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Shefflin goal the difference as DJ Carey's Kilkenny land first provincial title in two years

The Cats were two-point winners this evening at Innovate Wexford Park.

Kilkenny's David Blanchfield and James Brennan celebrate after the game.
Kilkenny's David Blanchfield and James Brennan celebrate after the game.
Image: Bryan Keane/INPHO

Kilkenny 1-17

Wexford 0-18

Ronan Fagan reports from Innovate Wexford Park

A FIRST-HALF Evan Shefflin goal proved priceless as DJ Carey’s Kilkenny hurlers held out for a first provincial title since 2017 against hard-trying Wexford at Wexford Park this evening in their Bord Gáis Energy Leinster U20 championship decider.

Wexford tried spiritedly to salvage a draw during five added-minutes. But the Cats held firm and now face the losers of Munster (Cork or Tipperary) in the All-Ireland semi-finals, where Wexford challenge the Munster champions.

Considerable intrigue surrounded the 11th hour decision by Kilkenny boss DJ Carey to bench senior star Adrian Mullen against Wexford, with James Bergin being the benefactor.

Despite difficult greasy conditions, intrigue mounted from early as the sides shared six points and both goals enjoyed narrow escapes, before a Niall Brassil free earned Kilkenny’s first taste of the lead after 16 minutes.

And the Cats pounced for a 1-4 to 0-4 lead in the 17th minute when Shefflin swept home a rebound for the ultimately decisive blow after Wexford ‘keeper James Lawlor had initially produced an outstanding save from Eoin Cody.

But Wexford stayed in the hunt, and two late Seán O’Connor points had them within 1-7 to 0-8 at half-time.

Wexford further encouraged the locals amongst the 6,612 attendance when drawing level on 0-12 to 1-9 after 38 minutes through Charlie McGuckin, Ross Banville (2 frees) and Cian Fitzhenry, a nephew of Damien Fitzhenry.

But Kilkenny appeared to reassert as points from David Blancfield, Seán Ryan, Eoin Cody and Eoin O’Shea opened-up a 1-13 to 0-12 gap midway through the second-half.

Kilkenny players celebrate after the game Kilkenny players celebrate after tonight's game. Source: Bryan Keane/INPHO

Wexford refused to yield as Ross Banville, Conor Scallan, Cian Fitzhenry and Chris Turner kept them in the fight, only to be denied a first clean-sweep of Leinster hurling titles for the Model County since 1970.

Scorers for Kilkenny: Niall Brassil 0-5 (4 frees), Evan Shefflin 1-2, Seán Ryan, Eoin Cody, David Blanchfield 0-2 each, James Brennan, Stephen Donnelly, Eoin O’Shea, Michael Carey 0-1 each.

Scorers for Wexford: Ross Banville 0-7 (frees), Seán O’Connor 0-3, Charlie McGuckin, Cian Fitzhenry, Chris Turner (1 free) 0-2 each, Jack Reck, Conor Scallan 0-1 each.

Kilkenny

1 Dean Mason (Ballyhale Shamrocks)

2 James Brennan (Erin’s Own)
3 Conor Flynn (Graigue Ballycallan)
4 Mikey Butler (O’Loughlin Gaels)

5 Conor Heary (O’Loughlin Gaels)
6 Michael Carey (Young Irelands)
7 David Blanchfield (Bennettsbridge)

8 Eoin O’Shea (O’Loughlin Gaels)
9 Evan Shefflin (Ballyhale Shamrocks)

13 Stephen Donnelly (Thomastown)
11 Niall Brassil (James Stephens)
12 Aaron Brennan (Graigue Ballycallan)

21 James Bergin (Clara)
14 Seán Ryan (Graigue Ballycallan)
15 Eoin Cody (Ballyhale Shamrocks)

Subs:
22 Ciarán Brennan (Bennettsbridge) for Bergin (41)
Jack Kelly (Blacks-and-Whites) for Donnelly (54)
23 John Dowd (Erin’s Own) for O’Shea (59)
24 Jim Ryan (The Rower Inistioge) for A Brennan (60+5).

Wexford

1 James Lawlor (Ferns St Aidan’s)

2 Cathal O’Connor (Rathnure)
3 Eoin Molloy (Naomh Eanna)
4 Eoin O’Leary (St Martin’s)

5 Niall Murphy (Ferns St Aidan’s)
6 Mike Kelly (Oylegate Glenbrien
7 Conor Scallan (Ferns St Aidan’s)

8 Charlie McGuckin (Naomh Eanna)
11 Ross Banville (Shelmaliers)

10 Seán Keane-Carroll (Shelmaliers)
14 Connall Clancy (Faythe Harriers)
12 Jack Reck (Oylegate Glenbrien)

13 Seán O’Connor (Rathnure)
15 Diarmuid Doyle (Marshalstown)
9 Eoin Murphy (Ferns St Aidan’s)

Subs:
22 Cian Fitzhenry (Duffry Rovers) for Keane-Carroll (5)
23 Oran Carthy (Rapparees) for Doyle (HT)
21 Chris Turner (Ferns St Aidan’s) for S O’Connor (54)
17 Ben Maddock (St Martin’s) for Banville (58)

Referee: Mick Murtagh (Westmeath)

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