Wexford and Galway win through to Leinster U21 hurling final
Séamus Casey’s accuracy helps see off Dublin; Galway beat DJ Carey’s Kilkenny side
Dublin’s Fergal Whitley in action against Garry Molloy of Wexford during the Bord Gáis Energy Leinster Under-21 Hurling Championship Semi-Final at Parnell Park. Photograph: Oisín Keniry/Inpho
Wexford 3-15 Dublin 3-12
Wexford advanced to the final of the Leinster under-21 hurling decider after getting the better of Dublin by three points at Parnell Park.
With a strong wind at their backs, the visitors started on the front foot and after shooting three poor wides, they eventually opened their account through a fine score from deep by Joe O’Connor in the sixth minute.
Despite doubling their lead a minute later through wing back Aaron Maddock, Wexford were struggling to make an impression in their half-forward line as Conor Burke and Eoghan Conroy enjoyed influential quarters.
The hosts continued to show a greater degree of cohesion, which was hardly surprising given the three championship matches already played, and they opened up a two-point lead by the 12th minute thanks to a Currie brace.
A Stephen O’Gorman point briefly raised Wexford hopes but they suffered a massive blow in the 14th minute as Currie sneaked a shot into the corner of James Henebery’s net after Ciaran Dowling’s attempt had dropped short.
Na Fianna clubmates, Currie and Burke, continued to trouble the Wexford defence, sharing three points as the half developed as the game appeared to be running away from their opponents.
However, a trio of frees from Séamus Casey offered the visitors renewed hope while Cian O’Sullivan’s late point pushed Dublin 1-8 to 0-8 clear by the interval.
The visitors could not have asked for a more positive resumption as the influential O’Connor raced through a disorganised home defence with just 15 seconds on the clock to rattle an emphatic finish beyond Dara Perry from 10 yards.
A brace of Currie frees inched Dublin in front but Casey was the picture of consistency from placed balls and the Model County were buoyed ever further as substitute Mike Dwyer followed up well to drill low past the helpless Perry.
A second Currie goal offered renewed hope to Dublin in the 55th minute but Dwyer’s second goal effectively settled the issue in injury time as Dublin scored a late consolation goal through substitute Eoghan Dunne.
DUBLIN: D Perry; S Howard, P Smyth, D Ryan; D Gray (0-1, 65), C Burke, E Conroy (0-1); F Whitely, C Ryan; C Dowling, P Crummey, R Hayes; C O’Sullivan (0-1), D Burke (0-3), C Currie (2-6, four frees).
Subs: C Costello for O’Sullivan (37 mins), L Gannon for Dowling (47), C Hendricken for Howard (52), S Currie for Whitely (54), E Dunne (1-0) for Hayes (57).
WEXFORD: J Henebery; S Barden, D Byrne, S Reck; A Maddock (0-1), D Reck, I Carthy; C Firman, R White; R O’Connor, O Foley, L Stafford; S O’Gorman (0-1), J O’Connor (1-4), S Casey (0-8, six frees, one 65).
Subs: G Molloy for Firman (22 mins), R Higgins (0-1) for Barden (29), M Dwyer (2-0) for Foley (43), E Kelly for Stafford (62).
Referee: David Hughes (Carlow)
Galway 3-13 Kilkenny 1-17
Galway’s superior finishing from close range was the decisive factor in Tullamore as the Tribesmen took all three of their goal chances against Kilkenny and so had enough of a lead built up to withstand a late surge from DJ Carey’s side and book a spot in the Leinster under-21 hurling final.
Kilkenny had at least four goalscoring opportunities of their own, but the brilliance of Galway goalkeeper Éanna Murphy and the width of a goalpost meant that only John Donnelly’s late ground pull found the net, and even that was too late to salvage their chances of avenging their defeat to the same opponents at minor level three years ago.
Galway led by the odd point in three after 14 minutes, though the sides shared 11 wides between them up to that point. The shooting was a little better from then on, with James Bergin and Conor Hennessy shooting well for the Cats, while Evan Niland, who scored the game’s first goal in the 19th minute, leading the way for the Tribesmen.
With a strong wind to come, Kilkenny looked well poised at half-time, trailing by just two points – 1-8 to 0-9. However, the game turned immediately after the break when Kevin Cooney pointed and then Brian Concannon set up Seán Bleahane for a second Galway goal.
By the midway point in the half, that lead was out to nine after Cianán Fahy delivered a superb finish from 15 metres out, leading Carey to push his team forward and chase a miracle comeback.
Donnelly and Richie Leahy picked off some excellent points but the goal they needed never came, with Donnelly particularly unlucky to see a superb attempt from just outside the 13 metre line rebound to safety off the upright. The big Thomastown player swept in a late consolation goal, but by then Galway’s place in the provincial decider alongside Wexford was secured.
GALWAY: E Murphy; I O’Shea, J Fitzpatrick, S Bannon; F Burke, M Hughes, J Grealish; S Loftus, T Monaghan; S Blehane (1-0), K Cooney (0-4), C Fahy (1-2); J Canning, B Concannon (0-1), E Niland (1-6, 0-3 frees).
Subs: C Salmon for Canning (HT), C Caulfield for Grealish (53 mins), P Foley for Bleahane (60 mins), R Murphy for Niland (60+4 mins), A Greaney for Burke (60+5 mins)
KILKENNY: L Dunphy; R Bergin, T Walsh, M Cody; T Kenny, M Keoghan, S Murphy; E Delaney, R Leahy (0-3); A Mullen (0-2), J Donnelly (1-2), C Prendiville (0-1); B Sheehan, C Hennessy (0-2), J Bergin (0-7, five frees, one 65).
Subs: M Carey for R Bergin (h/t), M Kenny for Delaney (49 mins), S Carey for J Bergin (54 mins).
Referee: Alfie Devine (Westmeath).