Dunne delights in Wexford grit

Wexford 2-21 Antrim 1-12
Wexford manager Liam Dunne placed real satisfaction on his side’s second-half performance as they dominated Antrim in an impressive 12-point victory in this Allianz Division 1B Hurling League game at Wexford Park on Saturday.

Having led by four points at the interval, Wexford put together a fine second-half, outscoring the visitors 1-8 to 0-3, Antrim’s three points coming from Neil McManus frees.

Six days earlier Wexford allowed Offaly to slip in for two points with a late rally, but there was no relaxation on this time for Dunne’s charges as their second half control was such their winning margin could have even been greater.

“That was the one thing different,” he said. “Last week we built a lead but did not push on and got caught in the closing stages. This time we responded in the second half. There was to be no disappointment this time round. Rory Jacob got the goal within 30 seconds of the restart which set us up. Basically, we kept on hurling, for we decided at half-time that we were going to get stuck in, go for the early scores.

“We won most of the outfield possession, won almost every ball in the middle of the park and we got the scores. We possibly could have pushed on for more scores but at the start if anyone would have said we would win by 12 points we would have taken it,” said Dunne.

Antrim Manager Kevin Ryan was at a loss to explain his side’s showing.

“We played some fine hurling through the opening half, could have had a couple of more goals with a little luck.

“We would have liked to have gone in with a half-time lead, but their goal within 30 seconds of the restart changed the whole course of the game. It was disappointing to see we failed to score from play in the second half. With each game the stakes are getting higher and we just have to push on in the relegation fight.”

While this was expected to be a searching test for Antrim, they opened impressively, taking the game to the home side after falling behind to a third minute Rory Jacob point. Thirty seconds later Shane McNaughton brought the sides level.

There was a real flow to the game and Antrim got a rather fortuitous goal just eight minutes into the game. Wexford keeper Mark Fanning caught a long Neil McManus delivery but delayed his clearance and the inrushing Shane Casey, who came in as a late replacement, got in the block to give his side a 1-2 to 0-2 lead.

However, Wexford responded with a David Redmond 27th minute goal that helped them to a 1-13 to 1-9 interval lead.

Rory Jacob was in irrepressible form in the home attack with some searching running and within 11 seconds of the restart he cut inside the Antrim defence to blaze a shot high into the net to give his side a 2-14 to 1-9 lead, leaving the visitors with a huge task to take anything from the game. But all they could manage in reply was three Neil McManus pointed frees.

Scorers for Wexford: R Jacob 1-5, P Morris 0-6 (0-1 f, 0-1 65), D Redmond 1-2, G Sinnott 0-3, E Quigley 0-2, H Kehoe, G Moore, E Martin 0-1 each.

Scorers for Antrim: N McManus 0-6 (0-5 f), S Casey 1-0, S McCrory, N McAuley, C Laverty, P Shiels, S McNaughton, T McCloskey 0-1 each.

WEXFORD: M Fanning; B Kenny, A Shore, E Doyle; J Tonks, R Kehoe, L Chin; D Redmond, H Kehoe; C O’Shaughnessy, E Quigley, G Sinnott; P Morris, P Doran, R Jacob.

Subs: P J Nolan for O’Shaughnessy (19), G Moore for Doran (ht), C Kenny for H Kehoe (inj. 37), Stephen Murphy for Nolan (63), E Martin for Doyle.

ANTRIM: R McGarry; A Graffin, C Carson, M McFadden; S McCrory, N McAuley, C McKinley; M Donnelly, C Laverty; P Shiels, S Beatty, C McFall; N McManus, S Casey, S McNaughton.

Subs: D Hamill for McFall (26), T McCloskey for Laverty (26), J McGreevey for Carson (ht), D McCleane for Casey (43), B McCarry for Donnelly (62).

Referee: A Stapleton (Laois).

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