Liam Dempsey scored 14 points as Kildare scored a stunning upset when they defeated Wexford in the Leinster U20 Hurling Championship tonight in St Conleths Park.
Wexford were strong favourites and started with eight players who featured in the 2019 Leinster Minor final win over Kilkenny, and introduced two more as subs, but they were deservedly beaten by a Kildare side who played more than half the game with 14 men, and finished with 13.
Kildare started sharply and led 0-8 to 0-3 after 27 minutes with the brilliant Dempsey leading the way with the scores. Their hopes then suffered a real blow then when they lost midfielder Harry Dunne to second yellow card but they rallied again and led 0-10 to 0-4 at half time.
The effort from the home side nullified Wexford's extra player through the third quarter, although manager Pat English was sent to the stands for his protests to the referee.
Kildare led 0-13 to 0-8 heading into the last ten minutes and it was only when their legs began to get tired in energy sapping conditions that Wexford found a foothold in the game.
Speechless!! Fantastic performance by each & every one of the lads - victory richly deserved for all their efforts.— Kildare GAA (@KildareGAA) July 6, 2021
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AJ Redmond scored a couple from play and then Cian Molloy slotted over a free to leave three in it going into injury time.
The effort puts in across the game was really beginning to tell on the Kildare side and they were reduced to 13 men when John McKeown was shown a second yellow for dragging Corey Byrne Dunbar to the ground inside the square.
Redmond converted the penalty and then when Mark Byrne put Wexford ahead in the fourth minute of injury time the result seemed to be only heading in one direction but incredibly the 13 men of Kildare fought back.
Dempsey held his nerve to fire over an equalising point from the 65 in the sixth minute of injury time.
Both sides would probably have settled for the draw at that stage but the referee allowed one last play and Kildare won possession and got the ball to Dempsey who from the left sideline and under pressure fired over a spectacular winning point to seal a famous Kildare win.
Kildare: Sean Burke; Peter O’Donoghue, John McKeown, Matthew Eustace; Rossa Stapleton, Cian Shanahan, Paul Dolan; Conan Boran, Harry Dunne; Muiris Curtin, Liam Dempsey (0-14 (0-12 frees)), Cathal McCabe; Daragh Melville (0-1), Ferran O’Sullivan, Conor Treacy (0-1).
Subs: Ciaran Flanagan for Treacy, 46; Kevin Kelleher for Stapleton, 48; Charlie Sheridan for Melville, 54; Daniel Murray for O’Donoghue, 58; Jack Higgins for O’Sullivan, 59.
Wexford: Cian Byrne; Dylan Whelan, Kyle Scallan, Joe Conroy; Cian Browne, Cian Molloy (0-1f), Darragh Carley; Richie Lawlor, Jack Doran; Glen Murphy-Butler (0-1), Dylan O’Neill, Eanna Doyle (0-2); AJ Redmond (1-7 (1-0 PEN, 0-5 frees)), Thomas Murphy, Corey Byrne-Dunbar.
Subs: David Codd for Conroy, 23; Cian Byrne for O’Neill, 39; Luke Kavanagh for Doran, 43; Josh Shiel for Murphy-Butler, 51; Mark Byrne (0-1) for Scallan, 59.
Referee: Thomas Gleeson (Dublin).
In the other game tonight Laois were too strong for Antrim as they won by 4-27 to 0-07 at Navan.