Passion, pride and drama: What a super final

Locked in battle: Chris Bolger, Kilkenny and Matthew O’Hanlon

By Jimmy Rhatigan

All pics: Donal Foley

FOR DRAMA, entertainment, passion and pride, it would be hard to beat.

The Walsh Cup Final was great value for money, a reminder that a new season as thundering in and perhaps positive vibes for the rest of the year.

A Kilkenny team that was short several regulars, including TJ Reid faced a full strength Wexford, champing at the bit, hoping for a boost with a win of those they might call noisy neighbours.

For much of a highly charged and hugely honest game, the Cats were, maybe not in full control, but at least in charge of the wheel.

Wexford were always playing catch up.

After after Kilkenny had Richie Reid sent off, followed by manager, Brian Cody, they had the temerity to fire themselves in front for the first time in the first half of extra.

The tie was now tenuously balanced on a see-saw, depending on whom Lady Luck might smile or hoping for a bit of magic.

But as the game slogged towards 90 minutes, it became somewhat evident, but never certain, that a new penalty shoot-rule would raise what some might call its ugly head.

But, the late, late drama was to prove a real crowd pleaser, a possible heart stopper, extra drama after the game had petered out in extra time.

The shoot-out was nail gnawing.

Paul Morris (Wexford) wide; Eoin Murhy (Kilkenny) 0-1; Lee Chin (W) missed; Conor Martin (K) 0-1.

At long last it looked as if the Cats had the game by the scruff of the neck.

But hurling can be a never ending bag of tricks.

The pucks continued: Conor McDonald (W) 0-1; Lester Ryan (K) missed; Jack Guiney (W) 0-1; Alan Murphy (K) 0-1.

The teams were still locked together and a miss now would be curtains.

Mark Fanning (W) 0-1; John Walsh (K) missed.

Wexford had come to Kilkenny’s backyard and done the business.