Wexford and Galway made it two wins out of two in the Leinster Senior Hurling Championship this weekend.
There’s now a possibility that scoring difference will come into play, with a place in the Leinster final the reward for the top two finishers. The third placed team will also progress to the All-Ireland series, while the bottom team in the group will be relegated to the Joe McDonagh Cup for 2019.
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: Wexford v Galway (2 June); Dublin v Offaly (3 June)
Round 5: Galway v Dublin (9 June); Kilkenny v Wexford (9 June)
Leinster Senior Hurling Championship: Wexford 5-24, Offaly 2-9
By Kevin Egan of gaa.ie
A fixture that was expected to be a tricky hurdle for the Wexford hurlers turned into a landslide this evening at Bord na Móna O’Connor Park, as David Fitzgerald’s men produced one of their most impressive performances in years, completely overwhelming an Offaly team that ended the game with just 12 players on the field as a result of red cards to Seán Gardiner, Oisín Kelly and Ronan Hughes.
However, while the final twenty minutes was something of a procession as Wexford took advantage of their depleted opponents, who by then had lost both Gardiner and Kelly, David Fitzgerald’s side were dominant throughout the tie, wrapping up the victory long before that stage.
Joe Bergin fired over the first point of the game for the home side, but, from the second minute, Wexford were sharp, purposeful and powerful in their hurling, playing with all the vim and vigour of a side that didn’t want a repeat of last week’s shootout against the Dubs.
Conor McDonald showed superb reflexes and instinct to pounce on a loose ball off the post and sweep home the first goal with just three minutes on the clock, and by the time ten more minutes had expired, Wexford had put clear daylight between the sides. Paul Morris, Jack O’Connor and McDonald picked off superb points from tricky angles before a glorious sequence of play saw Simon Donohoe set up Aidan Nolan for the second Wexford goal.
2-5 to 0-2 became 2-10 to 0-5 by the half hour mark, as Wexford continued to break tackles, win frees and move the ball through the lines with intelligence and consideration.
Two penalties in the space of two minutes – both of which saw Sean Gardiner pick up yellow cards – helped Wexford into a 3-12 to 0-6 interval lead. Eoghan Cahill, who had another brilliant game despite being peppered with shots, repelled Aidan Nolan on the first attempt but he could do little to stop Mark Fanning’s top corner bullet with the second.
Lee Chin and Jack O’Connor made it five Wexford goalscorers on the night in the third quarter and while Oisín Kelly produced a wonderful finish to give Offaly fans something to cheer about, he soon joined Gardiner on the bench after getting a straight red card for an incident involved Wexford wing back Paudie Foley.
With Offaly now down to 13, Wexford sent a deluge of shots raining down on the Offaly goal and while Davy Fitzgerald will be concerned by the team’s wide count – they ended the game with 19 – plenty more found the target too. Harry Kehoe came off the bench to chip in with 0-3, with Diarmuid O’Keeffe and Damien Reck also on target from long range. Perhaps the most encouraging sign of the night from a Wexford perspective was the reappearance of Liam Óg McGovern, who recently made his return from a second cruciate ligament injury.
Shane Dooley’s injury time goal was of no consolation to an Offaly side that now faces a huge test to overcome this in time for what is effectively a relegation showdown in Parnell Park next week, but the mood will be very different in Wexford as they prepare for the visit of All Ireland champions Galway to Wexford Park.
Scorers for Wexford: Rory O’Connor 0-7 (0-4f, 0-1 ’65), Lee Chin 1-4 (0-4f), Jack O’Connor 1-3, Aidan Nolan 1-1, Conor McDonald 1-1, Harry Kehoe 0-3 (0-1f), Mark Fanning 1-0 (pen), Paul Morris 0-2, Kevin Foley, Diarmuid O’Keeffe & Damien Reck 0-1 each.
Scorers for Offaly: Shane Dooley 1-5 (0-5f), Oisín Kelly 1-1, Joe Bergin, Kevin Dunne, Tommy Geraghty 0-1 each.
WEXFORD: Mark Fanning; Simon Donohue, Liam Ryan, Damien Reck; Paudie Foley, Matthew O’Hanlon, Diarmuid O’Keeffe; Shaun Murphy, Aidan Nolan; Lee Chin, Kevin Foley, Jack O’Connor; Paul Morris, Rory O’Connor, Conor McDonald. Subs: Conor Firman for Donohoe (46), Liam Óg McGovern for R O’Connor (51), Harry Kehoe for Morris (51), Willie Devereux for Foley (54), David Dunne for Chin (64).
OFFALY: Eoghan Cahill; Paddy Delaney, Sean Gardiner, Ben Conneely; Damien Egan, Pat Camon, David O’Toole Greene; Shane Kinsella, David King; Oisín Kelly, Conor Mahon, Brendan Murphy; Shane Dooley, Joe Bergin, Kevin Dunne. Subs: Tommy Geraghty for Murphy (half time), Colin Egan for Mahon (half time), Dan Currams for Kinsella (42), Paddy Rigney for Conneely (48), Ronan Hughes for Bergin (54).
Referee: James McGrath (Westmeath)
Leinster Senior Hurling Championship
GALWAY 1-22 KILKENNY 2-11
By Cian O’Connell of gaa.ie
Ultimately this match was decided by a flurry of late scores from Galway, who were eventually able to shrug off Kilkenny’s spirited resistance.
Having shown a refusal to wilt Kilkenny, who relied on TJ Reid for scores, only trailed by three with 10 minutes remaining and another Cats comeback mission appeared a distinct possibility.
When it truly mattered, though, Galway had that drop of extra punch and poise up front which was exemplified by the next crucial spell when Micheal Donoghue’s team nailed eight points on the spin.
Joe Canning mined a couple of frees before Conor Cooney hit three glorious efforts in a row from play. Canning and substitutes Jason Flynn and Niall Burke decorated Galway’s performance with further points ensuring Walter Walsh’s last gasp goal was merely a consolation. By then sufficient Galwegian damage had been inflicted.
Galway showed flickers of their class in the opening period departing at the break armed with a 1-9 to 1-4 interval advantage.
Donoghue’s charges had edged eight points clear approaching half-time, but Kilkenny responded with a goal and a point in the closing stages to trim the deficit considerably.
Initially the story had been one of Galway’s failure to be sufficiently clinical in attack, but a good burst which yielded 1-5 without reply ensured the locals assumed a healthy advantage.
Level at 0-4 each following a cagey 20 minutes Galway demonstrated their ability as Cathal Mannion, Brian Concannon, and two Joe Canning frees had them 0-8 to 0-4 clear.
A foul by Paddy Deegan on Conor Whelan resulted in a penalty which was expertly converted by Canning in the 29th minute.
Mannion added a point for Galway, who were eight ahead, but a typically defiant Kilkenny outfit came thundering back.
TJ Reid made the Galway net dance from a penalty following a Daithi Burke foul on the promising Luke Scanlon before Walter Walsh rifled over a point. Suddenly the deficit was five and an interesting second half beckoned.
While the action wasn’t wild, it remained keenly contested with Reid’s precision from frees keeping Kilkenny in the hunt despite the fact that they only hit 1-2 from play.
Worryingly Kilkenny’s other forwards, apart from the ever imposing Walsh were being minded carefully by a Galway defence in which Daithi Burke, Padraic Mannion, and Gearoid McInerney remained relevant throughout.
Still Kilkenny’s grit brought them to within three, but Galway had the class and composure to survive. Next Saturday’s tussle at Innovate Wexford Park between Wexford and Galway should be tasty
Scorers for Galway: Joe Canning 1-12 (1-0 pen, 7fs, 165), Conor Cooney 0-4, Cathal Mannion 0-2, Brian Concannon, David Burke, Niall Burke, and Jason Flynn 0-1 each.
Scorers for Kilkenny: TJ Reid 1-9 (1-0 pen, 8fs, 165), Walter Walsh 1-1, Luke Scanlon 0-1.
GALWAY: James Skehill; Aidan Harte, Daithi Burke, Adrian Touhey; Padraic Mannion, Gearoid McInerney, John Hanbury; David Burke, Johnny Coen; Joseph Cooney, Joe Canning, Cathal Mannion; Conor Whelan, Conor Cooney, Brian Concannon.
Subs: Jonathan Glynn for Concannon (51), Jason Flynn for Joseph Cooney (61), Niall Burke for Cathal Mannion (67), Sean Loftus for Canning (70), Paul Killeen for Padraic Mannion (70).
KILKENNY: Eoin Murphy; Enda Morrissey, Padraig Walsh, Paddy Deegan; Conor Delaney, Cillian Buckley, Paul Murphy; Conor Fogarty, James Maher; Martin Keoghan, TJ Reid, Liam Blanchfield; John Donnelly, Walter Walsh, Luke Scanlon.
Subs: Colin Fennelly for Donnelly (HT), Joey Holden for Morrissey (45), Richie Leahy for Keoghan (55), Bill Sheehan for Blanchfield (58).
REFEREE: Fergal Horgan (Tipperary).