The highly-anticipated Wexford and Kilkenny Leinster Championship match took place in Chadwicks Wexford Park this afternoon….
It was do or die for Wexford. A loss against Kilkenny would have seen them relegated to the Joe McDonagh Cup for the 2024 season.
Unbelievably, Wexford won the game on a score-line of 4-23 to 5-18. It was a really pulsating, high-intensity game, and it was a game that had everything.
Turning it on:
There’s something about Kilkenny. But Wexford definitely have the upper-hand over them in recent years. People joke that Wexford should play Kilkenny every week and they would be doing incredibly well. There’s no doubt that Wexford upped their game again today to face the 1/3 favourites Cats. Despite being down by eight points at one stage of the game, Wexford never gave up and they clawed their way back. The intensity in the tackle, the ability to hit scores, and the desire to win were aspects of their game that noticeably improved. Speaking after the game, Wexford player Dee O’Keeffe said that “preparation was easy, we knew what was at stake”. While Wexford have survived relegation, one must also question where these performances were against Galway, Dublin, and most recently, Westmeath, who they lost to in the previous round. The performance today shows that this time can turn it on when needed; we just need to turn it on more, and keep it on.
The substitutes that came on made a significant impact on today’s game. While Joe O’Connor may feel disgruntled to be taken off at just eighteen minutes gone in the game, Darragh Egan made the correct decision to introduce Conor Foley as his replacement. Foley provided more strength in the defence and held his position well. Likewise, the introduction of Naomh Eanna clubman Cathal Dunbar in the final quarter proved to be the correct call from the line. Dunbar came on and slotted over a crucial side-line to level the game, and then slotted over Wexford’s last point to seal the game. It would be unfair to write a section on Wexford’s super-subs and not mention Conor Hearne. Hearne brought an energy to the Wexford midfield in the closing stages which was well needed. He got on a lot of ball, set up some crucial points, and he maintained Wexford’s high-intensity in the middle when legs were beginning to get tired.
We needed Wexford players to stand up today. We needed them all year, but today, we needed them more than ever. In the cauldrons of Wexford Park, Wexford did not have to look further than their captain Lee Chin. Along with his penalty and his solid free taking (1-10, 0-6 frees, 0-1 ’65), the Faythe Harriers club man was immense from play, bringing the game to Kilkenny when it was needed. It was so clear that he wanted the ball, and although questions were raised about his injury earlier in the season, he looked far from a player that was carrying an injury today.
A lot of ball was driven in from the half-back line to Wexford’s full forward line with Chin and McDonald holding the line and Mogie playing off the breaks; it was a game plan that Martin Storey was calling for, and it definitely paid off. While McDonald only scored one point, which is low by his standards, he held up a lot of ball and it seemed quite dangerous every time the ball went in.
Other players that must be mentioned include Simon Donohoe who had a performance of the ages, coming out with ball after ball from the defence.
Dee O’Keefe was a player that stood up too, along with his St Annes clubmate, Liam óg McGovern, who scored 2-01 from play. And, how can we not mention that Liam Ryan point when he solo’ed half the pitch and raised the white flag? There’s something beautiful about when a full-back runs the pitch and scores a point and that definitely raised the roof.
On the topic of raising the roof for the rousing crowd, we cannot write this article without mentioning the Wexford crowd. It was an incredible atmosphere in a lovely hot summers day in Wexford Park. Over 9,700 people showed up today, and about 8,000 of them were Wexford supporters. Wexford supporters knew the importance of this game; they didn’t lose faith – and they showed up when they were absolutely needed. The Wexford support were no doubt Wexford’s 16th man today. Even though Wexford supporters will not be able to support the Wexford hurlers anymore this season, they should be proud for attending when the easier option would have been to throw in the towel against the hot favourites. Earlier in the week, we called on Wexford supporters to attend in their numbers, because they needed their support now more than ever before, and Wexford hurling supporters weren’t let down; Wexford are staying up and we’ll go again next year.
The managerial question:
After the Dublin and the Westmeath game, there were calls for a change in management. The dismal loss to Westmeath in the previous round sent alarm bells around the county. Some Wexford hurling supporters have suggested that today’s win over Kilkenny only serves to paint over some of the cracks, and that Wexford still need to search for a new manager, despite the Wexford win against Kilkenny. After his Wexford side won today, Darragh Egan has ended the campaign on a relative high note, given that all seemed so gloomy just last week. Egan’s contract is now up, having completed his two-year term at Wexford, but it’ll be interesting to see if the Wexford County Board search for a new manager – or if they’ll stick with Tipperary’s Darragh Egan for another year.
Today’s result means that Wexford survive relegation and that they will be playing in the Leinster Championship next season, while Westmeath have been relegated.
Value our site? Register NOW for as little as €3 per-year…
Enjoy our content? Want to keep reading it? By registering, you will have access to all of Wexford Weekly’s content and you’ll also be supporting a growing independent brand. We thank you for your continued support. It costs less than one cent per day to register on Wexford Weekly. If you value our site, we really appreciate it.
– Access to all content
– Improved, premium features
– Discounts on products
– First to know about future buses
– Discounts on future events
Remember to submit your news to Wexford Weekly! To advertise on our socials or website, email our team at firstname.lastname@example.org