Leinster U20HC final: Carey's Cats claim inaugural title

July 17, 2019

Wexford's Eoin Murphy is tackled by Mikey Butler of Kilkenny. ©INPHO/Bryan Keane.

Kilkenny 1-17

Wexford 0-18

DJ Carey guided Kilkenny to the inaugural Leinster U20 hurling championship crown at Wexford's expense tonight.

The legendary Carey won five All-Ireland SHC medals as a Kilkenny player and added his first championship title as a manager with his county in emphatic fashion at Innovate Wexford Park.

Two weeks after their minor-senior double success at Croke Park, Wexford were hoping to complete a clean sweep of provincial titles over Kilkenny.

Inspired by captain Evan Shefflin, who netted the all-important goal midway through the first half, the Cats claimed the honours in front of a crowd of 6,612 spectators.

Wexford's Ross Banville got the game's first score after six minutes of play from a 45 metre free and the Shelmaliers sharpshooter quickly followed up with another placed ball before Aaron Brennan opened Kilkenny's account.

In difficult conditions, scores were hard to come by early on and both teams were guilty of wides as Kilkenny took the lead for the first time in the 15th minute through a Niall Brassil free, 0-4 to 0-3.

The hosts had a glorious goal opportunity missed in the opening stages when a Sean Keane Carroll shot rattled Dean Mason's crossbar.

Keane Carroll shipped a heavy knock in the process and was replaced moments later while Kilkenny's Sean Ryan spurned a chance at the opposite end.

Shefflin's major came in the 16th minute after the Wexford defence failed to clear their lines allowing the Kilkenny skipper to drill the sliotar to James Lawlor's net. Shefflin and Brassil added to their tallies - helping the Cats into a 1-7 to 0-8 half-time lead.

Kilkenny players celebrate with the Leinster U20HC trophy. ©INPHO/Bryan Keane.

The sides traded two points apeice on the resumption before Wexford reeled off three unanswered to go level on 38 minutes, 1-9 to 0-12. Ross Banville again (two frees) and substitute Cian Fitzhenry got in on the scoring act.

Wexford's supporters were making themselves heard but undeterred, Kilkenny registered seven of the next nine scores to regain control of the contest, 1-16 to 0-14. Man-of-the-match David Blanchfield and his half-back line colleague Michael Carey - son of the manager - made the scoresheet.

With five minutes of additional time and trailing 1-16 to 0-16, MJ Reck's side couldn't conjure up the equalising goal they needed as Shefflin steadied up the Cats with a long range effort.

All is not lost for Wexford who have an opportunity to bounce back from losing the provincial decider - they will face the Munster winners (either Tipperary or Cork) in an All-Ireland semi-final. Meanwhile, Kilkenny await the losers of next Tuesday's tie at Semple Stadium, on the other side.

Kilkenny - D Mason; J Brennan (0-1), C Flynn, M Butler; C Heary, M Carey (0-1), D Blanchfield (0-2); E O'Shea (0-1), E Shefflin (1-2); S Donnelly (0-1), N Brassil (0-5, 4f), A Brennan; J Bergin, S Ryan (0-2), E Cody (0-2). Subs: C Brennan for J Bergin, J Kelly for S Donnelly, J Dowd for E O'Shea, J Ryan for A Brennan.

Wexford - J Lawlor; C O'Connor, E Molloy, E O'Leary; N Murphy, M Kelly, C Scallan (0-1); C McGuckin (0-2), R Banville (0-7f); S Keane Carroll, C Clancy, J Reck (0-1); S O'Connor (0-3), D Doyle, E Murphy. Subs: C Fitzhenry (0-2) for S Keane Carroll, O Carthy (0-2, 1f) for D Doyle, C Turner for S O'Connor, B Maddock for R Banville.

Referee - M Murtagh.

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