Kilkenny & DL1
THERE WERE plenty of new faces, but it proved to be the same old story for the Kilkenny & District League’s Oscar Traynor aspirations.
Manager Ollie Walsh tried his best to revive the Cats’ fortunes in this year’s competition, bringing in several members of the League’s youth panel, but the experience of Wexford spoke volumes at Derdimus on Sunday.
The visitors were a sharper outfit, each player more familiar with the team’s style of play. They used it to good effect, giving an impressive and dominant first half display that all but confirmed their place in the next round.
The effort put in by Kilkenny’s players had to be commended, but still the burning question lingers: why is it that so many players prefer to give the competition a miss rather than aim for national glory?
Several players from various clubs have opted not to line out, despite getting call-ups from manager Ollie Walsh. How he could have done with plenty of those faces, not least in a first half when Kilkenny faced some serious pressure and again in the second when they began to fight their way back into the reckoning.
Wexford, who beat Waterford in the opening round of fixtures, knew that a win would set them up nicely for a last day meeting with Tipp. As a result, it was no surprise to see them come at Kilkenny with all guns blazing.
It took the visitors just five minutes to register their first real chance. Paul Murphy started and finished the move, sending Kyle Dempsey on his way before taking the return pass, but Eoin Wall made a super save to deny the striker from the corner of the six-yard box.
The let-off proved fleeting, as within 60 seconds Wexford were in front. Dempsey’s corner was met by Jason Murphy, who saw his effort come back off the bar, but Shane Dempsey dashed in to bundle the ball home before the static Kilkenny defence could react.
Wexford found the direct route to goal most profitable, driving at the heart of the home defence as they pushed for a second goal. Paul Murphy created panic when he turned inside Dylan Whearty’s blind side and tried to knock a low shot inside Eoin Wall’s far post, but pushed the ball just outside the target.
They had another chance to double their lead on 17 minutes, this time breaking on the counter-attack. Shane Dempsey picked off a Niall Andrews header and sent it back downfield to Murphy. He showed great strength to hold off his marker and whip in a low cross, but Eugene O’Brien’s toe-poke flashed just wide.
The Cats had largely been overwhelmed in the opening quarter, but had a great chance to bag an equaliser out of the blue. Awarded a free after Andrews was fouled outside the box Chris Whearty let fly with a dipping, teasing 23rd minute effort but Lee Walker produced a stunning save, diving low to his right to push the ball to safety.
Wexford went back on the attack after that and were a little unlucky not to score again. In a disastrous mix-up at the back the Cats failed to clear their lines, allowing Eugene O’Brien to pounce.
Although dragged back by Jack Poyntz - Kilkenny’s best and busiest performer in the opening half - O’Brien stayed on his feet and tried to beat Eoin Wall. His shot was half-stopped by the netminder, while Paul Murphy slammed the follow-up into a post. The rebound came back to O’Brien, but Derek Brennan was there to make a goal-line clearance.
Wexford were loud in their protests about getting the ‘advantage’ when a penalty looked certain, but the smiles returned to their faces when they doubled their lead on 34 minutes. Jason Murphy was the provider, curling in a peach of a cross to Paul Murphy, who beat the defender at the back post with a powerful header that flew inside the post.
Down but not out, Kilkenny pushed on. Eight minutes from half-time young winger Conor English did well to win a deep cross and work it back to Jack Poyntz. The full-back fired in a delivery that Lee Walker called for, but Damien Raggett got there first - unfortunately, he couldn’t keep his flick on target.
Kilkenny made a change just before half-time, bringing teenager Dean Cornally in for Dylan Whearty, with NialAndrews going to centre-half. However, it wasn’t enough to stem the flow of Wexford’s attack. Jason Murphy almost added his name to the scoresheet with a stinging 49th minute free-kick that beat the defensive wall, but Eoin Wall got down low to his right to stop the ball.
The ’keeper wasn’t as lucky six minutes later, as Wexford finally bagged their third. Kyle Dempsey caught Kilkenny cold with a quick free, floating the ball in for Eugene O’Brien to flick inside the far post.
Kilkenny still refused to give in however, and finally opened their account within 60 seconds. Dean Cornally got them going by winning possession in midfield, sending the ball out left to Eddie Nugent.
Skipping past his man, Nugent drilled a low cross into the heart of the box, giving Conor English time to steal in from the right wing and sidefoot home.
Kilkenny sparked into life around that stage which, although late in the game, gave the hosts hope. Moving the ball around well - Cornally grew in confidence as the game wore on, completing some tidy play in the centre of midfield while Conor English worked well on the wing - but Wexford shored up in defence and put the squeeze on the Cats.
Try as they might, Kilkenny couldn’t find a way through for a second goal something which would have unsettled Wexford. Their hopes were also hit by the loss of Eddie Clifford in the closing stages, the midfielder limping out of the game through injury.
Now down to 10 men, Kilkenny were finally sunk when Wexford added a fourth goal 12 minutes from time. Keith Kearney tried to whip in a dangerous cross from the left, but got a better result than expected when his delivery curled over the head of Wall and dropped into the net.
Kilkenny & DL: Eoin Wall, Jack Poyntz, Paul O’Brien, Derek Brennan, Dylan Whearty (Dean Cornally, 43 mins), Niall Andrews, Conor English, Eddie Clifford, Damien Raggett, Chris Whearty (Emmet Nugent, 65 mins), Eddie Nugent (Vinny O’Brien, 56 mins).
Wexford League: Lee Walker, Paul Rossiter (Warren Broaders, 60 mins), Keith Kearney, Gareth McCurtain, Lee Chin, Chris Kenny, Shane Dempsey, Kyle Dempsey (James Carthy, 71 mins), Jason Murphy (Sean Culleton, 77 mins), Paul Murphy, Eugene O’Brien.
Referee: Packie Geoghegan. Linesmen: Eoin Walsh, Pat O’Connor (all Kilkenny).