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NHL Division 1B: Kilkenny cruise past Wexford

Kilkenny 2-27 Wexford 0-23

By Ben Bernie

After a very strange couple of weeks, Kilkenny sit top of Division 1B following a comfortable victory over Wexford in UPMC Nowlan Park. TJ Reid inspired them to their first win against the Slaneysiders since 2018. The Ballyhale man accounted for 1-18 of his sides total.

It wasn’t a classic by any means, Covid-19 cases would have disrupted both sides' preparations this week, and Wexford’s for two weeks. Billy Ryan set the tone for Kilkenny in the opening 20 seconds with a point, he was impressive throughout and finished with 1-4 to his name. Ryan’s goal after five minutes was the first opening of a gap that Wexford never came close to bridging. He collected a long ball in the corner, took on the Wexford defence and finished well across James Lawlor. Wexford looked ok for the first 11 minutes, Rory O’Connor was on fire with three fine points keeping them in touch. However it was around this time Conor Browne began to track him intently, without O’Connor influencing proceedings Wexford only managed two more points in the first half.

The Cats continued to work the scoreboard, in particular Alan Murphy got three fantastic points, one from near the corner flag. They continuously caused Wexford problems and won many frees which Reid was more than happy to knock over. In the 30th minute James Lawler made a fine save from a Kilkenny attack, only for the ball to break to the man Wexford didn’t want it to, Reid blasted to the net and Kilkenny were running away with it. Half time and the score was Kilkenny 2-15 Wexford 0-7.

Wexford improved greatly in the second half, but the game was effectively over as a contest. By the 49th minute, they had scored in the second half what they had in the whole of the first and were starting to roll, but the gap was too great. Lee Chin did have a great opportunity for a goal in the 45th minute, which might have made things interesting, but this was superbly saved by Eoin Murphy in the Kilkenny goal, Chin then pointed the resulting 65.

Wexford continued to keep the scoreboard ticking over, and points from returning stalwarts Conor Macdonald and Shaun Murphy were welcome. But it seemed whatever Wexford did, TJ Reid could do it himself and he just kept scoring. They never got closer than 10 in the second half, and they only outscored Reid by two points.

Kilkenny: E Murphy; T Walsh, H Lawlor, P Deegan (0-01); D Corcoran, P Walsh, C Browne; R Reid, C Buckley; A Mullen, J Donnelly, B Ryan (1-04); J Bergin, TJ Reid (1-18, 0-14f, 0-01 '65'), A Murphy (0-03) Subs: E Cody (0-01) for J Bergin (23), C Fogarty for Buckley (48), J Maher for B Ryan (48), M Carey for R Reid (63), L Blanchfield for A Mullen (70).

Wexford: J Lawlor; S Reck, L Ryan, J O’Connor; G Malone, M O’Hanlon, J O’Connor; D O’Keeffe (0-01), L Og McGovern; A Nolan (0-02), R O’Connor (0-04), C Devitt; L Chin (0-13, 0-10f, 0-01 '65'), M Dwyer, H Kehoe. Subs: G Bailey for J O’Connor (0-01) (24), J O’Connor for G Malone (32), K Foley for H Kehoe (ht), C McDonald (0-01) for C Devitt (ht), D Dunne for D O’Keeffe (53), C Flood for J O’Connor (53), P Morris for M Dwyer (54), S Murphy (0-01) for D Dunne (57)

. Referee: C Lyons (Cork)

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