Purple squad loses big lead
Kilkenny Black 2-16 Wexford Purple 3-12
Saturday didn't start as it finished in terms of Wexford versus Kilkenny clashes, as the Under-17 hurling Purple team lost the Bank of Ireland Celtic Challenge Division 1 quarter-final to the old enemy after the proverbial game of two halves at the W.I.T. complex in Carriganore.
The Slaneyside youngsters couldn't be faulted for the quality of their first-half performance, availing fully of wind advantage to surge 3-7 to 1-4 clear.
And this was all the more noteworthy given that they had arrived at the venue one hour ahead of schedule after a breakdown in communications over the throw-in time.
The fact that the game was staged at 12 noon rather than 11 a.m. as Wexford thought discommoded many people, but the team didn't seem to be unduly affected.
They scored all bar one point of that first-half tally from play, and the only down side was that seven wides were also struck at a stage when Kilkenny Black were under the cosh.
Seán O'Connor grabbed the sole score before the break from a placed ball before Rees Broaders added a brace of points, and lively corner-forward Cathal Doyle then pounced for the opening Wexford goal around the ten-minute mark.
Seán Delaney, Micheál Gahan and Doyle again contributed to the scoring before Conall Clancy enjoyed a dream finish to the half, picking off two well-taken goals plus a point for good measure to leave Wexford leading by that nine-point margin.
However, while the teamwork and catching ability was admirable in the first period, Kilkenny set about eating into that deficit after establishing a strong platform in their half-back line.
It was late in the third quarter before Seán O'Connor knocked over his second pointed free to add to Wexford's tally, but the comeback from the opposition was under way with a vengeance at that stage.
Conall Clancy added a point while Cathal Doyle hit three from play in the latter stages, but the real hammer blow to Wexford came midway through the last quarter when Kilkenny registered their second goal.
That strike gave them serious momentum at a critical time, whereas the Purple crew did fashion one good chance to hit back but it ultimately came to nothing.
The outcome means that this side's involvement in the competition ends, with all eyes now on their Gold counterparts who are in contention for Division 4 honours after recording their first win of the campaign against Laois in Fenagh on Saturday.
The Purple squad didn't have the services of Kevin O'Donohoe, Diarmuid Kehoe, Conor Nolan and David Pettit for this defeat, but they still appeared to be well placed with that three-goal interval advantage.
Sadly, it wasn't the first time for Kilkenny to pull it out of the bag when all seemed lost, although thankfully that situation wasn't repeated in Innovate Wexford Park seven hours later.
Wexford Purple: Seán Cooper (Davidstown-Courtnacuddy); Patrick O'Hagan (Ferns St. Aidan's), Tommy Ryan (Gusserane), Cillian Gahan (Faythe Harriers); Eoin Doyle (Craanford), Conall O Crualaoich (Faythe Harriers), Micheál Gahan (Monageer-Boolavogue, 0-1); Micheál O'Connor (Rathnure), Ben Stafford (St. Martin's); Liam Coleman (Liam Mellows), Seán Delaney (Naomh Eanna, 0-1), Rees Broaders (St. Mary's, Rosslare, 0-2); Conall Clancy (Faythe Harriers, 2-2), Seán O'Connor (Rathnure, 0-2 frees), Cathal Doyle (Taghmon-Camross, 1-4). Subs. - Sam Audsley (St. Martin's) for O'Hagan, Peter Rowley (Oylegate-Glenbrien) for M. Gahan, James Lawlor (Ferns St. Aidan's) for Broaders, Chris Callanan (Liam Mellows), also Ben Walsh (Geraldine O'Hanrahans).