Cork 3-24 Wexford 1-17
Favourites Cork advanced to the All-Ireland Senior Hurling Championship quarter-finals as they overcame Wexford at Thurles this afternoon.
While 10 points separated the sides at the end, as last week against Galway, Cork did not have things all their own way until a late scoring burst opened up more daylight between the teams.
What will please Cork and manager Jimmy Barry-Murphy is that they managed to find the net on three occasions, having only scored one goal in their previous two championship matches.
By the same token, though, this win should have been easier than it was, as cheap wides in the first half meant only a two-point half-time lead despite the goals, with the Wexford forwards, and Diarmuid Lyng and Rory Jacob in particular, causing problems for the Rebels’ defence.
Though their year is over, Wexford can take heart from the fact that they were well in the game for long periods and their young team will benefit from the experience.
While a subdued opening 13 minutes provided just four equally-shared points, the game burst into life when Luke O’Farrell showed a great burst of pace to lose marker Matthew O’Hanlon as he made his way in along the endline before firing past Éanna Martin from a tight angle.
Immediately, however, Wexford had answered that as blood sub Shaun Murphy intercepted a loose Lorcán McLoughlin pass and found Diarmuid Lyng, who blasted past Anthony Nash to make it 1-2 each.
After Niall McCarthy and Lyng exchanged points, O’Farrell struck again, touch a Patrick Horgan delivery past Martin, and though Harry Kehoe responded, Cork got their third goal when goalkeeper Anthony Nash drilled a penalty home after O’Farrell had been fouled.
Those green flags gave Cork a cushion, but Wexford did not let them out of their sight too easily and they were back to within three points, 3-4 to 1-7, after a superb Lyng sideline cut from the 65.
The Model County had other goal chances too, but Nash saved from Eoin Quigley and Eoin Cadogan did enough to deny Kehoe.
The last three points of the half all went the Leinster county’s way, though, as Jack Guiney (two) and Garrett Sinnott pointed to leave it 3-7 to 1-11 at the break.
Early second-half points from Nash (a long-range free) and Niall McCarthy suggested that Cork might pull away, but Sinnott and Guiney were again on target to cancel that out.
Though Cork would score six of the next eight points to open up a six-point advantage, 3-15 to 1-15, with 15 minutes left, things might have been different had Lyng’s goal effort on 53 snuck past Nash rather than rattling the side-netting.
Cork had begun to pick holes more easily in the Wexford defence now, with Niall McCarthy continuing to impress while Cronin was doing a good job at midfield and Paudie O’Sullivan came more into the game.
The outcome could have been secured had Conor Lehane availed of the goal chance that was on after his Midleton clubmate O’Farrell set him up, but instead he shot over, and Wexford always remained within touching distance.
Jacob’s third point of the game left them five behind, 3-16 to 1-17, but if they were to take anything from the game they needed goals. David Redmond had an attempt with 10 minutes remaining but Nash saved comfortably.
When O’Sullivan smartly pointed soon after that, Cork’s lead was seven and a collapse looked unlikely, a late Garrett Sinnott goal for Wexford notwithstanding while Redmond was sent off late on for a second booking.
Cork: L O’Farrell 2-2, P Horgan 0-7 (0-5f), N McCarthy 0-4, A Nash 1-1 (1-0 penalty, 0-1f), C Lehane, P O’Sullivan, J Coughlan (0-1f), P Cronin 0-2 each, C Naughton, L McLoughlin, 0-1 each.
Wexford: D Lyng 1-3 (0-2 sideline, 0-1f), J Guiney 0-5 (0-2f, 0-1 65), G Sinnott 1-2, R Jacob 0-3, H Kehoe 0-2, L Óg McGovern, D Redmond 0-1 each.
CORK: A Nash; S O’Neill, D Cahalane, B Murphy; T Kenny, E Cadogan, W Egan (S Óg Ó hAilpín 62); L McLoughlin (D Sweetnam 49), P Cronin; C Lehane (C Naughton 59), C McCarthy (S Moylan 70), N McCarthy (J Coughlan 66); P O’Sullivan, L O’Farrell, P Horgan.
WEXFORD: É Martin; K Rossiter, M O’Hanlon, E Moore; R Kehoe, D Stamp, C Kenny; E Quigley (S Murphy, blood 13-19; S Banville 67)), D Redmond; G Sinnott, H Kehoe (L Óg McGovern 43), D Lyng; P Morris (S Murphy 61), R Jacob, J Guiney (S Murphy, blood 51-52).
Referee: J Ryan (Tipperary).