The vibrant attacking force of the Wexford u21’s shaded a developing Westmeath side at Wexford Park on Sunday last.
The opening half unfolded as a lively affair with Wexford’s Jack Hobbs’ efficient use of possession setting up Dean Wright for an elegant point. After Westmeath’s Niall O’Brien notched his side’s first score with a free, Lee Chin weaved through the maroon defence to blast the ball to the top left-hand corner of the net with just two minutes gone. The indiscipline of Wexford gave ample opportunity for Niall O’Brien to keep the visitor’s in contention from the placed ball. However, the diligence of the Wexford defence acted as the catalyst to a trio of purple-and-gold points between Conor O’Leary, Jack Hobbs and Jack Guiney. (1-4 to 0-5). A 20 metre free from Guiney was deflected by the defiant Westmeath back-line in the 15th minute. After the Rathnure clubman traded points with Robbie Greville, Niall O’Brien planted the ball in the Wexford net to put his side ahead for the first time on 19 minutes. A further exchange of points between Westmeath no.14 Niall Leonard and Ferns’ Ian Byrne meant that the Slaneysider’s disappointingly trailed at the break by the minimum (1-7 to 1-6).
In spite of a litany of missed scoring chances, Wexford recovered in the latter half to show signs of sparkling creativity. In the 36th minute, Gary Moore held the crowd in awe when he slotted a line-ball over the ‘bar. A flurry of five points for Wexford between the 37th and 45th minute from Ian Byrne (2), Conor O’Leary, Jack Hobbs and Rhys Clarke gave JJ Doyle’s side the confidence to power to victory as they led at the end of that spell by two points. While a late Westmeath attack had to be repulsed by Eoin Conroy, Jack Guiney (2) and Gary Moore points assured Wexford of the opening round spoil’s.
Garret Foley, Jack Hobbs and Gary Moore were exemplary for Wexford. Building on this display, they’ll be worthy of colourful support in their next clash against Dublin/Carlow on June 26.
WEXFORD: Brian Murphy (Shelmaliers), Garret Foley (Fethard), Shane O’Gorman (Adamstown), Eoin Conroy (Naomh Éanna), Dermot O’Leary (St. Patrick’s), Andrew Kenny (Buffers Alley), Colm Heffernan (Faythe Harriers), Conor O’Leary (Oulart-The Ballagh), Jack Hobbs (Ballygarrett 0-2), Dean Wright (Blackwater 0-1), Lee Chin (Faythe Harriers 1-0), Ian Byrne (Ferns-St. Aidan’s 0-3 2 frees 1 65′), Barry Carton (Cloughbawn), Jack Guiney (Rathnure 0-4 2 frees), Gary Moore (Glynn-Barntown 0-2 1 lineball). SUB’s. Rhys Clarke (0-1) for Dean Wright, Niall Murphy for Ian Byrne.
Westmeath scorer’s: Niall O’Brien (1-7 1-6 frees), Niall Leonard (0-2), Robbie Greville (0-1).
Report by Michael Dwyer