Wexford 0-18 Kilkenny 1-17
Kilkenny are the winners of the inaugural Bord Gáis Energy U20 Leinster title after a five-point win over Wexford this evening.
Sharpshooter Adrian Mullen was ruled out prior to the game with a grade 1 quad tear suffered in Sunday’s senior quarter-final win over Cork, but once his team took the lead in the 10th minute, they never looked back as Wexford failed to follow the success of their seniors and minors a fortnight ago.
There was no shortage of heavy hits, skill, and whole-hearted attempts in the early stages of this game but it wasn’t until the sixth minute that the first point was scored, a free from Ross Banville. Prior to that, Wexford had the Kilkenny defence under severe pressure with Sean Keane Carroll hitting the post after a searing run into the square.
Banville soon doubled their lead through another free but that score was quickly cancelled out when James Brennan got Kilkenny off the mark. There were further chances of goals on both ends when Kilkenny goalkeeper Dean Mason failed to deal with a high ball into the square, however, it was cleared off the line and sent back down the field where Sean Ryan found himself one-on-one with James Lawlow but sent his effort wide.
Kilkenny took the lead midway through the first half when Niall Brassil pointed his first free of the game and that gap was widened moments later when a half-block from Lawlor was rebounded to the back of the net by captain Evan Shefflin.
GOAL! Finished by Evan Shefflin for Kilkenny! pic.twitter.com/OpUrC0pcJb
— The GAA (@officialgaa) July 17, 2019
Wexford responded positively to the goal with points from Charlie McGuckin and Jack Reck but as the rain came and visibility worsened, the wide count began creeping up for both sides. The home side kept applying pressure however and a brace of points from Sean O’Connor in quick succession ensured they narrowed the gap to two at the break.
Kilkenny made a blistering start after the break with points from Stephen Donnelly and Niall Brassil, who had finished the first-half strongly with three placed balls. Wexford managed to level the game through Ross Banville’s frees but Kilkenny soon fought their way back into the lead with a superb point from wing-back, David Blanchfield.
Wexford had opportunities to claw their way back into contention but against the breeze, they sent three efforts in a row wide before Banville settled them back down with a pointed free. Conor Scallan and Brassil swapped points to leave the goal between the sides once more before Blanchfield hit another wonderful point after a powerful run from the half-back line.
As the game ticked on, the hits came fast and heavy and Kilkenny found themselves with four second-half yellows. Wexford, however, were unable to punish them for their ill-discipline on the scoreboard. With the finish line in sight, Kilkenny moved up the gears and a nice move by Eoin Cody was finished over the bar by Michael Carey to widen the gap to five points.
Substitute Cian Fitzhenry brought the game back to three points and Wexford desperately went in search of the equalising goal. Niall Murphy and Chris Turner sent opportunities agonisingly wide. One final opportunity was magnificently saved by Conor Flynn with Turner’s point sailing over the bar in the final score of the game.
Wexford: James Lawlor; Cathal O’Connor, Eoin Molloy, Eoin O’Leary; Niall Murphy, Mike Kelly, Conor Scallan (0-1); Charlie McGuckin (0-2), Eoin Murphy; Sean Keane Carroll, Ross Banville (0-7, 7f), Jack Reck (0-1); Sean O’Connor (0-3), Connall Clancy, Diarmuid Doyle.
Cian Fitzhenry (0-2) Chris Turner (0-2)
Kilkenny: Dean Mason; James Brennan (0-1), Conor Flynn, Mikey Butler; Conor Heary, Michael Carey (0-1), David Blanchfield (0-1); Eoin O’Shea (0-2), Evan Shefflin (1-2); James Bergin, Niall Brassil (0-6, 3f, 1 65), Aaron Brennan; Stephen Donnelly (0-1), Sean Ryan (0-1), Eoin Cody (0-2).