Under-17 hurlers lose to Cats

Kilkenny 0-22 Wexford 0-14

Alan Aherne

Wexford's Micheál O'Connor pursues Kilkenny midfielder Aaron Brennan
Wexford's Micheál O'Connor pursues Kilkenny midfielder Aaron Brennan

Weford's problems dealing with Kilkenny were transferred from Minor to the Under-17 grade in Taghmon on Wednesday when their first outing in the new Leinster special hurling tournament at this level was won comfortably by the visitors.

This event is a precursor to next year when the under-age championships will be in the Under-17 and Under-20 grades respectively, rather than Under-18 and Under-21.

And all is not yet lost for Wexford as they will be travelling to Kildare for a quarter-final tomorrow (Wednesday), while the Celtic Challenge will start next month when the North and South teams will both be defending titles won in the inaugural competition last year.

Kilkenny cruised directly into the last four, with the key spell coming between the 18th and 27th minutes when they rattled off seven points without reply to surge into a 0-12 to 0-4 lead.

The outcome was never really in doubt thereafter, even though Wexford did recover somewhat before the interval with the last three points courtesy of Ben Stafford, Ross Banville (free) and Cathal Doyle.

Seven of Kilkenny's first-half points came from Jack Buggy frees, with Wexford's indiscretions close to their own goal punished to the full.

There was a bright start, with Cathal Doyle opening the scoring on his home pitch after a mere 16 seconds following a neat turn.

Jack Buggy and Ross Banville then swapped points from frees, with the latter starting at left half-forward and later featuring on the '40, at midfield and finally at centre-back just four days after figuring at corner-forward on the Minor side beaten by the Cats in Nowlan Park.

Banville looked to be suspiciously over the sideline before widening the Wexford lead to 0-3 to 0-1 in the seventh minute, but Kilkenny powered back as Jason Phelan pointed while Buggy drove over three frees.

A Kevin O'Donohoe point for the home side was followed by a goal attempt from Rhys Broaders which struck the side-netting, and this was the signal for the visitors to considerably up the tempo.

They gained complete control in that fruitful scoring spell when Ciarán Brennan, Cian Kinsella, Buggy and Aaron Brennan all made telling contributions.

Kilkenny steadily widened the gap on the re-start, with the two best scores coming from wing-back Daire O'Neill as he caught a couple of Wexford puck-outs and returned them over the bar with interest.

It meant that the locals trailed by 0-20 to 0-10 with ten minutes left, with their additional points having arrived from Rhys Broaders and Ross Banville (two frees).

Kilkenny had created a couple of goal chances, with Cian Kinsella hooked as he prepared to pull the trigger, leading to a '65 converted by Jack Buggy, while the scorer later flicked a close-range effort wide via the post.

Wexford lost defender Sam Audsley to a second yellow card in the 51st minute, but actually finished stronger than their rivals who rested somewhat on their laurels, only adding two points from Cian Kinsella and playing as individuals in attack.

Substitute Seán O'Connor definitely added something to the Wexford forwards and earned a free for Ross Banville to convert before whipping a close-range shot over the bar himself.

Another replacement, James Lawlor, had been substitute goalkeeper for the Minors but featured up front this time around, and he went for goal from a late free but his rising shot whizzed over.

Banville - who had moved to centre-back after Audsley's dismissal - was rewarded for a persistent run with a well-taken point, but Lawlor was denied a late consolation goal when he kept another late free down, only to see it saved.

If Wexford manage to overcome Kildare in Hawkfield tomorrow (Wednesday), Dublin will be their semi-final opponents.

Wexford: Seán Cooper (Davidstown-Courtnacuddy); Cillian Gahan (Faythe Harriers), Tommy Ryan (Gusserane), Patrick O'Hagan (Ferns St. Aidan's); Conall O Crualaoich (Faythe Harriers), Sam Audsley (St. Martin's), Micheál Gahan (Monageer-Boolavogue); Micheál O'Connor (Rathnure), Ben Stafford (St. Martin's, 0-1); Kevin O'Donohoe (Gusserane, 0-1), Seán Delaney (Naomh Eanna, capt.), Ross Banville (Shelmaliers, 0-7, 5 frees); Rhys Broaders (St. Mary's, Rosslare, 0-1), Conor Nolan (Oylegate-Glenbrien), Cathal Doyle (Taghmon-Camross, 0-2). Subs. - Conall Clancy (Faythe Harriers) for O'Donohoe (HT), Eoin Doyle (Craanford) for O'Hagan (HT), Seán O'Connor (Rathnure, 0-1) for Nolan (38), James Lawlor (Ferns St. Aidan's, 0-1 free) for Delaney (47), also Ben Walsh (Geraldine O'Hanrahans), David Pettit (Our Lady's Island/St. Fintan's), Peter Rowley (Oylegate-Glenbrien), Chris Callinan (Liam Mellows), Liam Coleman (Liam Mellows).

Kilkenny: Jason Brennan; Darragh O'Keeffe, James Phelan, Ned Kirwan; Mark Nolan, Oran Brophy, Daire O'Neill (0-2); Aaron Brennan (0-1), Ian Walsh; Cian Kinsella (0-3), Jason Phelan (0-2), Conor Drennan; Jack Buggy (0-11, 9 frees, 1 '65), Jack Morrissey, Ciarán Brennan (0-2). Subs. - Dacel Fwanba (0-1) for Morrissey (38), Jamie Young for A. Brennan (48), Jack Hickey for Buggy, inj. (58).

Referee: Chris Mooney (Dublin).

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