Evan Treacy/INPHO Billy Drennan on the ball for Kilkenny.
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0-7 from Drennan fires Kilkenny to narrow victory and Leinster U20 crown
Netwatch Cullen Park hosted the decider between the Cats and Wexford.

Wexford 0-15
Kilkenny 1-13

Brendan Graham reports at Netwatch Cullen Park

SEVEN POINTS FROM Billy Drennan saw Kilkenny sneak over the line with a one-point victory over Wexford in the U20 Leinster Hurling Final.

In wet and difficult conditions, Kilkenny made a strong start as Drennan grabbed the first score of the game after a minute of play. Wexford struggled early on with the slippery conditions with Kilkenny quick to capitalise. Two quick fire scores from Denis Walsh and Timmy Clifford increased Kilkenny’s lead out to three with ten minutes played.

A Cian Byrne free close to goal got the scoreboard for Wexford up and running finally on twelve minutes, an important score for them with Kilkenny controlling the game in the early stages.

As the first half progressed Wexford began to eke out better opportunities close to goal but a combination of excellent defending from Paddy Langton and some poor wides saw their total tally on twenty minutes at just a solitary point.

Kilkenny were having no such problems with a huge score from distance by Andy Hickey followed up immediately by a second for Walsh and a third for Drennan pushing the difference between the sides to six points with twenty minutes played.

With Wexford under immense pressure and struggling to get past the half back line they needed a response and quick. Ten minutes after their first score, Cian Molloy stood up to the task slotting Wexford’s second eleven minutes after their opening point of the game.

Wexford will have been much happier with how they ended the half with three excellent points in-a-row. Cian Byrne’s accuracy in front of the posts was keeping Wexford in the game as two frees just before the break ensured it was just a goal that separated the sides at half time.

Wexford began the second half just as they had ended the first with a real zip and pace to their hurling. After some excellent build up in midfield Jack Redmond found space out on the left before firing over his first point of the game and narrow the game to two.

Kilkenny’s response was excellent. Another Drennan free and Kilkenny’s first score in twenty minutes followed up by a sublime point from distance by the hugely impressive Denis Walsh put five between the sides once more. Badly needed scores for Kilkenny to get themselves up and running once more.

In blistering fashion Kilkenny were five clear again with second half substitute firing to the back of the net with his first touch of the game. Denis Walsh was the architect once again. The midfielder went on a blistering solo run through the middle before smartly finding Doyle in space to his left.

Doyle took his chance with aplomb and fired to the net to put six between the sides as we entered the final twenty. Wexford answered the goal with the next three points of the game, Cian Byrne with all three from frees keeping his side in the game with his accuracy across the pitch.

Wexford’s confidence was high heading into the last twelve minutes of the game. Richie Lawlor, Joe Redmond and Cian Byrne all pointed to get their side back to within two.

As close as Wexford could get, Billy Drennan was steering his side through the game and put a stop to Wexford’s gallop with two quick frees to keep them at bay with five minutes remaining. Cian Byrne was doing for Wexford what Drennan was doing for Kilkenny and after his free brought the sides back to within three points he had a huge chance close to goal to level the sides.

His rasper of a shot rose just over the bar at the last second. Another point for Byrne but not what they needed so late in the game. Injury time points from Byrne once more and Kinsella ensured a grandstand finish. With the last puck of the game Jack Redmond shot agonizingly wide.

Kilkenny held out by the narrowest of margins to be crowned Leinster U20 Champions for 2022.

Wexford: Cian Byrne; Eoin Ryan, Conor Foley, AJ Redmond; Joe Barrett, Cian Molloy (0-1), Kyle Scallan; Darragh Carley, Luke Kavanagh; Richie Lawlor (0-1), Corey Byrne Dunbar, Shamey O’Hagan; Cian Browne, Jack Redmond (0-2), Cian Byrne (0-10, 7f)

Subs: David Codd for Corey Byrne Dunbar (44), Tomas Kinsella (0-1) for Shamey O’Hagan (47), JJ Twamley for Darragh Carley (52), Josh Shiel for Cian Browne (57), Liam Cassin on for Luke Kavanagh (59)

Kilkenny: Aidan Tallis; Niall Rowe, Sean Purcell, Padraig Lennon; Joe Fitzpatrick, Padraic Moylan, Paddy Langton (0-1); Killian Doyle, Denis Walsh (0-3); Andy Hickey (0-1), Timmy Clifford (0-1), Peter McDonald; Billy Drennan (0-7 7f), Gearoid Dunne, Ted Dunne

Subs: Ian Byrne for Ted Dunne (31), Jack Doyle (1-0) for Peter McDonald (31), James Walsh for Gearoid Dunne (42), Eoin O’Brien for Andy Hickey (56), Billy Reid for Joe Fitzpatrick (59)

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