Offaly 0-16 Wexford 0-14
This was a tight, close encounter played in a numbingly cold Tullamore with the wind playing a active part throughout. Wexford started with two changes to the announced line up with Lee Chin being replaced by James Tonks and Podge Doran by Rory Jacob.
Wexford played the first half with the advantage of the wind and Wexford were best in the opening minutes of the game. However the young Glynn Barntown free taker, Gary Moore struggled hitting two poor wides, scores that would prove costly in the end. Ciarán O’Shaughnessy opened the scoring for Wexford with a fine point, Richie Kehoe followed up with long range effort with further points from Jacob and Paul Morris made it Wexford 0-04 to 0-02. Shane Dooley was keeping the Faithfuls in touch from frees.
Lee Chin was introduced replaced Andrew Kenny and had a big impact on the remainder of the contest.
At half time it Wexford led 0-10 to 0-06 but conscious of the impact that the wind was playing, the travelling support were concerned that a four point lead would not be enough.
In the second half Offaly started with real intent with scores from James Mulrooney, Colin Egan and Dooley cutting Wexford’s lead to single point within 5 minutes of the restart, the signs were worrying. However to their credit the Wexford lads steadied the ship and battled hard, with Paul Morris, taking over free taking duties from Gary Moore punished any Offaly infringement. At the back Richie Kehoe and Andrew Shore were superb breaking up attacks, winning the aerial contests and delivering decent ball out of defence. Eoin Quigley came on for Gary Moore and assisted the hard pressed defence, dropping back and sweeping up loose ball.
So by midway through the half Wexford led 0-13 to 0-10 but Offaly at this critical stage upped the ante and made great use of wind to pick off some fine long range score.
Offaly were more efficient than Wexford and seemed to score with greater ease, making excellent use of the hand pass and cleaver short passing, moving the ball laterally to great effect. As the game ticked into time added on, Wexford trailed by two points and were in search of a winning goal. When Rory Jacob was fouled and the Limerick referee awarded a close range free memories shot back to the corresponding game in 2012 when Wexford stole the game at the death from a free. The drama rose as Wexford goal keeper, Mark Fanning made the trip up the pitch the take the free just outside the Offaly penalty area.
But his direct opponent, Offaly goal keeper James Dempsey denied him with Garrett Sinnotts follow up shot going wide. That was it, time up, a two point loss but the overwhelming sense from the Wexford support was that, while disappointed to lose, that we could have won it and given the list of injuries (including Gizzy Lyng, Jack Guiney. Keith Rossiter, PJ Nolan) that the lads had acquitted themselves well.
Speaking afterwards, Wexford Manager Liam Dunne said he was ‘very disappointed to lose the game but delighted with the performance and the effort’ in particular he was pleased with the return of Eoin Quigley and impact of Lee Chin when introduced.
Overall Dunne believes we are in ‘better place’ than when we met Offaly in the 2012 championship and while there is a still a lot of work required he believes we are undoubtedly going in the right direction.
Best for Wexford:
Andrew Shore – really growing into the full back role, did well, excellent aerial presence
Paul Morris – busy hitting 10 points in total, 3 from play and 7 from placed balls, really developing into a top class attacker
Lee Chin – introduced as sub in the first half due to knocks he picked up on Wednesday night with the u-21 footballers. Made a significant impact, strong under the ball, excellent positional sense and smart, low delivery to the forwards
Richie Kehoe – showed great leadership, held the centre well as well as chipping in with a score
Wexford: P Morris 0-10 0-7 frees, R Jacob 0-2, C O’Shaughnessy 0-1, R Kehoe 0-1 free
Offaly: S Dooley 0-7 frees, J Bergin 0-2, J Mulrooney 0-1, C Egan 0-1, D Molloy 0-1, C Parlon 0-1, O Kealey 0-1, T Carroll 0-1, D Morkan 0-1
Wexford: Mark Fanning; Eoin Doyle, Andrew Shore, Bobby Kenny; James Tonks, Richie Kehoe, Andrew Kenny; Harry Kehoe, David Redmond; Gary Moore, Stephen Murphy, Ciarán O’Shaughnessy , Paul Morris, Garrett Sinnott, Rory Jacob.
Subs: Lee Chin for Andrew Kenny, Eoin Quigley for Gary Moore, Micheál O’Regan for Stephen Murphy (Blood)
Offaly: James Dempsey; Chris McDonald, David Kenny, David King; Derek Morkan, Rory Hanniffy, Seán Gardiner; Kevin Brady, Brian Carroll; Colin Egan, Joe Bergin (0-01), Cathal Parlon; Shane Dooley (0-05, 0-05 frees), Derek Molloy, James Mulrooney.
Subs: Paul Cleary for Seán Gardiner, Sean Ryan for David King
Referee: Shane Hourigan (Limerick)