On a brutal Saturday evening, Wexford were comprehensive victors over Westmeath, but manager Liam Dunne admitted turning the Model County into contenders again will demand plenty of hard work.
“A win is a win and we are happy with the score too,” he said.
“It was nice to score 3-22 on a miserable, miserable evening. We are starting to get used to the conditions too. We played Offaly in the Leinster championship in a tsunami. We played Antrim in a challenge last week in a tsunami and we had another one in terrible conditions.
“It is a huge challenge for us and we are arguably down 10th or 11th in the pecking order. That is the reality. We are not going to cod anyone. We will get back, it will take a lot of hard work. What we must do is narrow the gap every year. If we do that every year we will make progress.
“We have Carlow next week and if we win that game we will have a crack at one of the big boys then. That is where we want to be. We would be hopeful of giving anybody a game, that is what we are aiming for. There is a long way to go, but we have to start somewhere.”
A Rory Jacob goal on the stroke of half-time put Wexford 1-13 to 0-6 ahead and further majors immediately after the restart from Diarmuid O’Keefe and Garrett Sinnott were decisive blows.
Westmeath did rally with goals from Brendan Murtagh (free) and Cormac Boyle but Wexford, with Diarmuid Lyng in splendid form, were never seriously troubled.
Lyng hopes Wexford can make progress: “A few years ago we seemed to have a great future ahead of us when we did well at U21 level and we beat Kilkenny in the Leinster SHC. We would have thought that things would be a lot better throughout our careers.
“Now some of us our in the twilight of our careers and we are aware of that. We want to be as true as we can to ourselves to see what we can achieve.”
Westmeath’s summer campaign ended but manager Brian Hanley is encouraged by the plucky displays delivered against Antrim, Galway and Wexford.
“The players are down, but I would give them great respect for what they have done in the last few months. We are at a crossroads again now. We were at the bottom of a hill last year, but we have got up to reasonable place where we have gained respect for Westmeath.”
Scorers for Wexford: D Lyng 0-15 (10fs), D O’Keefe 1-2, G Sinnott 1-1, R Jacob 1-0, D Redmond 0-2, PJ Nolan, H Kehoe 0-1 each.
Scorers for Westmeath: N O’Brien 0-5 (4fs), B Murtagh 1-1fs, C Boyle 1-0, F Boyle, J Shaw, R Greville 0-1 each.
Subs for Wexford: G Moore for Morris (43), E Quigley for H Kehoe (60), Shaun Murphy for Redmond (65), J Guiney for Jacob (65), Stephen Murphy for Stamp (67).
Subs for Westmeath: J Gilligan for E Price (36), A Dermody for Boyle (41), T Gallagher for P Fennell (45), D Fennell for A Clarke (45), C Boyle for R Greville (50).
Referee: C Lyons (Cork).