The six key battles and who won them as Wexford explodes after 15 years of hurt 1 year ago

The six key battles and who won them as Wexford explodes after 15 years of hurt

Wexford 1-23 Kilkenny 0-23

So that's it, Wexford are Leinster champions.

Croke Park was a sea of purple and gold on Sunday afternoon as the Wexford banks burst and their people released 15 years worth of emotion, hope, anticipation and hurt.

Jones' Road hasn't witnessed scenes like it in quite a while. Grown adults singing songs, children on their knees, players in disbelief and Davy Fitzgerald ecstatic.

We were witnessing something special.

A late Mark Fanning penalty ultimately proved the difference between the neighbours but this was an enthralling contest from the first minute to the very last.

Let's start with the first.

Conor McDonald swivelled and drilled an absolute peach from all of 60 metres to open the scoring after two minutes but TJ Reid responded immediately for Kilkenny.

That was how it would be for the remainder of that game. Score for score, blow for blow but there were some engaging sub-plots and some heavyweight battles in between that and Fanning's final strike. Detailed here.

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Walter Walsh v Paudie Foley: Win for Foley

The battle of the 6 ft 5 in giants, Paudie Foley and Walter Walsh was the most unignorable. Just because of the sheer space they took up. Side by side from the very first whistle, Foley followed Walsh's every step, he matched his every jump and he leapt to catch his every swing.

Walsh got some change out of it, he'd knock over two points but the Wexford man won the aerial dual. Something you can't usually hold against Walsh.

With Walsh whipped off after 56, there was only on winner here.

Adrian Mullen v Shaun Murphy: Win for Mullen

That kind of thing was happening all over the field. Shaun Murphy stuck tight to Adrian Mullen but what can you do when a sprightly youngster is inspired. And powerful. For a man of just 20, he can take some punishment. His finishing is deadly too and he walloped a few rakers.

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Jack O'Connor v Joey Holden: win for Holden

It was hardly surprising that Jack O'Connor was called into start on the Wexford team. Exceptional off the bench in recent weeks, Wexford went for the jugular here. Normally a ruler of the sky, Joey Holden went about his business quietly, but as usual, very effectively.

He kept on getting a hurl in when O'Connor was poised. Then when the ball breaks, Holden is unstoppable. To O'Connor's credit though, he kept on fighting and a late point was a huge momentum shifter.

Lee Chin v Deegan: win for Chin

It felt like Lee Chin was on the ball more than anybody else in this game, and every time he got the ball he took Paddy Deegan for a run. Usually he went past him and his delivery and point-taking were exquisite. His frees were unerring, some of them from miles out and his radar was lethal from open play.

His last minute catch when Kilkenny were in search of a goal was heroic.

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This was a phenomenal display from the Faythe Harriers club man. A Leinster final winning display.

Rory O'Connor v Enda Morrissey: win for O'Connor

A man-of-the-match display from the St Martin's club man. Morrissey is a tight marker but he couldn't keep up with O'Connor's powerful running and his sharp skills.

Has a brilliant knack of bringing teammates into the game, and his driving run to win that late penalty when taking the point might have been easier, summed him up.

Conor McDonald v Huw Lawlor: Win for McDonald (just about)

The most evenly matched battle of the day. McDonald freed himself up for four well taken points and he was sharp the whole way through, but Lawlor, in his debut season emerges with some credit too. He caught some tremendous balls and his ability to get the hand in is exceptional.

All over the field, there were ding dong battles with Liam Óg McGovern tremendous in midfield while Liam Ryan commanded his square with some defiance.

In the end, Wexford had done enough. What a day for them.

Kilkenny

Eoin Murphy (0-1f) Paul Murphy, Huw Lawlor, Joey Holden; Paddy Deegan, Padraig Walsh, Enda Morrissey, James Maher (0-1) Conor Fogarty; Richie Leahy, Walter Walsh (0-2) TJ Reid (0-14,0-9f) Alan Murphy (0-1), Colin Fennelly (0-1) Adrian Mullen (0-3)

Ger Aylward for Wally Walsh

Wexford

Mark Fanning (1-0) Damien Reck, Liam Ryan, Simon Donohoe (0-1) Paudie Foley, Matthew O'Hanlon, Shaun Murphy; Kevin Foley, Diarmuid O'Keeffe (0-2) Liam Og McGovern, Lee Chin (0-11, 0-6f) Conor McDonald (0-4) Jack O'Connor (0-1), Rory O'Connor (0-3) Paul Morris (0-1)

Cathal Dunbar for Paul Morris, David Dunne for Conor McDonald