The Wexford u-20 hurlers lost out to Kilkenny in the Leinster hurling final yesterday evening…
Wexford failed to get going in the first-half, but a gutsy second-half surge almost saw them bring the game to extra-time.
Few people gave Wexford a chance heading into the game. The major Irish bookmakers viewed it as a walk in the park for Kilkenny, tipping them as 1/4 favourites to win the game.
Kilkenny found it difficult to shrug off that favouritism though. While Wexford were never ahead in the game, they did afford them the opportunity to claw back into their lead.
Down by three points at the 60-minute mark, Wexford clawed back the lead with points from Cian Byrne and Tomas Kinsella.
And then they almost managed to grab a draw with the last puck of the game.
Inches were the difference between Wexford drawing and losing the game. To the agony of Wexford hurling supporters, a last-gasp shot under pressure from Jack Redmond went the wrong side of the post at Dr Cullen Park.
Kilkenny will now march on into the All-Ireland final where they’ll take on Limerick.
Despite the loss, Wexford will learn several things from the game:
More needed in the attack:
Wexford’s effort and tenaciousness cannot be questioned. Hooks and blocks were happening all over the field. Although the Kilkenny backs were on top of the Wexford forwards, Wexford’s never-say-die attitude has to be commended too. More scores from open-play, along with converting some missed chances, would have sealed the game for Wexford. One would have to wonder if their attack needed an AJ Redmond – who scored 1-11 in the 2019 Leinster Minor hurling final – would have been suited in the forwards, as opposed to the corner-back position. The Wexford team, along with their new managerial set-up with Keith Rossiter and Rory Jacob, will learn a lot from the game.
Wexford’s defence looked solid throughout. Wing-back Joe Barrett performed well in the first-half and he had the better of his man. Captain Kyle Scallan replicated his performance against Dublin with another towering display, leading by example alongside Naomh Eanna’s Cian Molloy in the centre-back position. It’s hard to fault the Wexford defence.
The previously mentioned Rathnure club-man, AJ Redmond, was tight in the corner-back position and he came out with a number of balls. He picked up a yellow-card in the second half as a Kilkenny man was running through, but the cynical foul stopped a clear goal chance too.
Up against an impressive Kilkenny side who showed that they’re well able to pick a score when they played Galway, Wexford’s defence had the better of most of their attack and there are plenty of positives to take from that.
It was mentioned in an article last week, but having an accurate free-taker is beautiful. It’s something that our Wexford Senior hurlers have been missing in recent years, and the post-Paul Codd era of Wexford hurling in particular. Having an accurate free-taker like Cian Byrne on the placed balls gives the players, management, and supporters confidence. His free-taking ability must be commended, as he scored seven points from placed balls. Any opportunity given to Byrne from placed balls looked likely to be going over. Slotting over three from play wasn’t too bad either.
Not too far away:
After Kilkenny’s performance against Galway, very few were giving Wexford a chance in this Leinster final. In this grade though, Wexford and Kilkenny are never too far away and that was the case yesterday evening too. While Kilkenny looked dominant throughout most of the match, the last ten minutes proved to Wexford supporters that they were not too far away whatsoever. Wexford can take confidence from the game.
Teams and scorers:
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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