TJ Reid made a sensational return to the Kilkenny team after shaking off a muscle injury, helping himself to a magnificent 1-18 as the Cats maintained their unbeaten run in Division 1B of the Allianz Hurling League at a sun-kissed UPMC Nowlan Park.
Reid hit form as hot as the glorious weather, and he turned all but two shots at goal into scorers. By the break he had 1-10 scored, and while Wexford came more into the game afterwards, Reid hampered them at every turn afterwards as they tried to claw their way back.
Kilkenny have suffered in tactical battles against Wexford in recent times, finding it hard to cope with their sweeper, short passing game. Today the Cats turned the tables and glittered in the sun.
They had the visitors in trouble all over as they moved in a sweeping wave from one end of the field to the other during a decisive first half. The winners were able to create huge space at times in front of the Slaney goal, and Wexford just couldn't plug the gaps.
Early on Billy Ryan and Lee Chin (free) traded points and then Rory O'Connor and T.J. Reid repeated the act. However, once Kilkenny hit the front in the fourth minute with a pointed free from Reid following a foul on James Bergin, they took off. They galloped into a strong interval lead of 2-15 to 0-7.
Roving full-forward and free taker, T.J. Reid was the main man in a fluid and sharp Noreside attack. By the time the rest was reached the Ballyhale Shamrocks man had 1-10 to his credit, including nine frees.
The second Kilkenny goal was scored by Billy Ryan in the fifth minute. He got to the end of a long and direct delivery from goalie Eoin Murphy before charging through the loose Wexford defence and shooting his side 1-3 to 0-2 in front.
Wexford, who played against the fresh breeze, just weren’t on the pace of the game, and their attack hardly showed. Lee Chin (3), Rory O’Connor (3) and Aidan Nolan were their first half scorers, but tactically Kilkenny had the opposition in a real bind.
Wexford opened the second half with two early points from Chin (frees), and while they went on to have the better of things scoring wise, they never looked like saving the game.
Their attack was well contained by a solid home defence, and their only real threat on goal came in the 44th minute when Lee Chin had a stinging drive turned out for a 65 by Kilkenny goalie, Eoin Murphy.
The score was 2-18 to 0-10 at the time. The home goalie, who saw little action during the first half, saw very little afterwards either as Cody’s men took charge of Division IB.
These teams could meet again in the Leinster championship in five weeks' time, and a very different kind of contest can be expected.
Kilkenny: E Murphy; T Walsh, H Lawlor, P Deegan (0-01); D Corcoran, P Walsh, C Browne; R Reid, C Buckley; A Mullen, J Donnelly, B Ryan (1-04); J Bergin, TJ Reid (1-18, 0-14f, 0-01 '65'), A Murphy (0-03)
Subs: E Cody (0-01) for J Bergin (23), C Fogarty for Buckley (48), J Maher for B Ryan (48), M Carey for R Reid (63), L Blanchfield for A Mullen (70).
Wexford: J Lawlor; S Reck, L Ryan, J O’Connor; G Malone, M O’Hanlon, J O’Connor; D O’Keeffe (0-01), L Og McGovern; A Nolan (0-02), R O’Connor (0-04), C Devitt; L Chin (0-13, 0-10f, 0-01 '65'), M Dwyer, H Kehoe.
Subs: G Bailey for J O’Connor (0-01) (24), J O’Connor for G Malone (32), K Foley for H Kehoe (ht), C McDonald (0-01) for C Devitt (ht), D Dunne for D O’Keeffe (53), C Flood for J O’Connor (53), P Morris for M Dwyer (54), S Murphy (0-01) for D Dunne (57).
Referee: C Lyons (Cork).