Allianz NHL Division 1B: Wins for Wexford and Kilkenny
By Ben Bernie
The big talking point from round 1 was the altering of the advantage rule and the amount of frees awarded, and the big talking point from round 2 seems to be very similar. Everyone who was anyone in the hurling world was laying into it. Former referee Dickie Murphy has said the new rules need time so we can really see how they work, however so far it doesn’t seem hurling people have not become anymore fond of it after a second round of games. In Division 1B we had three very competitive games and the most anticipated game of the weekend did not disappoint, where Wexford edged out Clare. Dublin got their first points on the board with a win over a much improved Laois, and Antrim put up a fine display against Kilkenny in Nowlan Park while losing by seven.
Wexford 2-19- 1-21 Clare
Clare were the better team for much of the game, yet were defeated at the death. They had been bossing most of the first half and were five points ahead. But in the closing stages, Tony Kelly left the field with a leg injury and Wexford got the momentum, they knocked over three points on the spin to leave two in it.
Just as this happened, the excellent Aaron Shanagher caught a long delivery and was pulled down by Joe O’Connor. The last puck of the first half was Clare’s Aidan McCarthy blasting the penalty to the back of the net to bring the difference back to five, Joe O’Connor was also sent to the sin bin. In the second half Clare took the ascendancy again, with McCarthy particularly impressive from midfield.
Clare led 1-17 to 0-13 at the second half water break and it looked good for them. Then there was another momentum swing, Liam Corry was red carded for hacking at Rory O’Connor in the 57th minute as he ran through. Very quickly after David Dunne set up Simon Donohue for Wexford's first goal and only moments later O’Connor ran through again and assisted Lee Chin for Wexford's second and their tails were up.
Matthew O’Hanlon was sent off near the end for a second yellow so both sides finished with 14 men, the resulting free from McCarthy left the sides level. However, Rory O’Connor stepped up to nail a tight free to win the game for Wexford .
Antrim 3-15 - 1-28 Kilkenny
Antrim have to be happy with their performance in Nowlan Park. Many would have feared for them but they certainly competed well. At half time Kilkenny led 0-6 to 1-11, but a blistering start to the second half where Antrim scored 2-4 in eight minutes left the sides level. Ciarán Clarke and Conall Cunning getting the goals.
Kilkenny then got going again and rattled off the next eight points, to put the result out of question. Neil Macmanus goaled in the 61st minute to put The Saffrons within three, but Kilkenny kept putting over the points. In the absence of TJ Reid, Alan Murphy was the chief scorer and will be happy with his performance scoring 13 points, which included 4 from play.