Updated: Sunday, 30 Mar 2014 18:24 | Comments
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Kilkenny turned in a hugely impressive second 35 minutes to gain a comfortable 4-22 to 2-16 victory over Wexford in their Allianz Hurling League quarter-final at Wexford Park.
The home side opened with a Diarmuid O’Keeffe goal inside 30 seconds of the start, but the Kilkenny response was immediate when Walter Walsh goaled in their first real attack.
The reigning champions were continuing to press the home side leading 1-07 to 0-06 when TJ Reid found the net after 21 minutes.
The Cats were looking comfortable at this stage but Wexford managed to lift their game through the point taking of Ian Byrne while the same player raised a green flag five minutes before the break, to leave the minimum separating the sides, 2-10 to 1-12 at the interval.
Typically Kilkenny opened the second half with a flourish, with TJ Reid netting a second goal inside 30 seconds, and when the same player completed his hat-trick from a 21-yard free they had extended into a 4-13 to 1-13 lead, with Wexford gaining a consolation goal through Rory Jacob 11 minutes from the end.
Afterwards Brian Cody was clearly happy with the way the League has been progressing.
‘At the start we set out with two ambitions, to retain the league and give players as much game time as possible. We are achieving both goals as well as possible. We’ve had a sustained run of games, giving each and every player as much game as possible over the weeks.
‘Michael Fennelly came in during the second half for his first game. He has been training hard, going well in training, getting his first tase of action today.
“We set out at the start to see as many players as possible, strengthen our squad, create the competition for places, and this we are happy with at the moment.
‘We are now in a semi-final with Galway which will be another hugely competitive game. We have had successive weeks of action, now we must wait for the semi-final, with the dates looking somewhat peculiar, having so many games on successive weekends and now having to wait.
“But we’ll use the time and the players will apply themselves.”
Wexford boss Liam Dunne admitted that Kilkenny were simply unstoppable in the second half.
‘I was very pleased with the way the first half went, particularly the closing ten minutes when we hauled ourselves back to within a single point. But that early second half goal was a killer blow. Having said that our aim at the start was to consolidate ourselves, get to the quarter-final and take it from there.
‘We achieved that. This is the type of hurling our young side needs. It was a huge learning curve for the players, but now we’ll look back on the league, plan for the championship, and hopefully progress further from there.’
Wexford: M Fanning; K Rossiter, M O’Hanlon, E Moore; D O’Keeffe (0-1), L Chin, C Kenny; S Tomkins, H Kehoe (0-1); P Morris, C McDonald, I Byrne (1-8, 0-6 frees); R Jacob (1-3), J Guiney (0-1), L Og McGovern (0-1).
Subs: A Shore for Tomkins (17); L Ryan for Rossiter (45); P Doran (0-1) for Morris (47); W Devereux O’Keeffe (50); E Martin for Kenny (55)
Kilkenny: E Murphy; P Murphy, J J Delaney, J Holden; C Fogarty, J Tyrrell (0-1), K Joyce; P Walsh, R Hogan (0-1); W Walsh (1-2), C Fennelly, T J Reid (3-10, 1-6 frees, 0-1 ’65’); R Power (0-2), M Kelly (0-2), E Larkin (0-2).
Subs: M Fennelly (0-2) for Murphy (48); B Hogan for Delaney (52); H Shefflin for Larkin (58); T Walsh for Fogarty (62); A Fogarty for W Walsh (64).
Referee: C McAllister (Cork).