Kilkenny continued their impressive start to the Allianz National Hurling League with a five point victory over near neighbours, Wexford, at Nowlan Park on Sunday afternoon.
Although the visitors battled with local pride at stake, they were never going to seriously threaten Brian Cody’s side, and in truth, the cats had this game won before halftime. Richie Hogan opened the scoring for the home side and when TJ Reid balsted to the net after nine minutes, the writing was on the wall for Wexford.
David Redmond then had a point to get the visitors off the board, however, by that stage Colin Fennelly and Hogan had added further scores to leave the cats well in control. Jim Berry scored two from frees to keep Wexford hanging in there, but Hogan and Fennelly added further points before the break and Kilkenny led by 1-08 to 0-5 after half an hour.
Luck turned against Wexford soon when goalkeeper Noel Carton pulled on a loose ball, but the sliotar hit Colin Fennelly and rebounded into the net. A further point from each side saw the cats lead 2-09 to 0-6 at the interval. James ‘Cha’ Fitzpatrick had the opening point of the second period to increase his side’s lead to ten points, but this lead seemed to affect Kilkenny as they took their foot off the gas and allowed Wexford back into the game.
Jim Berry and Stephen Banville led the way as the visitors ate into the Kilkenny lead, taking some excellent scores in the process. Indeed, but for a fine save by PJ Ryan from a Banville effort, the gap may well have been reduced even further. With just five minutes left on the clock Wexford had halved the deficit to five points but they could make no further inroads in the remaining minutes.
The victory left Kilkenny top of the table and remaining on course for a place in the league final, even at this early stage of the season. For Wexford, it was a credible display and certainly restored some of the pride that had been absent from their side in recent months.
Kilkenny: PJ Ryan; PJ Delaney, N Hickey, J Tyrrell; T Walsh, J Dalton, P Murphy; M. Rice, M. Fennelly; C Fennelly (1-3), TJ Reid (1-3, two frees), E Larkin; J Fitzpatrick (0-2), E Brennan (0-2), R Hogan (0-6, five frees).Subs: P Hartley for Rice (inj 26 mins), E Guinan for Hogan (54 mins).
Wexford: N Carton; P Roche, M O’Hanlon, C Kenny; L Prendergast, D Stamp, C Farrell; M Jacob (0-1), D Redmond (0-1), T Waters, H Kehoe, S Banville (0-3); E Martin, G Sinnott, J Berry (0-9, six frees). Subs: E Quigley (0-1) for Farrell (ht), PJ Nolan (0-2) for Waters (45 mins), B Doyle for Martin (54 mins), B Hobbs for Redmond (67 mins).
Referee: T Carroll (Offaly).