A great crowd, a sunny day and the footballers had won the first match of the day, Wexford Park stood expectant as the hurling got underway but it was not going to be a double win for Wexford as Limerick, at their relative ease, comprehensively beat Wexford 0-18 to 2-20.
With a crowd of over 5,000 in attendance and in the wake of a win for the football team over Roscommon the mood was upbeat. Limerick scored first but Wexford soon settled and through Diarmuid O’Keefe, PJ Nolan, Harry Kehoe and Banville Wexford pulled ahead 0-04 to 0-02.
Limerick though were not going to capitulate and battled back and soon drew level 0-05 apiece. Then disaster struck when following a long delivery the ball broke to Graeme Mulcahy who passed to Breen who gave the Wexford keeper no chance, the score was Wexford 0-06 to Limerick 1-06. Limerick took the whip hand for the remainder of the half and by the break the score line stood at Wexford 0-09 to Limerick 1-10. A subdued crowd awaiting the resumption with some anticipation.
Wexford, through Rory Jacob, were the first to score in the second half but Limerick replied with a hammer blow when Moran beat Niall Breen for the second time, it was now Wexford 0-10 to 2-10. Harry Kehoe hit back for Wexford but Limerick had the momentum now and opened the gap further to 0-11 to 2-13 the writing looked to be on the wall for Wexford but after last week’s heroics there was still hope of a revival!
Substitute Jack Guiney stood over a 21 metre free, and the crowd held its breath hoping he could plant it in the Limerick net but the Limerick defence stood firm and his shot was saved. Harry Kehoe hit another point soon afterwards and Wexford pressed Limerick hard and won another 21 metre free which went over the bar for a point, Wexford’s luck was out!
Wexford did not throw in the towel and Guiney, Harry Kehoe and David Redmond all accounted for some good scores but Limerick did enough and kept the scoreboard ticking over nullifying Wexford’s efforts to close the gap. At about 60 minutes the score stood at 2-18 to 0-18 and while Wexford tried hard they were unable to overcome the deficit.
In the closing period Limerick were reduced to 14 but the advantage came too late to have an impact on the result and the game ended in a morale crushing 8 point defeat for the home side.
Speaking afterwards, team manager Liam Dunne was candid in his assessment saying that Wexford were second best and that league promotion was gone from his side. He outlined that he and the team were devastated but he was focused on the 2nd of June and the opening Leinster Championship encounter with Offaly. Up next, Clare in Ennis next week, Clare are the pace setters in the Division but Dunne said he was relishing the encounter as his side needed the challenge and to test themselves.
Today was undoubtedly a setback for the Wexford hurlers but the failings that have been evident since the Antrim game remain – the easy concession of goals – and unless these are addressed Wexford will struggle to progress. Supporters are crying out for success but patience is required, once again Diarmuid O’Keeffe and Jack Guiney did well and will surely grow from the experience. Dunne and his management team will go back to the drawing board ,and the team will, as most of us enjoy a Bank Holiday Monday lie in, be in Wexford Park tomorrow morning reviewing what went wrong and working on getting it right for the trip to Clare next Sunday.
WEXFORD: N Breen; J Tonks, K Rossiter, B Kehoe; D Stamp, M O’Hanlon, C Kenny; H Kehoe (0-7, five frees, one 65), D Redmond (0-2); J Berry, E Quigley, PJ Nolan (0-1); R Jacob (0-1), S Banville (0-2), D O’Keeffe (0-2). Subs: J Guiney (0-3, two frees, one 65) for Berry (23); E Moore for Quigley (48); T O’Leary for Nolan (48 mins); J Leacy for Kehoe (64); P Morris for Banville (64 mins).
LIMERICK: N Quaid; S Walsh, R McCarthy, T Condon; W McNamara, D O’Grady, G O’Mahoney (0-1 free); P Browne (0-1), J Ryan; T O’Brien, C Allis (0-6, five frees), D Breen (1-2) ; G Mulcahy (0-3), N Moran (1-5), M Ryan (0-1). Subs: S Tobin for M Ryan (ht); N Maher (0-1) for O’Brien (56); T Ryan for Ryan (61).