Yet, for the greater part of the contest they looked more likely to win until the outstanding free-taking of Paul Carley had Wexford in front for the first time in the 68th minute. After that, their greater momentum propelled them to a deserved success.
It could be argued that Tipperary paid the price for two early goal misses - the first from a penalty in the 5th minute after centre-back Darren Stamp was yellow-carded; that they lost their way at a crucial stage, and that the visitors gained their authority after impressive centre-back David Kennedy was surprisingly withdrawn. But, in essence, it was all down to Wexford's grater hunger and ball-winning ability when it mattered most.
New manager Seamus Murphy attributed it to the team's spirit and high work-rate - pointing out that this was what the new selectors had asked of the panel when they took over. And, he acknowledged that Carley's 'unbelievable' free-taking had been hugely significant - especially as he has been carrying a shoulder injury.
While Hogan accepted that Tipp had the winning of the game, he didn't question the merit of Wexford's victory - pointing out that towards the end of the game Tipp didn't win enough ball in the half-forward line and came under a lot of pressure in the half-back line. Without directly criticising Sean McMahon's handling of the game, he remarked that some referees used common sense while others worked 'to the letter of the law.' However, he stated that three players had been sent off 'for doing nothing,' while one of their players received a blow to the face 'and it wasn't picked up at all!'
The first half was a drab affair, characterised by some very weak play on both sides and highlighted by poor attempts at scores. Starting without goalkeeper Brendan Cummins (ankle injury) and Eamonn Corcoran, Tipp went two points clear before the dismissal of Darren Stamp (for a clear pulling-down offence) presented them with a penalty which Evan Sweeney hit harmlessly wide. Scores were level three times over the opening 25 minutes, with Carley, Redmond Barry and Michael Jacob to the forefront in the Wexford attack. Twice in the space of a minute two players were yellow-carded, Wexford wing-back Diarmuid Lyng and Tipp full-back Philip Maher - who showed his disgust by throwing his helmet to the sideline as he walked off.
In Maher's absence, John Devane filled in well, while Corcoran's replacement Hugh Moloney and substitute Tom King at midfield were also to do well later in the game. Sweeney missed another second goal chance (from play) before Paddy O'Brien set up Mark O'Leary for an opportunity he took convincingly and it had Tipp 1-8 to 0-6 in front at the break.
The third quarter proved more entertaining, with Tipperary livelier and looking sharper. Interestingly, Wexford remained quite competitive because they coped well in defence - with Keith Rossiter and Declan Ruth particularly steady - and David O'Brien got in a lot of work around midfield. However, while Jacob and Barry (who got a goal immediately after the resumption) were both prominent, it was the immaculate striking of Carley which kept them so strongly in contention. And, that was after they had fallen six points behind after only five minutes of the second half.
O'Leary was effective on the wing for Tipp while dual player Michael Webster became more of a threat as the game developed. Wexford's prospects improved greatly after Nigel Higgins scored an excellent goal in the 46th minute. It set the scene for a closing quarter which produced the best hurling of the game and with just over five minutes of normal time remaining, scores were tied at 2-14 each
O'Leary put Tipp back in front before Carley levelled again. Then man-of-the-match Carley put over a 65 to inspire a powerful rally and it proved too much for the home side.
*Sean McMahon's applied the experimental rules rigidly, although one or two players got off lightly. In general, however, he did well.
: Wexford: P. Carley 0-11 (0-7 frees, 0-1 '65); R. Barry 1-3; N. Higgins 1-0; M. Jacob 0-3; D. Mythen 0-2. Tipperary: M. O'Leary 1-2; E. Sweeney 1-1; M. Webster 0-3; P. O'Brien 0-3 frees; F. Devenney 0-2; B. Dunne, T. Slevin, C. Morrissey and T. King 0-1 each.
: D. Fitzhenry; C. Kehoe, D. Ruth, K. Rossiter; M. Travers, D. Stamp, D. Lyng; E. Quigley, D. O'Brien ;P. Carley, W. Doran, N. Higgins; M. Jacob, R. Barry, D. Mythen. Subs: R. McCarthy for Kehoe (second half); M.J. Furlong for Quigley (64th).
: J. O'Connor for Stamp (5th minute); B. Lambert for Lyng (20th); C. McGrath for Mythen (73rd).
: D. Young; M. Maher, P. Maher, P. Curran; D. Fanning, D. Kennedy, H. Moloney; C. Morrissey, T. Slevin; M. O'Leary, F. Devanney, B. Dunne; E. Stewart, M. Webster, P. O'Brien. Subs: T. King for Morrissey (injured 32nd minute). D. Fitzgerald for Slevin (injured, 46th); E. Kelly for Kennedy (54th); S. Butler for Sweeney (65th).
: J. Devane for P. Maher (21st).
: S. McMahon (Clare).