The Davy Fitzgerald revolution was sealed with silver as Wexford won their first Leinster title in 15 years and beat Kilkenny in a final at the eighth time of asking.
They couldn't be separated in Wexford a fortnight ago and it was a close, tense encounter once again at Croker as the sides were level 10 times before Wexford pulled clear in the closing stages.
A penalty dispatched by goalkeeper Mark Fanning in the 63rd minute was the difference between them on the scoreboard in the end but the Model County earned this the hard way with a superb display of grit and skill.
They shot only three wides in the entire game and co-captain Lee Chin was flawless from dead balls as Conor McDonald and Rory O’Connor (both 0-04 from play) excelled up front.
TJ Reid (0-12) was instrumental in keeping Kilkenny fighting until the final seconds but destiny couldn’t be denied and Fitzgerald’s men are deserved Leinster champions.
It was a breathless dogfight from the first whistle. Goal chances were at a premium as both sides had a spare man at the back but the tackling was fierce and the shooting superb, with only six wides registered between them in the opening half.
Wexford started brighter, McDonald opening the scoring with a super effort over his shoulder from the sideline.
Reid replied but McDonald again, Paul Morris, and Rory O'Connor with two fine efforts helped Wexford into a two-point advantage by the quarter hour - 0-06 to 0-04.
The rate of frees conceded had been a concern for Wexford ahead of the game and it started to cost them, Reid punishing several indiscretions to inch Kilkenny in front for the first time.
Late starters Alan Murphy and James Maher also justified their places with impacts on the scoreboard while Colin Fennelly chipped in with two points.
Chin was buzzing around all over the Kilkenny half and in addition to a point from play converted four frees, one won shortly after Reid was penalised for bizarrely trying to play it short to Fennelly from a free in front of goal.
Rory O’Connor landed his third following a clever exchange of hand-passes with Liam Óg McGovern and though Adrian Mullen stretched the lead again, Dee O’Keeffe made it a one-point game at the half-time whistle 0-15 0-14.
The Cats are renowned for their post-interval surges and the Brian Cody express seemed to be on schedule when Walsh popped one over shortly after the restart.
Wexford had other ideas though and hit four points without reply over the next 10 minutes, O’Keeffe again and McDonald along with Chin frees.
Kilkenny came again, Reid with his second from play and sub Ger Aylward tying it up before Eoin Murphy bombed over a free from his own 45.
Wexford got their noses back in front, Liam Óg McGovern doing brilliantly to get back to his feet and feed Rory O’Connor, but when TJ converted a 65 (one of three on the day) and then hopped the sliotar mid-stride before easing over his third point from play it was 0-22 against 0-21 with eight minutes to play.
The Wexford fans, the more vocal of the 51,842 throughout, were starting to have that familiar sinking feeling.
But this team don’t have nightmares in Black and Amber. Rory O’Connor caught a ball from Shaun Murphy and drove for goal, Enda Morrissey finally felling him as he entered the square.
Fanning channelled the spirit of Damien Fitzhenry to lash home the penalty and the roof was nearly taken off Croke Park.
McGovern picked a good time to get on the scoresheet, and Chin and Reid exchanged further frees, but with the clock running down Kilkenny needed a goal. Tension infused the stadium but the closest they came was when Fennelly booted narrowly wide. Wexford had finally gotten over the line.
Kilkenny will face Cork or Westmeath in an All-Ireland quarter-final in two weeks’ time. Wexford have a month to prepare for a first All-Ireland semi-final since 2007. They might take a few days to celebrate first.
Full time: Wexford 1-23 0-23 Kilkenny. Davy Fitzgerald's men hold on to claim their first Leinster Hurling title in 15 years. Watch live on @RTE2 now, highlights on The Sunday Game tonight at 9.30pm #rtegaa #WEXKIK pic.twitter.com/Qm3v8DJrz2— The Sunday Game (@TheSundayGame) June 30, 2019
Kilkenny: Eoin Murphy (0-01f); Paul Murphy, Huw Lawlor, Joey Holden; Paddy Deegan, Padraig Walsh, Enda Morrissey; James Maher (0-02), Conor Fogarty; Richie Leahy, Walter Walsh, TJ Reid (0-13, 6f, 3 '65s'); Alan Murphy (0-01), Colin Fennelly (0-02), Adrian Mullen (0-03).
Subs: Ger Aylward (0-01) for A Murphy (42), Billy Ryan for W Walsh (56), Richie Hogan for Fennelly (73).
Wexford: Mark Fanning (1-0 pen); Shane Reck, Liam Ryan, Simon Donohoe (0-01); Paudie Foley, Matthew O'Hanlon, Shaun Murphy; Kevin Foley, Diarmuid O'Keeffe (0-02); Liam Og McGovern (0-01), Lee Chin (0-9, 7f, 1 ‘65’) Conor McDonald (0-04); Jack O’Connor (0-01), Rory O'Connor (0-04), Paul Morris (0-01).
Subs: Conor Firman for S Reck (48), Cathal Dunbar for J O’Connor (59), David Dunne for McGovern (66), Harry Kehoe for McDonald (72).
Referee: John Keenan (Wicklow)