GAA | Wexford beat Kilkenny in thrilling Leinster final

David Smith
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Wexford have beaten Kilkenny by 1-23 to 0-23 in the Leinster Senior Hurling Championship final.

Mark Fanning’s 63rd minute penalty proved the turning point in a thrilling final which sees Wexford lift the Bob O’Keefe Cup for the first time since 2004.

Kilkenny led by 0-15 to 0-14 after an end-to-end first half at Croker.

TJ Reid notched eight points in the opening 35 minutes, including two from play.

Lee Chin chipped in with five points for Wexford, with one of those coming from play.

Wexford’s Conor McDonald hit the first score of the game in the first minute, but his effort was soon cancelled out by Reid.

A free from Chin and a fine score from Rory O’Connor gave Wexford a   0-3 to 0-1 lead after five minutes.

Walter Walsh and O’Connor then traded scores before Colin Fennelly got his first score for the Cats.

Paul Morris’ fine score for Wexford was cancelled out by a Reid free, meaning the crowd of 51, 842 were treated to nine scores inside the first 10 minutes.

O’Connor’s third point stretched Davy Fitz’ men’s lead to two points, but a brace of frees from Reid made it six points apiece after 15 minutes.

Chin and Maher scored for Wexford and Kilkenny respectively, before a well worked point from Alan Murphy gave the Cats the lead for the first time.

Chin drew Wexford level within a minute and a brilliant score from Simon Donohoe edged the county ahead once more.

Two frees from Reid and Fennelly’s second point made it 0-11 to 0-9 to Cody’s men, with Rory O’Connor soon pulling a point back for Wexford.

Adrian Mullen’s point was cancelled out by another Chin free, before Reid and Chin both converted frees.

Reid sent a 65 over the bar moments before Wexford’s O’Connor opted to take his point rather than go for goal.

Mullen grabbed his second point for Kilkenny in stoppage time before Diarmuid O’Keefe hit back with an excellent score with the last score of the half.

Walter Walsh extended Kilkenny’s lead within 20 seconds of the restart, but Wexford refused to go away.

They restored parity through a Chin free and an O’Keefe point from play.

Wexford ‘keeper Mark Fanning then made a fine save to deny Fennelly a goal.

McDonald’s 43rd minute point gave Wexford the lead for the first time since the 23rd minute.

Chin’s excellent free made it 0-18 to 0-16 to the Yellowbellies, before Kilkenny substitute Ger Aylward reduced the deficit to a single point.

A fine score from Reid drew the Cats level, and goalkeeper Eoin Murphy then sauntered forward to give Cody’s team the lead from a free.

Two monstrous scores from Chin and Jack O’Connor put Wexford back in front, but Mullen leveled things up once again in the 55th minute.

McDonald and Reid then exchanged points, leaving the sides deadlocked on 21 points before a great score from Reid swung the momentum back in Kilkenny’s favour.

The decisive moment cane in the 63rd minute.

Rory O’Connor weaved his way into the box before being felled by Enda Morrissey.

Mark Fanning came forward to take the resulting penalty, and his powerful low strike flew into the bottom corner.

Liam Óg McGovern added a point for Wexford before Reid clawed one back for the Cats.

Chin’s 65 restored Wexford’s three point lead – 1-23 to 0-23 – to maintain his 100% record from dead balls.

Kilkenny pushed for an equalizer in stoppage time, but Wexford held firm to win their first provincial title in 15 years.

Davy Fitzgerald has now won a Leinster title, a Munster title, and an All-Ireland as a manager.