Kilkenny came storming back from nine points down to defeat Wexford at Nowlan Park and join Galway in the Leinster Senior Hurling Championship final at Croke Park on Sunday, 1st July.
With TJ Reid inspiring his side with another man-of-the-match performance, Kilkenny made it three wins from four outings in dramatic fashion.
Brian Cody’s never-say-die attitude was reflected in his team’s second half showing, when they turned a 1-11 to 0-7 half time deficit into a 0-22 to 1-18 victory.
Meanwhile, Galway maintained their 100% record with a point defeat of Dublin at Pearse Stadium on Saturday evening, 9th June. The reigning champions were already guaranteed to progress before the final round, while Dublin were only playing for pride and had to settle for a third narrow defeat under Pat Gilroy.
Leinster Senior Hurling Championship Round-Robin
Round 1: Galway 5-18, Offaly 2-15; Kilkenny 1-24, Dublin 3-16
Round 2: Kilkenny 2-19, Offaly 1-13; Wexford 0-22, Dublin 2-14
Round 3: Wexford 5-24, Offaly 2-9; Galway 1-22, Kilkenny 2-11
Round 4: Galway 1-23 Wexford 0-17; Dublin 2-24 Offaly 0-13
Round 5: Galway 0-26 Dublin 2-19; Kilkenny 0-22 Wexford 1-18
Kilkenny 0-22, Wexford 1-18
Kilkenny trailed by nine points early in the second half but came storming back to defeat Wexford at Nowlan Park and earn a place in the Leinster final on 1st July.
When Wexford stretched their 1-11 to 0-7 interval lead with two quick-fire points after the resumption, a repeat of the 2017 final looked on the cards.
But never write off Kilkenny!
Man-of-the-match TJ Reid led the comeback with three points and Padraig Walsh then contributed a magnificent point as the home supporters got behind their side.
Eventually, Richie Leahy brought Kilkenny level before Wexford dug deep again, with a draw all that Davy Fitzgerald’s side needed to progress to the final because of their superior scoring difference.
However, late scores from Conor Fogarty and John Donnelly ensured another famous win for ‘The Cats’.
This had looked unlikely as Wexford gradually got the upper hand in the opening half, with Paul Morris’s goal putting them in control and Kilkenny hitting some uncharacteristic wides before finding their true form after the break.
Scorers for Kilkenny: TJ Reid 0-11 (9f, 1 ’65), Richie Leahy 0-2, John Donnelly 0-2, Conor Fogarty 0-2, Enda Morrissey 0-1, Padraig Walsh 0-1, James Maher 0-1, Joey Holden 0-1, Eoin Murphy 0-1 (f).
Scorers for Wexford: Rory O’Connor 0-5 (2f), Paudie Foley 0-5 (4f), Paul Morris 1-1, Lee Chin 0-3, Conor McDonald 0-2, Diarmuid O’Keeffe 0-1, Kevin Foley 0-1.
KILKENNY: Eoin Murphy; Enda Morrissey, Padraig Walsh, Paddy Deegan; Conor O’Shea, Cillian Buckley, Paul Murphy; Conor Fogarty, James Maher; Martin Keoghan, TJ Reid, Colin Fennelly; Richie Hogan, Walter Walsh, Luke Scanlon. Subs: Richie Leahy for Richie Hogan, Joey Holden for Conor O’Shea, Martin Keoghan for Colin Fennelly (all half-time), Liam Blanchfield for Bill Sheehan (47), John Donnelly for Luke Scanlon (64).
WEXFORD: Mark Fanning; Damien Reck, Liam Ryan, Conor Firman; Paudie Foley, Matthew O’Hanlon, Diarmuid O’Keeffe; Kevin Foley, Shaun Murphy; Lee Chin, Aidan Nolan, David Dunne; Paul Morris, Rory O’Connor, Conor McDonald. Subs: Harry Kehoe for Kevin Foley (53), Jack O’Connor for David Dunne (54), Simon Donohoe for Diarmuid O’Keeffe (60), Shane Tomkins for Paul Morris (70).
Ref: James McGrath (Westmeath)
Galway 0-26, Dublin 2-19
With Galway already through to the final and Dublin out of contention, credit was due to both teams for providing an enjoyable spectacle for almost 10,000 supporters at Pearse Stadium.
Dublin almost snatched a draw with two second half goals from Paul Winters, while goalkeeper Alan Nolan kept his third clean sheet in four outings.
The visitors actually led for a brief period in the second half, but Galway remained composed and a Jason Flynn free – his ninth of the evening – eventually ensured they go into the Leinster final with a 100% record from the round-robin.
Galway led by 0-16 to 0-9 at half time after dominating the second quarter. But two goals in quick succession from Paul Winters in the 39th and 40th minutes brought the contest to life and there was nothing between the teams from then on.
Scorers for Galway: Jason Flynn 0-11 (9fs), Conor Whelan, Padraic Mannion, and Joseph Cooney 0-3 each, David Burke and Conor Cooney 0-2 each, Cathal Mannion and Sean Loftus 0-1 each
Scorers for Dublin: Paul Winters 2-1, Rian McBride (1 sideline) and David Treacy (3fs) 0-4 each, Paul Ryan 0-3 (3fs), Alan Nolan 0-2 (2fs), Cian Boland, James Madden, Sean Moran, and Jake Malone 0-1 each.
GALWAY: James Skehill; Paul Killeen, Daithi Burke, Aidan Harte; Padraic Mannion, Gearoid McInerney, John Hanbury; Sean Loftus, David Burke; Joseph Cooney, Niall Burke, Cathal Mannion; Conor Whelan, Conor Cooney, Jason Flynn.
Subs: Eanna Burke for Loftus (44), Shane Cooney for Killeen (50), Davy Glennon for Conor Cooney (68), Padraig Brehony for Joseph Cooney (70+3).
DUBLIN: Alan Nolan; Paddy Smyth, Cian O’Callaghan, Eoghan O’Donnell; Shane Barrett, Sean Moran, Chris Crummey; Rian McBride, Tomas Connolly; Jake Malone, Fiontan McGibb, Cian Boland; David Treacy, Danny Sutcliffe, Paul Ryan.
Subs: Eamon Dillon for Paul Ryan (HT), Paul Winters for Connolly (HT), Cian McBride for Boland (48), James Madden for McGibb (66), John McCaffrey for McBride (70+3).
REFEREE: Diarmuid Kirwan (Cork).