Kilkenny cruised to a third consecutive victory in Division 1 Group B of the Allianz National Hurling League on Sunday afternoon at UPMC Nowlan Park as they defeated Davy Fitzgerald’s Wexford six days after the initial fixture was scheduled to take place.
The home side began the rearranged fixture with far more purpose and intent than their opponent’s, who looked laboured and tired throughout the encounter. Billy Ryan got the first point of the game as he split the posts seconds after referee Colm Lyons had thrown the ball in. Wexford responded well with points from star forwards Lee Chin and Rory O’Connor. That was the first and only occasion that the Yellowbellies would lead at the home of their biggest rivals.
The returning TJ Reid scored two frees to push Kilkenny into the lead and those scores were followed by a well taken goal by the impressive Billy Ryan to push them 1-03 – 0-02 ahead after four minutes. Aidan Nolan latched on a point for Davy Fitzgerald’s men, but Kilkenny flexed their muscles as the first half proceeded.
Points from Alan Murphy and TJ Reid were cancelled out by two scores from Rory O’Connor who continued his fine individual form in 2021 despite Wexford’s ineptness. Reid knocked on four points (2 ’65s, 2 frees) without reply for Brian Cody’s men. Alan Murphy and Graigue Ballycallan sharpshooter Billy Ryan added to their tallies as the scoreboard read 1-11 – 0-05 after twenty-five minutes.
Lee Chin reduced the lead with another point, but the game was all but over as a contest soon after. TJ Reid finished a goal made in Ballyhale as captain Adrian Mullen found substitute Eoin Cody who expertly slipped in 2015 Hurler of the Year Reid who made no mistake with the finish to the back of the net. Kilkenny had moved eleven ahead, 2-11 – 0-06.
The ever-consistent Reid took advantage of Wexford ill-discipline as he scored another two frees. Alan Murphy scored a point from play and Reid dispatched of yet another free to end the half with 1-10 and in the process moving Kilkenny into a 2-15 – 0-07 lead at half time.
Lee Chin led the feeble Wexford charge early in the second half with two frees but Reid responded with two point from placed balls. Wexford corner back Joe O’Connor’s long-range point and a Chin free was sandwiched between a Ryan point leaving the score at 2-18 – 0-11.
Ryan, who put in one of his brightest performances in a Kilkenny jersey, increased his personal scoring tally to 1-04 with another point for the home side. Chin and Rory O’Connor seemed to be the only forwards willing to take the game to the Leinster champions as they added three unanswered points for the Yellowbellies. Reid struck a free from distance to leave the game at 2-20 – 0-14 with twenty minutes remaining.
Midfielder Diarmuid O’Keeffe replied for Wexford who had left themselves with far too much to do in the second half. Chin’s free-taking allowed them to remain within a respectable distance of a far superior Kilkenny side as Colm Lyons signalled for the second half water break with ten between the teams, 2-20 – 0-16.
The imperious Reid struck another free that was immediately cancelled out by Lee Chin who was unnerving from placed balls throughout the contest. The second period was unsurprisingly flat considering the gap at half time as both teams were happy to go through the motions.
Ballyhale Shamrocks stars Eoin Cody and TJ Reid both added two from play to move Kilkenny into a twelve-point lead, 2-23 – 0-17. Chin and Reid exchanged scores from play as Wexford quite simply could not reduce the deficit that had been built up in the first half. Long distance points from Paddy Deegan and Shaun Murphy saw neither side reduce the deficit nor extend the lead with five minutes left on the clock, 2-25 – 0-19.
Substitute Conor McDonald complimented another Chin free with his first point of the game as Wexford finished strongly. Reid and Chin added frees before Reid got a superb point from play, as he ended the game with an incredible 1-18 (1-03 from play).
Aidan Nolan got his long-awaited second point of the game deep into additional time. It was nothing more than a consolation score, however, as a game that was a non-contest for large spells finally came to an end.
Kilkenny march on. Wexford are left with much to ponder.
Listen back to the match commentary on Big Game Live, right here.