Hurling round-up: Wexford upset Kilkenny to reach semi-finals
History was made this afternoon when three teams from Division 1B of the Allianz Hurling league qualified for the semi-finals of the competition for the first time.
Wexford, who secured their first league win over Kilkenny at Nowlan Park since 1957, will meet All-Ireland title holders, Tipperary who, as expected, brushed aside the challenge of Offaly in Tullamore.
The other semi-final will feature Galway and Limerick who beat Division 1A sides Waterford and Cork respectively. The two games are scheduled for Sunday week, April 16.
Meanwhile, at the other end of the table Clare preserved their Division 1A status when they overcame the challenge of Dublin in Ennis.
As is his wont it was Davy Fitzgerald and the boys of Wexford who grabbed the lion’s share of the headlines with a five-point win over Brian Cody’s Kilkenny at Nowlan Park.
Indeed, but for the brilliance of Kilkenny All Star goalkeeper Eoin Murphy - who pulled of three jaw-dropping saves - the home side would have suffered a bigger defeat.
The teams were level (0-10 to 1-7) at the break with the visitors’ goal coming from David Dunne. As expected Wexford deployed a sweeper and Shaun Murphy proved so effective in the role in the first period that Kilkenny ‘marked’ him in the second half.
But it was Wexford who forged ahead after the break and were desperately unlucky when a penalty from goalkeeper Mark Fanning struck the butt of the upright and rebounded to safety.
Kilkenny hung in and it was a two-point game until a monster free from Fanning was touched to the net by Conor McDonald.
Last season Davy Fitzgerald guided Clare from Division 1B all the way to the league title and they will enjoy a crack off Tipperary in the semi-final.
The Premier County eased their way to an 18-point win over Offaly, though the concession of three goals will be of some concern to team boss, Michael Ryan.
Galway staged a stunning comeback at Pearse Stadium against last year’s beaten league finalists Waterford to secure a place in the last four.
When Tom Devine hit a brace of goals in a 90-second spell in the third quarter to give the Déise a ten-point advantage (2-17; 1-10) the Tribesmen’s cause looked hopeless.
They had made a wretched start to the contest falling eight points behind (0-10; 0-2) before the end of the first quarter. To compound Galway’s woes Joe Canning had a penalty saved but a goal from Conor Cooney revived their chances.
But Galway staged a dramatic revival in the closing 20 minutes when they outscored the visitors 1-12; 0-2.
Canning played a crucial role in their comeback with his 62nd minute converted penalty – awarded after Waterford goalkeeper Ian O’Regan fouled Cathal Mannion – the key score.
It was nip and tuck most of the way between Cork and Limerick at Páirc Uí Rinn. The sides were level 1-9 each at the break but crucially at the business end of the contest the visitors outscored their opponents 3-1 with Gearoid Hegarty converting a crucial sideline to seal the Rebels’ fate.
Meanwhile, in Ennis goals from Aaron Shanagher, John Conlon and Tony Kelly proved decisive as Clare eased to a an eight-point win over Dublin who failed to raise a green flag and will now play in Division 1B in 2018.
Allianz HL Division 1 quarter-final results:
Offaly 3-13 Tipperary 4-28
Cork 1-18 Limerick 1-20
Galway 2-22 Waterford 2-19
Kilkenny 0-19 Wexford 2-18
Division 1A relegation play-off result:
Clare 3-18 Dublin 0-19
Allianz HL Division 3B final result:
Longford 4-19 Warwickshire 3-20 AET