Leinster SHC: Wexford and Kilkenny battle to dramatic draw

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Leinster Senior Hurling Championship Round 5

WEXFORD 0-21 KILKENNY 1-18

by Ronan Fagan at Innovate Wexford Park

Wexford and Kilkenny will meet again in the June 30th Leinster SHC decider after a last-gasp Lee Chin free rescued a priceless draw for Davy Fitzgerald's men in Saturday's fascinating concluding provincial round-robin derby at sunny Innovate Wexford Park.

With news filtering through of Dublin's four-point victory over Galway, it left Wexford facing a possible quick exit after TJ Reid's seventh free had Kilkenny shading matters by 1-18 to 0-20 on 70 minutes.

But Wexford fought to the bitter end, and ultimately Chin proved his mettle two minutes into added-time to force a justified outcome.

This contest was feisty throughout, and a number of flashpoints erupted during the opening stages before wind-assisted Wexford snatched a 0-4 to 0-2 advantage after ten minutes with long-range strikes from the Foleys, Kevin and Pdraig free.

But there was hardly a breath between the sides otherwise, and they drew level for a fifth-time after 22 minutes 0-7 apiece as further Wexford contributions from Diarmuid O'Keeffe 2 and Paudie Foley free were shaded by Adrian Mullen, Paddy Deegan, Walter Walsh, Reid free and Colin Fennelly.

O'Keeffe nudged Wexford in front 0-8 to 0-7 before Rory O'Connor was denied a goal by an heroic goal-line clearance from Huw Lawlor at the expense of a '65. Lee Chin obliged three more times from placed-balls to help Wexford stretch ahead by 0-13 to 0-10 at half-time as three TJ Reid frees kept Kilkenny firmly in the hunt.

In fact, the Cats appeared to be purring when they goaled in the 44th-minute after Colin Fennelly latched onto a Wexford puck-out and supplied Adrian Mullen with the ammunition to blast to the net 1-11 to 0-13.

The Cats couldn't gain a bounce though as Wexford remained resolute, and the sides were tied seven more times 13 times in all - as the O'Connor bothers, Rory and substitute Jack along with Paul Morris all added doubles to match the accuracy of Kilkenny's Paul Murphy, Pdraig Walsh, Adrian Mullen 2, Joey Holden and Colin Fennelly.

Wexford hearts sank when a Chin free crashed back off an upright moments before the purple-and-gold lost Matthew O'Hanlon to a second booking and TJ Reid converted the resultant free to nudge Kilkenny on the brink of victory in the 70th-minute 1-18 to 0-20.

But Wexford refused to yield, and Lee Chin secured a mouth-watering rematch in the upcoming provincial-decider with his monstrous injury-time free from midfield.

Scorers for Wexford: Lee Chin 0-6 5 frees, 1 '65, Diarmuid O'Keeffe 0-4, Conor McDonald, Pdraig Foley 2 frees, Rory O'Connor, Paul Morris, Jack O'Connor 0-2 each, Kevin Foley 0-1.

Scorers for Kilkenny: TJ Reid 0-7 frees, Adrian Mullen 1-3, Colin Fennelly 0-2, Conor Fogarty, Paddy Deegan, Walter Walsh, Paul Murphy, Joey Holden, Pdraig Walsh 0-1 each.

WEXFORD: Mark Fanning; Simon Donohoe, Liam Ryan, Damien Reck; Shaun Murphy, Matthew O'Hanlon, Pdraig Foley; Diarmuid O'Keeffe, Liam g McGovern; Rory O'Connor, Lee Chin, Kevin Foley; Paul Morris, Cathal Dunbar, Conor McDonald. Subs: Jack O'Connor for Dunbar ht; Aidan Nolan for McGovern 54; David Dunne for Morris 64.

KILKENNY: Eoin Murphy, Pdraig Walsh, Huw Lawlor, Joey Holden; Enda Morrissey, Paddy Deegan, Paul Murphy; Cillian Buckley, Conor Fogarty; Richie Leahy, Walter Walsh, TJ Reid; Adrian Mullen, Colin Fennelly, Billy Ryan. Subs: Jason Cleere for Deegan 17; John Donnelly for Reid temp., 23-24; James Maher for Buckley 50; Liam Blanchfield for Ryan 56; John Donnelly for W Walsh 68.

Referee: Fergal Horgan Tipperary.

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