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Wexford edge Cats in hurling's first ever free-taking competition to settle pulsating Walsh Cup final

Brian Cody was sent to the stand and Richie Reid was sent off as Wexford won their first Walsh Cup in 16 years.

Image: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Wexford 1-24
Kilkenny 1-24
(Wexford win 3-2 on frees AET)

Declan Rooney reports from Nowlan Park

MARK FANNING HIT the the wining free for Wexford in hurling’s first ever free-taking competition after a cracking Walsh Cup final at Nowlan Park.

Kilkenny manager Brian Cody was sent to the stand and Richie Reid was sent off as Wexford battled back to force extra time, and despite misses from Paul Morris and Lee Chin, Wexford scored their next three frees to take the historic win.

Cody was handed his marching orders seven minutes into the second-half, shortly after Reid’s straight red card for an off-the-ball incident which was spotted by the linesman.

A spirited fightback from Davy Fitzgerald’s side, meanwhile, saw them reach parity at the death despite having trailed by eight points on three different occasions in the first half.

Both teams clash off the ball Both teams clash off the ball Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Wexford had not won the Walsh Cup in the last 16 years, and had been beaten in their last five appearances in the final, but were deserving winners in the end.

Alan Murphy was outstanding up front for Kilkenny, landing 1-11 in normal time, but ultimately missed one of the deciding frees – as did Lester Ryan and John Walsh.

There was a light breeze behind Kilkenny in the opening half but the ferocity of their start made it look like a gale as they faced into a five-point lead by the seventh minute, while Wexford failed to find the target in that period.

Ollie Walsh was first to hit the target for Kilkenny after 13 seconds, which set the tone for the opening half, while Alan Murphy landed the first of seven points before the break to double the lead. Either side of two more Murphy points, Richie Reid – younger brother of TJ – landed a great point from wide on the left for the on-song Cats.

Wexford’s first point didn’t arrive until the 13th minute when corner-back Eoin Moore roamed up the right, but their second came just a few seconds later when Aidan Nolan picked out Jack Guiney and the Rathnure man made it 0-5 to 0-2.

Murphy’s 65 in the 15th minute kept Kilkenny’s advantage secure, but he stretched that lead even further with a 17th minute penalty after Moore fouled Pat Lyng.

It was only after the penalty that Wexford began to find their feet. With Kevin Foley operating as a sweeper in front of his full-back line, Davy Fitzgerald’s side began to win more of the ball around the half-forward line and after a Paul Morris free, a great score from Harry Kehoe from the sideline cut the gap back to 1-8 to 0-5 after 21 minutes.

Wexford’s brightest patch came between the 28th and 35th minutes when they hit an unanswered four points, but a Murphy free and a well worked point from Conor Fogarty saw Kilkenny lead 1-13 to 0-11 at the interval.

Wexford certainly bossed the first 15 minutes after the restart. Points form Paul Morris and Harry Kehoe put a goal between the sides, before the game turned on its head following the sending off of Reid on the advice of the linesman.

Cody was sent to the stands by referee John O’Brien, and Wexford added a little more spice with points from Guiney and Morris to cut the Kilkenny lead to one point.

Lee Chin kicks Conor O'Shea's hurl out of play Lee Chin kicks Conor O'Shea's hurl out of play Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

But a couple of Murphy points and along range free form goalkeeper Eoin Murphy settled Kilkenny and they look likely winners, before Kevin Foley finished to the net following a goal mouth scramble with three minutes to go, and Morris forced extra time with two late points.

Two more Morris points saw Wexford lead 1-23 to 1-22 at half-time in extra-time, but it was fitting that Murphy hit a tricky free in the 93rd minute to send the game to a free-taking competition – a hurling first – in which Fanning converted the winning point.

Scorers for Wexford: P Morris 0-9 (7f), J Guiney 0-5 (3f), H Kehoe 0-3, K Foley 1-0, D Dunne 0-1, C Dunbar 0-1, E Moore 0-1, M Fanning 0-1 (1f), L Chin 0-1, Jack O’Connor 0-1, C McDonald 0-1

Scorers for Kilkenny: A Murphy 1-13 (1-0pen, 7f, 1’65), M Keoghan 0-2, O Walsh 0-2, W Walsh 0-2, E Murphy 0-2 (2f), R Reid 0-1, C Martin 0-1, C Fogarty 0-1,

Wexford

1. Mark Fanning (Glynn-Barntown)

2. Simon Donohoe (Shelmaliers)
3. Liam Ryan (Rapparees)
6. Shaun Murphy (Oulart-The Ballagh)

9. Kevin Foley (Raparees)
4. Eoin Moore (Oulart-The Ballagh)
5. Aaron Maddock (St Martin’s)

7. Eanna Martin (Carrickshock)
8. Joe O’Connor (St Martin’s)

10. Aidan Nolan (Halfway House Bunclody)
14. Jack Guiney (Rathnure)
11. Cathal Dunbar (Ballyraggett)

12. Harry Kehoe (Cloughbawn)
13. Paul Morris (Ferns St Aidan’s)
15. David Dunne (Davidstown-Courtnacuddy)

Subs

20. Matthew O’Hanlon (St James) for Martin (27 blood),
25. Jack O’Connor (St Martin’s) for Dunbar (HT),
17. Dominic Rock (Oylgate Glenbrien) for Joe O’Connor (HT),
22. Lee Chin (Faythe Harriers) for Guiney (60),
23. Conor McDonald (Naomh Eanna) for Kehoe (67)
24. Jake Firman (St Martin’s) for Nolan (67)
18. Paudie Foley (Crossbeg Ballymun) for Dunne (67)
21. Diarmuid O’Keeffe (St Anne’s) for Maddock (76)
10. Aidan Nolan for Jack O’Connor (86)
16. Jack Guiney for Liam Ryan (93)

Kilkenny

1. Eoin Murphy (Glenmore)

2. Joey Holden (Ballyhale Shamrocks)
3. Padraig Walsh (Tullaroan)
4. Paddy Deegan (O’Loughlin Gaels)

5. Enda Morrissey (Bennettsbridge)
6. Conor O’Shea (Clara)
7. Cillian Buckley (Dicksboro)

8. Conor Fogarty (Erin’s Own)
9. Ollie Walsh (Dicksboro)

10. Martin Keoghan (Tullaroan)
11. Richie Reid (Ballyhale Shamrocks)
12. Pat Lyng (Rower-Inistoigue)

13. Alan Murphy (Glenmore)
14. Walter Walsh (Tullogher-Rosbercon)
15. Conor Martin (Emeralds)

Subs

20. Lester Ryan (Clara) for Lyng (49),
25. Chris Bolger (Clare) for Martin (49),
26. Conor Browne (James Stephens) for O Walsh (70)
21. James Maher (St Lachtain’s) for Morrissey (74)
15. Conor Martin for Bolger (80)
24. John Walsh (Mullinavat) for Keoghan (80)
12. Pat Lyng for Fogarty (80)
23. Ger Malone (Mullinavat) for O’Shea (82)

Referee: John O’Brien (Laois).

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About the author:

Declan Rooney

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