ALLIANZ HURLING LEAGUE DIVISION IB: LAOIS 0-25 WEXFORD 5-22
A flurry of second-half goals from Wexford guided them to victory in their vital penultimate round-robin clash with Laois in Division IB at O’Moore Park on Sunday.
Laois’s reaction to puck-outs was much sharper than Wexford and that’s where most of their points originated from, which helped them keep in touch for the opening half. Indeed, Wexford only led by the bare minimum at the interval.
Youthful midfielders Zane Keenan and Paddy Purcell showed great panache throughout but they could not hold off the ferocious midfield pairing of Lee Chin and David Redmond for Wexford. The visitors played with a vigour akin to what marked their championship campaign in 2014.
They atoned for their disappointing one-point loss to Limerick with a stunning finish that sets up a cracking final-round tie with Waterford with promotion to Division IA at stake – a gift indebted to Offaly’s defeat of Limerick in Saturday night’s clash.
Wexford opened with a piping hot routine. With Matthew O’Hanlon falling back to full-back and Lee Chin sliding to centre-back, Andrew Shore delivered a sterling strike inside to Liam Óg McGovern. The St. Anne’s clubman had options to the left in the form of Conor McDonald but instead he chose to rifle a shot to the bottom left-hand corner, giving Wexford a 1-1 to 0-1 6th minute advantage.
While impressive half-forwards Willie Hyland and Charles Dwyer struck back with points, Lee Chin and Eoin Moore managed to set up Ian Byrne and Diarmuid O’Keefe for points adding to Wexford’s tally.
Laois were masterful underneath the puck-outs and so Paddy Whelan, Charles Dwyer and Paddy Purcell’s efforts managed to give Laois the initiative with 25 minutes on the clock (0-11 to 1-7). Conor McDonald, who drifted around the middle-third of the park, fired over a sweet point to put Wexford one clear at halftime (0-13 to 0-11).
Wexford were slow to reemerge from the dressing-rooms but when they did Laois felt the brunt of their rage within just twenty seconds of the throw-in. Conor McDonald lobbed a high ball-in and as Eoin Reilly and Cahir Healy tried to keep the Podge Doran at bay, the ball managed to scurry past the goal-line.
Laois struck back with a brace of points but then David Redmond bolstered Wexford’s lead as he blasted the ball from the left-flank after a number of earlier efforts had been denied. Those goals proved to be the difference as both sides continued to trade points on a tit-for-tat basis.
Ian Byrne, who landed 0-15 in all (11 from placed balls), earned a beautiful 42nd minute point as he clenched the ball, past a number of men and his left-handed strike gave the Liam Dunne-managed outfit a 3-16 to 0-20 lead. Wexford gave Laois a thumping coup-de-gráce just over ten-minutes shy of full-time.
First Liam Ryan played a diagonal ball to Liam Óg McGovern who was first denied but Podge Doran followed up to bury the ball in the town-end net. Seconds later, Conor McDonald raised the green-flag after McGovern had aided him.
Zane Keenan and Willie Hyland, who had both been sublime, rallied back but Ian Byrne tagged pointed frees on at their ease as Wexford gained revenge for their last loss to Laois in their Bord na Móna Walsh Cup tie back in January.
Scorers for Wexford: I Byrne 0-15 (10 f, 1 ’65’), C McDonald 2-2, L McGovern 1-0, D Redmond 1-1, P Doran 1-0, D O’Keefe 0-1, H Kehoe 0-1, L Chin 0-1, L Ryan 0-1.
Scorers for Laois: Z Keenan 0-7 (3f), W Hyland 0-6, C Dwyer 0-4, P Whelan 0-3, P Purcell 0-2, R King 0-1, PJ Scully 0-2 (1 sl).
WEXFORD: N Breen; L Ryan, M O’Hanlon (capt.), E Conroy; P Foley, L Chin, E Moore; D Redmond, A Shore; D O’Keefe, P Doran, I Byrne; L McGovern, C McDonald, H Kehoe. Subs: K Foley for D O’Keefe (54′); C Devitt for P Foley (inj., 63′); A Nolan for D Redmond (65′); É Martin for E Moore (67′); G Sinnott for H Kehoe (68′).
LAOIS: E Reilly; JA Delaney, C Healy, B Stapleton; J Fitzpatrick, M Whelan (capt.), J Walsh; Z Keenan, P Purcell; W Hyland, P Whelan, C Dwyer; R King, PJ Scully, N Foyle. Subs: T Fitzgerald for N Foyle (inj.)(29′); T Delaney for M Whelan (HT); J Campion for R King (HT); C Dunne for J Walsh (inj., 56′); B Conrou for W Hyland (inj., 68′).
Referee: John Keenan (Wicklow).
Report: Michael Dwyer