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Swapping Hurleys For Ice Cream Cones

by Jimmy Rhatigan

Pics by Donal Foley

It was akin to a South East Grand Prix race between a Ferrari and a secondhand Lada.
Unsurprisingly, the black and amber clad Ferrari ran Wexford’s purple and gold Russian-made machine ragged in what we might call lap one.
With the Lada over-heating maybe in the 22 degrees at sun-kissed UPMC Nowlan Park it was the Cats who could enjoy the shade at the half time hurling break as they led by 2-15 to 0-7.
Pandemic restrictions deemed that supporters were again absent so any debate on exactly what the first half meant was mainly media speculation.
The simple answer was that the Kilkenny team was superb; credit where credit is due.
A superbly well-oiled and brilliantly fit Kilkenny toyed with the opposition and from very early on a third successive league victory was next door to assured.
Kilkenny had impressive players all over the park but most satisfying was that TJ Reid and his magic wand, also known as a hurley totted up a sensational 1-18 over 70 minutes plus two three-minute injury time periods.

Even the normally demonstrative Wexford coach, Davy Fitzgerald was remarkably cool in sweltering conditions.
Davy’s sideline antics, that in fairness can be quite entertaining to friend and foe, were kept under wraps.
It was as if he would have preferred to be lying on Duncannon Beach or tucking into a bowl of Wexican strawberries and cream.
The latter set tongues wagging.
How seriously were Davy and his Wexford charges taking a game in which sparks would normally be flying from throw-in to final whistle?
Trailing seriously at the intermission, the boys of Wexford might just have considered swapping their hurleys for ice cream cones.
To be fair, we saw a different Wexford in half two or maybe that should be lap two.
A number of substitutions saw Lee Chin and his mates up the ante and while the Kilkenny lead was never really in danger, the visitors did win back lost pride.

The Kilkenny first half performance was a 10/10 display.
A combination of Kilkenny experiments and Wexford waking from its slumbers probably reduced the second half showing to an 8/10.
Had supporters been back in their seats and pubs been allowed to serve up cool porter after the game, there is no doubt that the topsy-turvy confrontation would have led to further debate, with conspiracy theories as plentiful as Kilkenny scores.
In circa five weeks time the same teams could meet again in the Leinster Championship semi-final.
That is provided that Wexford see off Laois in the meantime.
The former game should be what some supporters might call a ding dong battle.
A spectacular clash of the ash should be in store and Kilkenny would no doubt be quite happy with a similar result to today’s deserved win.
Only time will tell how the cookie will crumble.
But one thing is for sure.
The strawberry men won’t be easy picking.
Final score on Sunday was 2-27, Wexford 0-23.

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