Wexford 2-16 Carlow 0-20
There was precious little comfort for Wexford on home turf as Carlow gave them a huge scare in tonight's All-Ireland SHC first phase qualifier at Wexford Park.
Wexford needed their bench to rescue them from a shock defeat as substitute David Redmond's 58th-minute goal gave them the momentum to shake off Carlow's supremely committed challenge.
It was a much closer affair than last year when Wexford won by 10 points in the qualifiers and Carlow manager John Meyler, who previously managed the Model men, had his troops primed for a 70-minute display.
Meyler has spoken in the build-up of his annoyance with the Championship scheduling as his side had been idle since losing to Laois on June 2, while Wexford had played three Championship games in as many weeks.
But early on it looked liked Carlow, backed by the breeze, had been the busier of the teams in recent weeks. David English, a stellar contributor from midfield alongside Jack Kavanagh, got them off the mark from a first minute free.
Carlow showed impressive composure to stay in front despite Wexford responding through Jack Guiney and Rory Jacob and the hosts had a terrific individual goal from Podge Doran who rifled home a powerful shot after collecting a long pass from Guiney and beating his marker.
Doran's goal from an acute angle got Wexford back level at 0-5 to 1-2, only for Carlow to up it in attack with John Michael Nolan, Craig Doyle and the increasingly influential Jack Kavanagh rattling off successive points.
Guiney kept the scoreboard ticking over for Wexford with some well-taken frees late in the half, but Carlow - thanks to further scores from English and Andrew Gaule - took a 0-13 to 1-6 lead into the break.
There was no sign of Carlow letting up on the resumption as English cancelled out a score from Wexford captain Garrett Sinnott, and Meyler's charges pressed on with Eddie Byrne and English adding two more white flags.
But Carlow lacked a goal-scoring threat and as many visiting sides have found out to their cost at Wexford Park over the years, the hosts have a knack of finding the net when it matters most.
Just on the hour mark, Redmond pounced for his goal and subsequent points from Jacob and the ever accurate Guiney gave Liam Dunne's outfit a sudden three-point advantage.
It was not a deserved one and Carlow showed no signs of flagging as English replied with two frees, taking his own tally to 0-10, and busy wing forward Sean Murphy added another point from play to level it at 0-20 to 2-14.
With just under five minutes left it was all to play for and perhaps Wexford's greater experience of tight Championship matches helped them get over the finish line.
It took a point from wing back Ciaran Kenny to settle their nerves and Guiney, launching over a final free to match English's personal haul, made sure this entertaining Leinster derby ended in Wexford's favour.
WEXFORD: M Fanning; E Moore, T Waters, B Kenny; R Kehoe, M O'Regan, C Kenny (0-1); H Kehoe, Shaun Murphy; J Guiney (0-10, 0-9f), G Sinnott (0-1), L Chin; P Morris, R Jacob (0-2), P Doran (1-0).
Subs used: D Redmond (1-0) for Murphy (31 mins), J Tonks for Regan (41), E Quigley (0-1) for H Kehoe (42), G Moore for Morris (57), C O'Shaughnessy for Chin (62).
CARLOW: F Foley; C McCabe, E Nolan, H P Byrne; D Byrne, R Coady (0-1), E Coady; J Kavanagh (0-1), D English (0-10, 0-9f); E Byrne (0-1), M Brennan (0-1), S Murphy (0-1); C Doyle (0-2), J M Nolan (0-2), A Gaule (0-1).
Subs used: M Kavanagh for Gaule (41 mins), J Doyle for Nolan (55).
Referee: Alan Kelly (Galway)