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Wexicans lose by a Cat’s Whisker

by Jimmy Rhatigan

The Wexicans were wonderful.

But the Cats of Kilkenny were even more sensational as they sealed a see-saw sizzler by a single point at sardine-tin packed UPMC Nowlan Park on Super Sunday.

And one would like to think that despite some great scores by both sides it was the sideline ball by master craftsman TJ Reid that was the difference between the South East neighbours at the end of a blockbuster that would top the bill at any theatre of sporting dreams.

Kilkenny was awarded a line ball on the left hand track to the Wexford goal in the second half.

Up stepped the son of the Shamrock; he wielded his camán and with a beautiful stroke he landed the sideline ball, or a ‘cut’ as we called it in Fatima Place many moons ago and the sky-bound sliotar sailed gracefully between the sticks of the Wexford goal.

That was one of the highlights of a beautiful game that ebbed and flowed just as brilliantly as the Three Sisters, the Barrow, Nore and Suir wearing their best bathing gear and nestling delightfully in the sunshine of the sunny South East.

There were many suspects on both teams for the score of the game but the nearest to TJ had to be his team mate, Graigue Ballycallan’s Billy Ryan who cracked a magnificent overhead point as Kilkenny completed a second half Renaissance after a mediocre first period that fell short of its own high standards.


The head-to- head would surely have brought 11 marks out of 10 from lovers of a game that when played at its best would be a rival for any brother or sister sport in any corner of Planet Earth.

The clash of the ash was arguably the best hurling exhibition cum battle of wits, wisdom and wiles with a dash of courage, conviction and passion thrown into the cake for real taste.

Paddy Deegan, TJ Reid, Richie Reid, John Donnelly, David Blanchfield et alia… You could have put all the names into a hat on the second half performance and pick out a worthy winner regardless of who it was. 

Paddy Deegan, the Arnold Schwarznegger of the local game got the nod. He was superb and would have moved O’Loughlins GAA Complex to the opposite side of the road using a pickaxe and a wheelbarrow should the occasion have demanded such a gargantuan act. 


When Kilkenny flashed six points ahead edging towards the final whistle and a few bars of a song from the Fat Lady it looked all over bar the shouting of the near 20,000 crowd.

But in hurling you never count your chickens until Father Time has his clock run down, including injury time.

It was then that the Wexicans showed their mettle for real magic and will to win, as, egged on by a passionate army of arguably the best supporters in the land (along with Kilkenny aficionados of course!) they slowly but surely whittled down the Cats’ lead until the dying seconds of four minutes of injury time.

Soon there was only the puck of a sliotar between the teams and a Wexford player was in possession a short distance from the Kilkenny goal when the referee mercifully blew the final whistle to signal the end of a showdown to rival The Battle of the OK Corral.


In losing by a single point the visitors earned the continued respect of a packed Nowlan Park. They had once more shown their true colours with a display of skill and courage that lacked nothing except three points to bring home with them to New Ross, Fethard-on-Sea, Enniscorthy or wherever.

And like true Wexford lovers of hurling the Wexican players and supporters took defeat on their Lee Chins.

Wexford are down but not out and the true grit and determination that they displayed on Sunday could yet lead to greater things as the championship edges to a climax.

As for Kilkenny, the Cats and their followers must have been tickled skinny. Following a topsy turvy first half in which the team never really hit top gear, the second half brought new life, even more courage and skill and lots of bottle to show off real Kilkenny hurling.


My thoughts after the game brought me back to the utterings of the late Bags Keating and his words to an enquiring housewife after he had sharpened a garden clippers for her.

Is the clippers sharp now Mr Keating, the good lady asked.

So sharp it would shave the hairs off your backside, was his reply.

The game was as close as that.

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