Sharpshooter Billy Drennan pointed seven frees for Kilkenny as they eked out a one-point final victory over a battling Wexford side to claim the Leinster Under-20 hurling title.
Wexford struggled early on with the slippery conditions with Kilkenny quick to capitalise, two quick-fire scores from Denis Walsh and Timmy Clifford increased their lead out to three with 10 minutes on the clock.
A Cian Byrne free close to goal got the scoreboard for Wexford up and running finally on 12 minutes.
The Cats were having no such problems with a huge score from distance by Andy Hickey followed up immediately by a second for Walsh and a third for Drennan pushing the difference between the sides to six points with twenty minutes played.
With Wexford under immense pressure and struggling to get past the half back line they needed a response and quick. Ten minutes after their first score, Cian Molloy stood up to the task slotting Wexford’s second.
Cian Byrne’s accuracy in front of the posts was keeping the Yellowbellies in the game as two frees just before the break ensured it was just a goal that separated the sides at the interval.
Wexford began the second half just as they had ended the first with a real zip and pace to their hurling. After some excellent build up in midfield Jack Redmond found space out on the left before firing over his first point of the game and narrow the game to two.
Badly needed scores for Kilkenny soon came to stop the Wexford momentum and get them scoring themselves again after a fallow period.
Substitute Jack Doyle fired a goal with his first involvement in the game firing to the net to put six between the sides as we entered the home stretch.
The impressive Cian Byrne responded admirably with three frees keeping his side in the game.
Wexford’s confidence was high heading into the last twelve minutes of the game, with Richie Lawlor, Joe Redmond and Cian Byrne all raising white flags to get their side back to within two.
As close as Wexford could get, Billy Drennan was steering his side through the game and put a stop to Wexford’s gallop with two quick frees to keep them at bay with five minutes remaining.
Another Cian Byrne free brought the sides back to within three points in a matter of minutes before the corner forward had a huge chance close to goal to level the sides.
His rasper of a shot rose just over the bar at the last second. Another point for Byrne but not what they needed so late in the game.
Injury-time points from Byrne once more and Kinsella ensured a grandstand finish. With the last puck of the game Jack Redmond shot agonisingly wide as Kilkenny held out by the narrowest of margins to be crowned Leinster U20 Champions for 2022.
They will play Munster champions Limerick in the All-Ireland final the weekend of May 21/22.
Kilkenny manager Derek Lyng told TG4 after the game: "We really got out of jail, to be fair.
"Wexford came strong the last 10 minutes. Any time we went two scores ahead we got a little bit nervy and kind of stopped hurling. In fairness to Wexford they never gave up.
"We have a lot of work to do ahead of the final but it's a great place to be.
"They showed tremendous character to see this out again today."
Wexford: Cian Byrne; Eoin Ryan, Conor Foley, AJ Redmond; Joe Barrett, Cian Molloy (0-1), Kyle Scallan; Darragh Carley, Luke Kavanagh; Richie Lawlor (0-1), Corey Byrne Dunbar, Shamey O’Hagan; Cian Browne, Jack Redmond (0-2), Cian Byrne (0-10, 7f)
Subs: David Codd for Corey Byrne Dunbar (44), Tomas Kinsella (0-1) for Shamey O’Hagan (47), JJ Twamley for Darragh Carley (52), Josh Shiel for Cian Browne (57), Liam Cassin on for Luke Kavanagh (59)
Kilkenny: Aidan Tallis; Niall Rowe, Sean Purcell, Padraig Lennon; Joe Fitzpatrick, Padraic Moylan, Paddy Langton (0-1); Killian Doyle, Denis Walsh (0-3); Andy Hickey (0-1), Timmy Clifford (0-1), Peter McDonald; Billy Drennan (0-7 7f), Gearoid Dunne, Ted Dunne
Subs: Ian Byrne for Ted Dunne (31), Jack Doyle (1-0) for Peter McDonald (31), James Walsh for Gearoid Dunne (42), Eoin O’Brien for Andy Hickey (56), Billy Reid for Joe Fitzpatrick (59)