Wexford ran out comfortable 2-12 to 1-7 winners over 14 man Laois to book their date with Kilkenny in the Leinster MHC semi-final.
Martin Storey’s side had appeared to be caught cold by the hosts in the wet and windy O’Moore Park. Laois fought their way to a 1-5 to 0-5 lead at half time thanks to a Charlie Dwyer goal.
After the resumption the Model County showed their class and quickly narrowed the gap before Conor McDonald netted either side of a red card for Laois half back Will Young.
Wexford started the brightest and after Rhys Clarke and Stephen Maher traded early scores they assumed a 3 -1 lead as Clarke and McDonald set the standard, a standard Wexford would not reach again until the second half. Laois hit back quick and fast.
Dwyer’s 18th minute goal signalled the start of a purple patch as he majestically rose to catch a long ball and turned to bury a strike past a helpless Conor O’Leary. Maher capitalised on the momentum swing as he sent three efforts sailing over the bar.
Wexford were in serious danger and they had a double from Aidan Nolan to thank for the narrow half time scoreline which made it all to play in round two.
The second half began much as the first, two quick-fire scores were traded between Clarke and PJ Scully. But then began the yellow-bellies fightback.
Within six minutes they had closed the gap to the minimum. Another Clarke free was added to by Gary Moore before Laois regained the lead through Joe Campion.
Then the home crowd fell silent, McDonald latched onto Aiden Nolan’s long ball and managed to turn it goal wards to swing the impetus towards the east coast.
The disappointment in the stands turned to confusion as Young was shown a red card even before the puck out was taken. The centre half had been in impressive form to this point but his day was ended for an incident off the ball. A mountain to climb now for Laois with just 10 minutes on the clock.
It took just three of those minutes for Wexford to produce a carbon copy of their first goal, McDonald again claiming a long Nolan puck and maximising the damage to the Laois psyche with the score at 2-9 to 1-7.
There was no way back for the hosts and they could but watch as Jack Guiney added to two more dead-ball scores from Clarke to set Wexford on their way to home advantage when they meet the Cats on June 25th.
If they are to prevail in that encounter they will not be allowed any slack as they were in a lacklustre first half on Saturday.
Laois: Enda Rowland; Matthew Collier, Paudge Lawlor, Dwayne Palmer; Bill Duggan, Will Young, Gearóid Burke; James Ryan, Colm Gleeson; PJ Scully (0-1), Stephen Maher (0-4, 2 frees), Ryan Peacock (0-1); Tadhg Dowling, Charlie Dwyer(1-0), Joe Campion(0-1) Subs: Kevin Lalor for Colm Gleeson, MJ Lalor for Tadhg Dowling.
Wexford: Conor O’Leary; Seán Murphy, Andrew Kenny, Garret Foley; Colm Heffernan, Shane O’ Gorman, Walter Furlong; Jack Guiney (0-1), Conor Devitt; Gary Moore (0-1), Aidan Nolan (0-2), Conor Hughes; Rhys Clarke (0-7,5 frees,65), Conor McDonald (2-1), Páraic Roche. Subs: Pádraig Doyle for Conor Hughes, Declan Byrne for Páraic Roche.
Sportsnewsireland will have live score updates on all GAA Championship matches over the summer.