Leinster SFC preliminary round
Offaly 0-07 2-16 Wexford, O’Connor Park, 5pm
Referee: Padraig O’Sullivan (Ciarrai)
(E.T. if necessary)
Wexford had a surprisingly handy win over a very poor Offaly team at O’Connor Park in Tullamore this evening, beating the home side 2-16 to 0-08 and earning a game in the Leinster Quarter Final against Westmeath.
Offaly had gone into this game as favourites and will regret a series of missed goal chances early on to enliven the home crowd but in reality they were always chasing Wexford, who led by 1-09 to 0-06 at the break.
Just as in the league match between these two sides earlier this year, Wexford started with the use of the wind and didn’t waste the advantage, drawing a series of frees and pushing out into an early lead. Playing with a two-man inside-forward line of Ben Brosnan and Ciarán Lyng, the Pike Men turned down the easy option of high balls into the Offaly full back line.
Instead they opted to use the width of the pitch and carry the ball towards the Offaly defence and with Padraig O’Sullivan taking a firm hand on the game, the dead ball opportunities mounted up.
At 0-03 to 0-01 behind, Offaly had a great chance to respond with a goal when Seán Ryan drove at the Wexford defence and drew a penalty, but Niall McNamee’s spot kick was driven high and wide.
Wexford’s lead extended to four points at 0-06 to 0-02 before a mix up in the Offaly defence resulted in Richie Dalton hand passing the ball across his own goal, a gift that was gratefully accepted by Lyng.
The Wexford sharpshooter placed his shot past the advancing Alan Mulhall and put the visitors in a very commanding position.
Offaly played some of their best football coming towards the break and Niall McNamee hit two spectacular points to bring the home crowd to life, but a response from Brosnan quietened the crowd again before the half-time whistle.
McNamee opened the scoring in the second half with another trademark point, but Offaly went on to miss a string of goal chances, hitting the post once and having two close range efforts saved and these lifelines proved crucial to Wexford.
In contrast, when Wexford broke down the field, they didn’t waste their opportunity. Brian Malone played in Rory Quinlivan, with keeper Mulhall only able to deflect the midfielder’s shot up into the air and leaving Redmond Barry on hand to tap in one of the easiest goals he’ll ever score.
By now Wexford’s 2-11 to 0-07 lead looked unassailable. Offaly continue to push hard to reduce the deficit but their nightmare day up front continued and one point from Ken Casey was all they had to show for the last 33 minutes of play, plus injury time.
Wexford in contrast continued to chip away with scores and they could have had a third goal after C Lyng set up Paddy Byrne, but Mulhall denied the substitute from close range.
The dejection of the home side showed at end but they can have no complaints on this display while Wexford might just start remembering their success of a few years ago in reaching the semi-finals. The Sun is shining again on the South east county.
Offaly: Alan Mulhall; Brian Darby, Scott Brady, Seán Pender; Stephen Lonergan, Ross Brady, Karol Slattery; Richie Dalton, Niall Smith; Ciarán McManus, Seán Ryan, Anton Sullivan; Bernard Allen (0-02f), Nigel Dunne (0-01f), Niall McNamee (0-04).
Subs: Thomas Deehan for Anton Sullivan, Niall Darby for Nigel Dunne, John Reynolds for Seán Ryan, Ken Casey (0-01) for Bernard Allen, Joe Quinn for Stephen Lonergan.
Wexford: Anthony Masterson; Joey Wadding, Graeme Molloy, Brian Malone; Adrian Flynn, David Murphy, Aindreas Doyle,; Rory Quinlivan (0-1), Daithí Waters; Colm Morris, Redmond Barry (1-00), Eric Bradley; Ciarán Lyng (1-07, 0-04f), Shane Roche, Ben Brosnan (0-06, 0-03f, 0-01 ’45).
Subs: Paddy Byrne (0-01) for Shane Roche, Adrian Morrissey (0-01) for Adrian Flynn, Brendan Doyle for Eric Bradley, Liam Óg McGovern for Colm Morris, George Sunderland for Rory Quinlivan.