Wexford marched into the Leinster SFC final against Dublin after a clinical second half display saw them dispatch Carlow by 4-12 to 0-10 with Shane Roche leading the way with an impressive 2-04 which helped his county to their second Leinster final in four years.
Carlow started much the brighter in the game despite Wexford and Roche getting the first score of the game within the first minute. Brian Murphy got Carlow’s first point of the game. Brian, and his brother Brendan, were at the heart of everything good that Carlow did in the opening exchanges of the game and it looked for a few fleeting moments that an upset could be on the cards.
Wexford however were guilty of missing a number of easy scoring chances in the opening period with Ben Brosnan, Ciarán Lyng and Eric Bradley missing chances to score in quick succession. Those misses fuelled Carlow’s confidence and they took the game to Wexford. All their hard work however was undone a few moments before half time.
With the sides level Shane Redmond, Carlow’s usually reliable centre back and captain, cheaply lost possession, that gifted a goal scoring opportunity that Shane Roche duly finished to get his second goal of the afternoon. That goal on the stroke of half time gave Wexford a three point lead and took the wind out of Carlow.
In the second half Wexford moved up a few gears and pulled away from Carlow, who looked out of gas after their first half exertions began to take their toll. The third goal from substitute PJ Banville and fourth by Eric Bradley were icing on the cake for Wexford as much of the damage had been done by the flurry of points that they scored in the second half which blew Carlow away.
Speaking after the match Wexford manager Jason Ryan spoke about how half time was the real turning point for his side saying “It was just fundamental mistakes that needed to be tweaked,” said Ryan.
“Handling – holding onto the ball too long, losing ball in the tackle, shot selection was a little bit out. Carlow dominated their kick outs as well.”
Ryan also felt that the expectation on his side contributed to their poor first half display “We are so used to coming to Croke Park as underdogs so it is our first time ever coming here as favourites. And red-hot favourites. That takes a bit of getting used to.
“Maybe that had something to do with the slowness, or lack of slickness in our play at times.”