By Michael Moynihan
Wexford had a shade too much for Galway in this NHL quarter-final, edging out the All Ireland champions by a goal.
Wexford had Shaun Murphy sweeping but both sides were wayward in their shooting early on, the score 0-2 each on ten minutes.
Lee Chin, a late replacement for Cathal Dunbar, began to drive Wexford, who took a two point lead, but Galway soon pulled it back through Joes Cooney and Canning, and were just two fluffed pick-ups away from a pair of goal chances.
By the 25th minute two Rory O’Connor frees and Diarmuid O’Keeffe made it a three-point game, only for Johnny Coen and Conor Whelan reduce that lead to one two minutes later, 0-8 to 0-7, with Cathal Mannion leveling on 29 minutes and restoring Galway’s lead with his second soon afterward.
On 32 minutes Wexford struck, Rory O’Connor going for goal from distance: James Skehill saved well but Conor McDonald buried the rebound, and Chin’s point from the puck-out made it 1-9 to 0-9.
A Canning free and 65 before the break cut Wexford’s lead to one, however, 0-11 to 1-9.
Galway hit three points in the opening three minutes of the second half but Wexford tied it up with Paudie Foley (free) and the impressive Jack O’Connor, 1-11 to 0-14 and another massive Foley free gave them the lead.
Wexford points either side of a Canning free kept the home side ahead, 1-14 to 0-15 on 45 minutes, and the southeasterners kept their noses in front, responding with long-range strikes to Joe Canning’s frees.
Galway’s Jack Coyne got a straight red on 52 minutes with the score 0-18 to 1-16, and another Paudie Foley point made the margin two.
Sub Jason Flynn and Whelan leveled the game with ten minutes left but Rory O’Connor hit two points to push Wexford ahead.
With five left Canning’s free made it a one-point game but sub Harry Kehoe hit a point with his first possession, a two-point gap. Canning cut that to the minimum going into injury time but Rory O’Connor responded.
Whelan pointed but Kehoe struck again and a McDonald point made it safe for the home side. Canning’s late free was saved and Wexford made it.
Scorers for Wexford: R. O’Connor (4 frees)(0-6); P. Foley (3 frees)(0-5); C. McDonald (1-1); D. O’Keeffe (0-3); L. Chin (1 free), H. Kehoe, K. Foley (0-2 each); J. O’Connor, L. Ryan (0-1 each).
Scorers for Galway: J. Canning (1 65, frees)(0-10); C. Whelan (0-5); C. Mannion, J. Coen (0-3 each); J. Flynn, J. Cooney, (0-1 each).
WEXFORD: M. Fanning, D. Reck, L. Ryan, S. Donohue, P. Foley, M. O’Hanlon (c), D. O’Keeffe, K. Foley, S. Murphy, J. O’Connor, C. McDonald, P. Morris, L. Chin, R. O’Connor, D. Dunne.
Subs: W. Devereux for Reck (inj, 14); A. Nolan for Dunne (53); H. Kehoe for J. O’Connor and C. Dunbar for Morris (both 68).
GALWAY: J. Skehill, A. Tuohy, J. Hanbury, P. Mannion, J. Grealish, G. McInerney, A. Harte, J. Coen, D. Burke (c), C. Mannion, J. Canning, J. Cooney, C. Whelan, C. Cooney, J. Coyne.
Subs: J. Flynn for Burke (57); B. Concannon for J. Cooney (69)
Referee: F. Horgan (Tipperary).