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Wexford are back! Davy Fitzgerald's men stun Kilkenny to book first Leinster final in 9 years

The Boys are Back in Town rang out across the stadium as Fitzgerald emerged from his custom-made box in the press area to a rousing reception.

Wexford 1-20

Kilkenny 3-11

Kevin O’Brien reports from Wexford Park

WEXFORD ARE HEADING to their first Leinster SHC final since 2008 after a heroic victory over Kilkenny in Wexford Park.

Matthew O’Hanlon celebrates a score Source: James Crombie/INPHO

Davy Fitzgerald’s side had three points to spare in a pulsating affair that was a wonderful advertisement for hurling.

‘The Boys are Back in Town’ rang out from the stadium’s PA system as Fitzgerald emerged from his custom-made box to a rousing reception.

In a rip-roaring encounter, Wexford blew the Leinster championship wide open with massive displays from Lee Chin, Diarmuid O’Keeffe, Shaun Murphy and Paul Morris.

Wexford led by eight points after David Redmond’s 40th minute goal, but three-pointers from Reid (penalty) and Colin Fennelly left Kilkenny behind by a point, 3-9 to 1-16, on 55 minutes.

Colin Fennelly tackled by Shaun Murphy Source: James Crombie/INPHO

Then Chin plucked a Mark Fanning puck-out from the sky and rifled over a 65, before Matthew O’Hanlon settled the home side further with a fine score. Kilkenny pushed for a later goal, but the sight of Richie Hogan being withdrawn for sub-keeper Richie Reid was a clear sign their race was run.

The results in the championship so far this year suggest that the ‘Revolution Years’ hurling landscape we experienced in the 1990s could be returning.

This marked Wexford’s first championship victory over the Cats since 2004, and they did it in style.

This was Kilkenny’s second competitive defeat in-a-row, after losing to Wexford in the quarter-finals of the Allianz League on 2 April.

Wexford Park heaved with 18,467 in attendance and the majority of the crowd in position a good 90 minutes before throw-in.

Lee Chin Source: Oisin Keniry/INPHO

Fitzgerald was tucked away out of sight behind tinted windows in the press area, where he had an outstanding view of the proceedings below.

Kilkenny’s problems were apparent early on.

Ger Aylward hit at least four wides in the opening half and was whipped off by Cody before half-time. Padraig Walsh, who had been struggling with a foot injury in the build-up, also left the scene in the first-half after struggling to get involved.

Cody opted to go with Conor Fogarty as his sweeper, with Paul Murphy and Kieran Joyce minding the house behind him.

Kilkenny packed the middle third with Hogan partnering Cillian Buckley at midfield and a four-man half-forward line of Reid, Padraig Walsh, Ryan and Walter Walsh.

Reid’s goaled penalty inside two minutes gave Kilkenny an electric start, but Wexford dominated the exchanges around the middle third.

Brian Cody Source: James Crombie/INPHO

Backed by the breeze, the home side hit five unanswered scores to lead by 0-5 to 1-0 after the opening quarter. Lester Ryan and Paddy Deegan were the only Kilkenny players to score from play in a half where they hit nine wides.

Three frees apiece from Chin and McDonald left the Model County in front by 0-12 to 1-5 at the interval.

Redmond’s goal five minutes after the restart sent Fitzgerald’s men 1-13 to 1-5 in front, but Kilkenny coldly began to cut away at that lead. Reid slotted over three placed balls and then Fennelly struck for his goal on 53 minutes.

The Ballyhale Shamrocks forward beautifully placed an effort into the top corner from outside the 21m to spark his team back into life.

Shaun Murphy celebrates after the game Source: James Crombie/INPHO

Three minutes later and Kilkenny had a third goal. This time Fennelly turned provider, winning a delivery over Liam Ryan before he was dragged down by Murphy. Reid’s second penalty was as clinical as the first.

Wexford responded with a pair of massive Chin scores, one 65, and then O’Hanlon clipped one over to extend their lead to three.

Kilkenny sub Chris Bolger had two separate sniffs of goal as the away side chased a late three-pointer, but this was Wexford’s day.

Scorers for Wexford: Lee Chin 0-6 (0-3f, 0-2 65), Conor McDonald 0-5 (0-4f) Paul Morris 0-3, David Redmond 1-0, Matthew O’Hanlon, Diarmud O’Keeffe, Liam Ryan, Jack O’Connor and Shane Tomkins 0-1 each.

Scorers for Kilkenny:  TJ Reid 2-7 (2-0 pen, 0-6f, 0-1 65), Colin Fennelly 1-0, Lester Ryan 0-2, Walter Walsh and Paddy Deegan 0-1 each.

Wexford

1. Mark Fanning (Glynn Barntown)

2. Simon Donohoe (Shelmaliers)
5. Shaun Murphy (Oulart-The-Ballagh)
19. Willie Devereux ( St Martin’s)

6. Matthew Hanlon (St James)
3. Liam Ryan (Rapparees)
4. James Breen (Adamstown)

7. Diarmuid O’Keeffe (St Anne’s)
9. Aidan Nolan (Half-Way-House/Bunclody)

14. Lee Chin (Faythe Harriers)
15. Paul Morris (Ferns St Aidan’s)
10. Jack O’Connor (St Martin’s)

13. Conor McDonald (Naomh Eanna

20. Jack Guiney (Rathnure)
12. Harry Kehoe (Cloughbawn)

Subs

11. David Redmond for O’Connor (32)
25. Shane Tomkins for Nolan (58)
22. Podge Doran for Kehoe (62)
21. Kevin Foley for Morris (66)

Kilkenny

1. Eoin Murphy (Glenmore)

6. Paul Murphy (Danesfort)
5. Conor Fogarty (Erin’s Own)
7. Kieran Joyce (Rower Inistioge)

8. Cillian Buckley (Dicksboro)
2. Robert Lennon (Bennettsbridge)
4. Conor O’Shea (Clara)

14. Richie Hogan (Danesfort)
9. Paddy Deegan (O’Loughlin Gaels)
10. Lester Ryan (Clara)

12. TJ Reid (Ballyhale Shamrocks)
3. Padraig Walsh (Tullaroan)
11. Walter Walsh (Tullogher Rosbercon)

13. Ger Aylward (Glenmore)
15. Colin Fennelly (Ballyhale Shamrocks)

Subs

23. Liam Blanchfield for Walsh (29)
24. Chris Bolger for Aylward (32)
22. Kevin Kelly for Walsh (63)
16. Richie Reid for Hogan (67)

Referee: Fergal Horan (Tipperary)

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About the author:

Kevin O'Brien

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