Kilkenny hold off fast-finishing Wexford to seal Leinster under-20 crown

Seven points ahead after 36 minutes the Cats got over the line by a single point

Kilkenny 1-13 Wexford 0-15

A 36th-minute goal from sub Jack Doyle proved decisive as Kilkenny held off a late Wexford surge to emerge with a single-point victory in this Leinster under-20 hurling championship final at Netwatch Cullen Park in Carlow on Monday night.

Kilkenny looked comfortable when they surged into a 1-9 to 0-5 lead after 36 minutes, but Wexford, with Cian Byrne showing immense accuracy from frees, gradually reduced the deficit. And with the last play of the game, five minutes into additional time, full forward Jack Redmond was inches wide with a point attempt that would have brought extra-time.

A strong defensive performance boosted Kilkenny through the opening 20 minutes of this game, while at the opposite end their attack was showing more accuracy, with Billy Drennan from frees along with midfielder Denis Walsh leading the way with some fine scores.


It was an error-ridden opening 30 minutes with the players finding difficulty to cope with the greasy conditions, but it was Kilkenny who seemed more composed during the early stages as Wexford struggled to settle into the game.

Not surprisingly it was Drennan who got Kilkenny's opening score when he pointed a 50-metre free, but despite their outfield dominance through the fine play of their half backs Joe Fitzpatrick and Pádraic Moylan they still had to wait until the fifth minute for their second score, a fine Denis Walsh point out of midfield.

Wexford were struggling even to get inside Kilkenny territory and were unable to get a foothold in the game as Timmy Clifford extended his sides lead, while Drennan added a pointed free to leave them with a 0-4 to 0-0 lead after nine minutes.

However, Wexford were gradually playing their way into the game, resulting in their opening score a 12th-minute Cian Byrne pointed free. The Kilkenny response was swift with three unanswered points through Andy Hickey, a Drennan free, and Denis Walsh another fine long-range effort, leaving them with a 0-7 to 0-1 lead after 20 minutes.

With Wexford struggling for scores it was no surprise when they had to wait until the 22nd minute for their opening score from a play through centre back Cian Molloy. But a fine finish to the half saw Cian Byrne point two frees, to leave just three points separating the sides at the interval, 0-7 to 0-4.

On the resumption, Jack Redmond and Drennan, with a free, exchanged points, with Denis Walsh extending his side's lead with a fine point out of midfield. After Doyle's impact with a well-finished goal, Wexford responded with six unanswered points through Byrne, four frees, Redmond and Richie Lawlor to leave just two points separating the sides, 1-10 to 0-11, with 10 minutes remaining.

With the game now showing more intensity it was Drennan, with three pointed frees, that kept his side in front. Points by Byrne, two frees, and Tomás Redmond left the minimum separating the sides, with Redmond just failing to bring the game to extra-time, leaving Kilkenny to go forward to an All-Ireland final meeting with Limerick.

KILKENNY: A Tallis; N Rowe, S Purcell, P Lennon; J Fitzpatrick, P Moylan, P Langton; K Doyle, D Walsh (0-3); A Hickey (0-1), T Clifford (0-1), P McDonald; B Drennan (0-8, eight frees), G Dunne, T Dunne.

Subs: J Doyle (1-0) for T Dunne, I Byrne for McDonald (both h/t), J Walsh for G Dunne (41 mins), I Byrne for Walsh (54), E O'Brien for Hickey (55).

WEXFORD: C Byrne; E Ryan, C Foley, A J Redmond; J Barrett, C Molloy (0-1), K Scallan; D Carley, L Kavanagh; R Lawlor (0-1), C Byrne-Dunbar, S O'Hagan; C Browne, J Redmond (0-2), C Byrne (0-10, nine frees).

Subs: D Codd for Byrne-Dunbar,T Kinsella (0-1) for O'Hagan (inj, both 43 mins), JJ Twamley for Carley (51), J Shiel for Browne (56), L Cassin for Kavanagh (56).

Referee: C Money (Dublin).