Slaneyside steel brings final glory

CIARAN Lyng’s 52nd minute goal was crucial in Nowlan Park on Saturday, but essentially it was the excellence of the Wexford backs which earned them the All-Ireland IHC title for the fifth time.

The Model County defence was what kept them in contention throughout a determined second-half performance blighted only by some terrible wides. And, when Lyng’s score put them a point clear, they needed to be very solid at the back to hold out for victory.

It was another disappointing outcome for Waterford following the heartbreak of their seniors’ unexpected defeat two weeks ago, but it came as a welcome bonus for Wexford whose loyal followers had even less to cheer about this season. And, it certainly meant a lot to manager John Meyler.

Waterford paid a high cost for wastage of possession over the opening 20 minutes, when they enjoyed a wind advantage and penetrated much more. It was the reason why they were only level at the end of this period despite having got a goal (through Conor Carey) in the eighth minute.

That score put them three points clear until the Leinster champions had wiped out the deficit in a matter of minutes before going two points ahead courtesy of two well-take frees from Pat Doran (son of legendary full-forward Tony). By the time Waterford had hit back with a pointed free from Shane Casey and a terrific Mike Molumphy score, they had run up six wides.

Additionally, they had produced good moves which came to nothing because of a lack of cohesion and the strength of Wexford’s cover. Notably, full-back Bobby Kenny was very competitive against Shane Casey, who hit 3-5 in the opening round against Limerick.

All of this was discouraging for the Waterford defence, which was also doing very well under pressure, with Laurence Prendergast one of their more consistent players at left-half along with midfielder Redmond Barry. However, very often the delivery of the ball from outfield players was of little assistance to the forwards.

There was, however, an improvement in Waterford’s play in the 10 minutes before half-time, with Pat Fitzgerald and Mike Molumphy on the wing prominent and Stephen Barron promising after he went to full forward. The end result was that they were in front at half time, 1-6 to 0-8, though their play merited a bigger margin.

Not unexpectedly, Wexford experienced difficulty in maximising possession in attack once they had they wind to their backs, all the more so when the Waterford backs were very dependable under pressure. And, for most of the third quarter the Déise looked better balanced, with substitute Davy Power boosting them with a terrific 39th-minute point from a sideline ball.

After that, Wexford started to accumulate wides too (finishing with 10), and they needed the encouragement of a point from Doran (his only one from play) nearing the three-quarters stage.

Waterford were hit by the loss of Mike Molumphy through injury, while Wexford started to win more ball around midfield through Redmond Barry and David Redmond. The problem was they weren’t putting scores on the board.

The game still looked wide open after substitute Nickey Jacob hit over a great Waterford score to stretch their lead to two points, but immediately afterwards Lyng had the ball in the net.

Psychologically, it was just what Wexford needed to raise their standard. Lucky not to concede a goal when corner-forward Pa Kearney just failed to connect with a high ball, they went two points clear before a Casey score gave Waterford hope. After that, a marvellous high catch from centre-back Brian Malone denied Waterford the opportunity of a late score. And in injury time a Doran ‘65 ensured victory.

Scorers: Wexford: P. Doran (0-6 (0-4f, 0-1 ‘65); C. Lyng (1-0); J. Breen (0-2); D. Redmond, R. Barry and J. Roche (0-1 each). Waterford: C. Carey (1-0); S. Casey (0-3 (0-1 free); M. Molumphy, P. Fitzgerald, G. Power, S. Barron. D. Power and N. Jacob (0-1 each).

WEXFORD: D. Flynn; C. Lawler, R. Kenny, D. Morton; J. O’Connor (capt.), B. Malone, L. Prendergast; R. Barry, D. Redmond; J. Roche, J. Breen, P. Doran; N. Kirwan, S. Banville, C. Lyng.

Subs: E. Martin for Kirwan (25m); B. O’Connor for Breen (36); C. O’Connor for Martin (56); A. Kavanagh for Banville (60).

WATERFORD: I. O’Regan; B. Wall, J. O’Leary, T. Molumphy; K. Stafford, S. Kearney (capt.), W. Hutchinson; G. Power, E. Bennett; P. Fitzgerald, C. Carey, M. Molumphy; P. Kearney, S. Casey, S. Barron.

Subs: D. Power for Bennett (26); N. Jacob for Carey (half-time; J. Hartley for M. Molumphy (injured, 43); R. Foley for Power (56).

Referee: E. Morris (Dublin). * Eamonn Morris did a good job of refereeing.

* Attendance: 4,625.

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