Ronan Fagan reports from Innovative Park
AN INJURY-TIME Lee Chin free salvaged a priceless draw for Wexford against Kilkenny in a result which ensures a first Leinster SHC final between the arch rivals since 2008 following a riveting closing-round provincial round-robin duel at Innovate Wexford Park on Saturday.
Qualification possibilities fluctuated throughout. But Dublin’s victory over Galway left Davy Fitzgerald’s men on the brink of elimination to TJ Reid’s seventh free (1-18 to 0-20), before Chin’s free from midfield ensured a justified outcome ahead and the provincial-final rematch, while Dublin await the winners of Laois and Westmeath in the Qualifiers.
While Kilkenny recalled Eoin Murphy from a long lay-off to man the goal, they rung four further changes at the eleventh-hour, as Cillian Buckley, Joey Holden, Walter Walsh and Enda Morrissey replaced Tommy Walsh, Alan Murphy, Bill Sheehan and Ger Aylward.
Wexford’s Paul Morris and Lee Chin tackle Huw Lawlor of Kilkenny.
Source: James Crombie/INPHO
The derby erupted into explosive life from the throw-in, including a number of early flashpoints as the sides shared the first four points, with Conor McDonald and Lee Chin (free) sandwiching Kilkenny hits from TJ Reid (free) and Conor Fogarty.
Wexford gained a 0-4 to 0-2 edge courtesy of monstrous scores from Kevin Foley and Paudie Foley (free), before the sides were tied five times inside the opening 22 minutes, as Adrian Mullen, Paddy Deegan, Walter Walsh, Reid (free) and Colin Fennelly replied to further Wexford scores from the inspirational Diarmuid O’Keeffe (2) and Paudie Foley (free).
Indeed, a third O’Keeffe point guided Wexford back into a lead they would retain through to half-time, when the Model County led 0-13 to 0-10, although they were unfortunate not to add a goal when Kilkenny’s Huw Lawlor made a goal-line clearance to deny Rory O’Connor a certain green-flag.
But, after some erratic shooting on the re-start, Kilkenny landed the first major blow when Colin Fennelly latched onto a poor Wexford puck-out and fed Adrian Mullen to rifle home and turn the tables by 1-11 to 0-13 after 44 minutes.
Kilkenny’s Walter Walsh and TJ Reid with Kevin Foley and Paudie Foley of Wexford.
Source: James Crombie/INPHO
The suspense kept building as Wexford regained the initiative after 49 minutes (0-15 to 1-11) with Rory O’Connor and Paul Morris whipping the locals amongst the 15,241 attendance into an increasing frenzy, before Kilkenny corner-back Paul Murphy established parity for a seventh-time after 52 minutes.
The sides were level four more times in this compelling encounter, with sub Jack O’Connor on the mark twice for battling Wexford, who eventually warded off elimination at the hands of TJ Reid’s last free when Lee Chin intervened two minutes into added-time from a dead-ball at midfield to thunderous cheers from the home support.
Scorers for Wexford: Lee Chin 0-6 (5 frees, 1 ’65), Diarmuid O’Keeffe 0-4, Conor McDonald, Pádraig Foley (2 frees), Rory O’Connor, Paul Morris, Jack O’Connor 0-2 each, Kevin Foley 0-1.
Scorers for Kilkenny: TJ Reid (0-7 frees), Adrian Mullen (1-3), Colin Fennelly (0-2), Conor Fogarty, Paddy Deegan, Walter Walsh, Paul Murphy, Joey Holden, Pádraig Walsh 0-1 each.
1 Mark Fanning (Glynn Barntown)
4 Simon Donohoe (Shelmaliers)
3 Liam Ryan (Rapparees)
2 Damien Reck (Oylegate Glenbrien)
7 Shaun Murphy (Oulart The Ballagh)
6 Matthew O’Hanlon (St James’)
5 Pádraig Foley (Crossabeg Ballymurn)
9 Diarmuid O’Keeffe (St Anne’s)
11 Liam Óg McGovern (St Anne’s)
of the team
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10 Rory O’Connor (St Martin’s)
14 Lee Chin (Faythe Harriers)
8 Kevin Foley (Rapparees)
12 Paul Morris (Ferns St Aidan’s)
13 Cathal Dunbar (Naomh Éanna)
15 Conor McDonald (Naomh Éanna)
19 Jack O’Connor (St Martin’s) for Dunbar (ht); 20 Aidan Nolan (HWH Bunclody) for McGovern (54), 21 David Dunne (Davidstown Courtnacuddy) for Morris (64).
1 Eoin Murphy (Glenmore)
6 Pádraig Walsh (Tullaroan)
3 Huw Lawlor (O’Loughlin Gaels)
17 Joey Holden (Ballyhale Shamrocks)
18 Enda Morrissey (Bennettsbridge)
7 Paddy Deegan (O’Loughlin Gaels)
2 Paul Murphy (Danesfort)
21 Cillian Buckley (Dicksboro)
5 Conor Fogarty (Erin’s Own)
9 Richie Leahy (The Rower Inistioge)
26 Walter Walsh (Tullogher Rosbercon)
12 TJ Reid (Ballyhale Shamrocks)
10 Adrian Mullen (Ballyhale Shamrocks)
14 Colin Fennelly (Ballyhale Shamrocks)
11 Billy Ryan (Graigue-Ballycallan)
19 Jason Cleere (Bennettsbridge) for Deegan (17), 23 John Donnelly (Thomastown) for Reid (temp., 23-24), 25 James Maher (St Lachtain’s) for Buckley (50), 24 Liam Blanchfield (Bennettsbridge) for Ryan (56), John Donnelly for W Walsh (68).
Referee: Fergal Horgan (Tipperary).
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