“This is fantastic, a massive bonus for us,” enthused Ryan after he’d witnessed his side demolish score-shy Offaly by 14 points. He added: “Even if we won by a point, we would have been delighted. We haven’t won a game in Leinster since 2008. Wexford are resilient and have great fighting spirit.”
Wexford’s magnificent twin attacking threat of Ciarán Lyng and Ben Brosnan hit 1-13 between them. They ran Offaly ragged with Brosnan racking up seven points on his debut. Ryan hailed his performance as ‘brilliant’ and hit back at those who claimed his side would be toothless in attack following the retirement of Matty Forde.
“We’d a great mix of scorers which was satisfying. There has been so much written and said in the media generally, Matty Forde this and that. Matty is an exceptional man, an exceptional talent and we’d still love to have him but the reality is there are other players able to pop them over them over the bar. All we want is to see them do it more often.”
He continued: “We weren’t expecting to win by so much and I feel sorry for Offaly because they have worked so hard and they didn’t deserve that. The goals we scored and the goals they didn’t score was the story of the whole game.”
Ryan says Wexford are relishing their home quarter-final. “Westmeath will believe they can beat us and we’ll believe we can beat them. I don’t see home advantage as being a big factor. It wasn’t much of an advantage to Offaly.”
Wind assisted Wexford raced 0-3 to 0-1 clear courtesy of converted frees by Lyng and Brosnan. Then in the 13th minute Offaly were thrown an apparent lifeline as Sean Ryan was hauled down for a penalty, but top scorer Niall McNamee failed to convert. Nine minutes later a dreadful Richie Dalton pass was intercepted and Lyng blasted home Wexford’s first goal to surge seven points clear (1-6 to 0-2).
Offaly outscored Wexford 0-4 to 0-3 over the closing 14 minutes of the first half, with two exquisite McNamee points being the highlight, and the six-point margin (0-6 to 1-9) didn’t look insurmountable at the break.
However, aided by the elements, Offaly’s challenge collapsed and they added just a paltry two points during the concluding half — which must have horrified the members of Offaly’s 1961 All-Ireland final team who were honoured at the interval.
Wexford put the issue beyond doubt in the 53rd minute. Offaly ‘keeper Alan Mulhall advanced to save from Rory Quinlivan but was powerless to deny the unmarked Redmond Barry apply a poacher’s finish (2-11 to 0-7). Sub Ken Casey became only the second Offaly player to score from play from when he pointed in the 57th minute and Wexford eased to victory with further points from Brosnan, sub Adrian Morrissey and Lyng.
“No one took responsibility,” said Offaly boss Tom Cribbin. “We didn't do it at the crucial times. We had super opportunities for goals and we just didn't do it but everyone including myself and the whole team has to have a serious look at themselves.”
He continued: “When the questions were asked again we just didn’t deliver. It doesn’t make sense. We missed goal chances, missed a penalty but we just collapsed with 20 minutes to go. Obviously we are not mentally strong enough because it's nothing to do with fitness.”
Scorers for Offaly: N McNamee (0-4), B Allen (0-2 frees), N Dunne (0-1 free), K Casey (0-1).
Scorers for Wexford: C Lyng (1-6, 0-4 frees), B Brosnan (0-7, 0-3 frees & 0-1 ’45), R Barry (1-0), R Quinlivan (0-1), P Byrne (0-1), A Morrissey (0-1).
Subs for Offaly: T Deehan for Sullivan inj (35), N Darby for Dunne (48), K Casey for Allen (54), J Reynolds for Ryan (54), J Quinn for Lonergan (64).
Subs for Wexford: P Byrne for Roche (39), A Morrissey for Flynn (55), B Doyle for Bradley (55), L Óg McGovern for Morris (63), G Sunderland for Quinlivan inj (66).
Referee: Padraig O Suilleabhain, Kerry.