Kilkenny Halt losing run against Wexford and charge into League Quarter-Finals
(John Knox, Kilkenny People)
Attack leader, T.J. Reid, helped himself to 12 points as ever improving Kilkenny raced into the Allianz Hurling League quarter-finals at Nowlan Park today. The Cats now face Offaly next Sunday, with a toss deciding venue, while Wexford have a home game against All-Ireland champions, Galway in the quarter-finals.
The game attracted a fine crowd of 9,793, and while the game was competitive and some of the tackling uncompromising, the action was tense and featured a lot of handling errors by both sides.The finished was tight. It took a 73rd minute point from Walter Walsh to safeguard Kilkenny against defeat, but Wexford, who were chasing a fourth win on the trot against the opposition, never surrendered.
On 75 minutes home goalie Darren Brennan had to stand under a dropping ball and make a vital catch on his line. He did so with two forwards charging at him, and when he was fouled the losers last chance to get something from the game was gone.
The first half action swayed this way and then that. Richie Leahy was the stand out performer, and he ran midfield for Kilkenny at times.
Breeze assisted Kilkenny led all the way after T.J. Reid shot the opening two points, one from a free. The visited didn't employ a regular full-forward, and home defender Padraig Walsh cleaned up lots of loose ball as Wexford played midfielder, Shaun Murphy deep as a sweeper.
Wexford had to wait until the seventh minute for their first score, a point from free by deadly striking wing-back, Paudie Foley, who was to produce four scores during the half. The best bout of scoring was produced by Kilkenny between the 24th and 27th minutes when five players scored - T.J. Reid, Walter Walsh, John Donnelly, Leahy and Ger Aylward. That blast took them into their biggest lead of the half, 0-12 to 0-5.
Wexford later put a good run together, when Foley (free), Rory O'Connor (free), Cathal Dunbar and Foley again all registered.
Two late points for Kilkenny from Reid and Leahy, his third of the half, left the home side ahead by 0-14 to 0-9 at the break.
Wexford upped the effort after the turn and when star defender, Paudie Foley pointed in the 42nd minute the gap was down to 0-15 to 0-13. The losers were hit for a pair of minors by James Maher and T.J. Reid after that as Kilkenny protected their lead with all their might.
Kilkenny upped their advantage to six points when T.J. Reid landed a point from play in the 55th minute (0-20 to 0-14). During the closing 10 minutes Wexford let rip. A blast of four scores from Rory O'Connor had the gap back to two before Walter Walsh shot Kilkenny's last point to halt the Cats three match losing run against their neighbours.
SCORERS: Kilkenny -T.J. Reid (0-12, nine frees, one 65); R.Leahy (0-3); J. Maher, W. Walsh (0-2 each); C. Buckley, J. Donnelly, G. Aylward (0-1 each). Wexford - P. Foley (0-6, five frees); R. O'Connor (0-6, three frees, one 65); K. Foley (0-3); C. Dunbar (0-2); D. O'Keeffe, C. McDonald (0-1 each).
Kilkenny - D. Brennan; J. Holden, P. Walsh, P. Deegan; C. Delaney, C. Buckley (capt), E. Morrissey; J. Maher, R. Leahy; M. Keoghan, T.J. Reid, P. Lyng; J. Donnelly, W. Walsh, G. Aylward. Subs - L. Scanlon for P. Lyng 49th min; L. Blanchfield for Keoghan 49th min; L. Ryan for Maher 62nd min; A. Murphy for Donnelly 66th min; O. Walsh for Leahy 70th min.
Wexford - C. O'Leary; W. Devereux, L. Ryan, C. Firman; P. Foley, M. O'Hanlon, D. O'Keeffe; K. Foley, S. Murphy; A. Maddock, H. Kehoe, J. O'Connor; C. Dunbar, C. McDonald, R. O'Connor. Subs - P. Morris for Kehoe 46th min; D. Reck for A. Maddock 53rd min; A. Nolan for O'Keeffe 55th min; E. Martin for J. O'Connor 64th min; M. O'Regan for Dunbar 74th min.
Referee - J. McGrath (Westmeath).