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Kilkenny rally from nine points down but Morris' seven points helps Wexford to crucial win

Davy Fitzgerald’s side held off a gutsy comeback from the Cats at home.

Lee Chin on the ball for Wexford.
Lee Chin on the ball for Wexford.
Image: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Wexford 1-16

Kilkenny 1-14

Ronan Fagan reports from Chadwicks Wexford Park

LATE POINTS FROM sub Diarmuid O’Keeffe and Paul Morris wrestled a crucial derby victory for Wexford from Sunday’s absorbing third-round Allianz NHL Division 1 Group B duel with Kilkenny at wintry Chadwicks Wexford Park.

Kilkenny were within 1-10 to 0-6 after facing the gale in the first-half, and the black-and-amber seemed perfectly set after pouncing for an early second-half Billy Ryan goal.

But Wexford lifted themselves during the closing quarter especially, and after introducing Lee Chin, Diarmuid O’Keeffe and Matthew O’Hanlon from the injury dock, the purple-and-gold clawed themselves back into the chase for the knockout stages following their setback against Clare.

Despite still resting the Ballyhale Shamrocks and Tullaroan players following their respective All-Ireland Club heroics, Kilkenny defied facing the strong gale for James Maher to point them in front after three minutes.

Wexford fully appreciated the need to bank serious credit while assisted by the gale, and after turning the tables with points from Conor McDonald and Jack O’Connor, that pair joined forces for a sixth-minute goal – McDonald collecting an O’Connor line-ball and losing his marker to flick overhead to the net to put them 1-2 to 0-1 ahead.

Damien Reck and Pádraig Foley (free) extended the margin to 1-4 to 0-1 before Wexford revitalised themselves after some brief struggles to stretch clear by 1-8 to 0-2 by the 23rd-minute with doubles from both Aidan Nolan and Paul Morris (frees).

Davy Fitzgerald protested several borderline decisions, and exchanged words up-close with Brian Cody as Kilkenny began to pack lots of danger during the second quarter only to be foiled twice by ‘keeper Mark Fanning as well as ‘sweeper’ Kevin Foley.

Regardless, the Cats were surely delighted to be within 1-10 to 0-6 at half-time as captain Walter Walsh (2), John Donnelly, Richie Hogan, Alan Murphy (free) found the range late on.

Kilkenny returned with added purpose as Walter Walsh located Billy Ryan for a goal three minutes after the resumption to help narrow the gap to 1-11 to 1-7.

davy-fitzgerald-celebrates-at-the-final-whistle Davy Fitzgerald celebrates at the final whistle. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

The Noresiders really had the wind in their sails as their supporters amongst the 7,200 crowd scented a third straight victory after Martin Keoghan, ‘keeper Alan Murphy (free) and Richie Hogan (2) tied matters on 48 minutes before John Donnelly restored the initiative for Kilkenny after 51 minutes (1-12 to 1-11).

But Wexford really knuckled down, and Paul Morris put over two frees while Jack O’Connor also weighed in to transform things by 1-14 to 1-12 after 57 minutes.

Kilkenny regained parity through Paddy Deegan and Alan Murphy (1-14 each).

But Diarmuid O’Keeffe ghosted up the left flank to craft an inspiring lead-restoring point for Wexford, before Paul Morris tagged on a free as the home defence held strong to extract a priceless result.

Scorers for Wexford: Paul Morris 0-7 (6 frees), Conor McDonald 1-1, Jack O’Connor 0-3, Aidan Nolan 0-2, Damien Reck, Pádraig Foley (free), Diarmuid O’Keeffe 0-1 each.

Scorers for Kilkenny: Alan Murphy 0-4 (4 frees), Richie Hogan 0-3, Billy Ryan 1-0, John Donnelly 0-2, James Maher, Walter Walsh, Darren Brennan (free), Martin Keoghan, Paddy Deegan 0-1 each.

Wexford

1. Mark Fanning (Glynn Barntown)

4. Joe O’Connor (St Martin’s)
3. Liam Ryan (Rapparees)
2. Simon Donohoe (Shelmaliers)

7. Shaun Murphy (Oulart The Ballagh)
6. Pádraig Foley (Crossabeg Ballymurn)

5. Damien Reck (Oylegate Glenbrien)
10. Liam Óg McGovern (St Anne’s)
9. Aidan Rochford (St Anne’s)

12. Jack O’Connor (St Martin’s)
11. Aidan Nolan (HWH Bunclody)
8. Kevin Foley (Rapparees)

13. Cathal Dunbar (Naomh Éanna)
14. Conor McDonald (Naomh Éanna)
15. Paul Morris (Ferns St Aidan’s)

Subs:
22 Rory O’Connor (St. Martin’s) for Dunbar (45)
21 Lee Chin (Faythe Harriers) for McGovern (45)
20 Diarmuid O’Keeffe (St Anne’s) for Nolan (50)
18 Matthew O’Hanlon (St James’) for Reck (65)
24 Mikey Dwyer (Fethard) for J O’Connor (67)

Kilkenny

16. Darren Brennan (St Lachtains)

2. Conor Browne (James Stephens)
3. Huw Lawlor (O’Loughlin Gaels)
4 Ciarán Wallace (Erin’s Own)

5. Conor Delaney (Erin’s Own)
6. Paddy Deegan (O’Loughlin Gaels)
7. Cillian Buckley (Dicksboro)

8. James Maher (St Lachtains)
9. Michael Carey (Young Ireland’s)

10. John Donnelly (Thomastown)
11. Alan Murphy (Glenmore)
12. Martin Keoghan (Tullaroan)

13. Billy Ryan (Graigue-Ballycallan)
23 Richie Hogan (Danesfort)
15 Walter Walsh (Tullogher Rosbercon, capt.)

Subs:
20 Darren Mullen (Ballyhale Shamrocks) for Carey (53)
25 Bill Sheehan (Dicksboro) for Hogan (58)
18 Michael Cody (Dunnamaggin) for Maher (64).

Referee: Fergal Horgan (Tipperary).

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