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Wexford finish strongly
May 23rd, 2022
Wexford 1-22 Kilkenny 1-18
By Paul Keane at UPMC Nowlan Park
A superb Wexford performance, led again by inspirational captain Lee Chin, yielded a landmark Leinster SHC victory to keep the Slaneysiders firmly in the hunt for the Liam MacCarthy Cup.
Darragh Egans side came to UPMC Nowlan Park knowing they simply had to win and duly delivered their best display of the provincial campaign to date to secure third spot in the table and a place in the All-Ireland preliminary quarter-finals.
Chin was terrific and helped himself to nine points, the last of which arrived during a late Wexford blitzkrieg as the visitors outscored the back to back Leinster champions 0-6 to 0-2 in the closing minutes.
The scores were tied at 1-16 apiece with eight minutes remaining but those six late Wexford points, scored by Liam Ryan, Connal Flood, Chin, Mikie Dwyer, Simon Donohoe and Cathal Dunbar, secured a four-point win.
Wexfords thrilling performance in those final few minutes gives them vital momentum while Kilkenny, who are still through to the Leinster final courtesy of finishing second in the table on scoring difference, must lift things now for a June 4 date with Galway at Croke Park.
Wexford, who had a dozen scorers on the evening, were clearly keen to make a big statement after their shock Round 4 draw with underdogs Westmeath.
Their ferocity and appetite for destruction was evident from the opening seconds when Jack OConnor split the posts from long range. Conor McDonald followed his lead and suddenly Wexford were two points clear.
Kilkennys initial responsewas impressive as they reeled off 1-4 without response between the fourth and 10th minutes to take apparent control of the game in front of 13,565.
Martin Keoghan fired the Kilkenny goal in the eighth minute after referee Fergal Horgan sensibly played advantage following Matthew OHanlons foul on Cian Kenny, clearing Kenny to feed TJ Reid who, in turn, played in Keoghan.
In-form full-forward Keoghan, fresh from his 2-1 haul against Dublin, added a point shortly after and Kilkenny were up and running with a 1-4 to 0-2 advantage.
From there, things surprisingly went downhill at a rapid rate for the hosts who only scored once more from play before half-time, an Adrian Mullen 15th minute point.
With their season on the line, Wexford moved up a gear and came roaring into the contest, outscoring the Cats by 1-9 to 0-4 between the 10th minute and half-time and reeling off five points in a row at one stage.
Chin hammered over three frees, Simon Donohoe boomed another beauty from distance and there were points too from Rory OConnor and Diarmuid OKeeffe.
The scores were tied at 1-7 to 0-10 when Oisin Foley swooped for Wexfords 34th minute goal.
It was a cracker too and came straight from a Mark Fanning puck-out as Foley seized possession on the left and raced clear before flashing a shot beyond Eoin Murphy.
Kilkenny keeper Murphy did brilliantly in first-half stoppage time to somehow block a drive from McDonald though Wexford still led 1-11 to 1-8 at the break.
Wexford had vital momentum too though Kilkenny wrestled it back with a morale boosting score after the restart.