan; C. Goff, J. Lacey, D. O’Keeffe; A. Nolan, M. Maloney; L. Chin, M. O’Regan, G. Moore; L. Og McGovern, J. Guiney, B. Carton. Subs: S. O’Gorman for M. Maloney 29; K. Nimmo for A. Nolan 38; I. Byrne for B. Carton 45; B. O’Gorman for A. Nolan 47; A. Nash for L. Og McGovern 54.

Ref – D Hughes (Carlow).