The result may have come as a surprise to the bookmakers but those who have been following the remarkable progress of this Tipperary team under the softly-spoken Creedon won’t have been taken aback.
Quietly methodical, Creedon was ratified as team manager at the end of March, following the resignation of Kerry native John Evans.
Tipp had come a long way under Evans but there were obvious signs that the relationship had gone stale.
Cork native Creedon came in and rekindled the spark. He got the team competitive for a Munster quarter-final against Kerry and there was no disgrace whatsoever in a six-point defeat. But the qualifiers have seen Tipp rise to a whole new level. Offaly were seen off with minimum fuss before Wexford were dumped out of the championship just a fortnight after rocking All-Ireland champions Dublin at Croke Park.
Tipp have now won two senior football championship matches in the one season for the first time since 2003 and march on to the third round of the qualifiers.
For Wexford, the post-mortems have begun and manager Jason Ryan will consider his position after five years at the helm.
Creedon smiled: “It was a great result – we played some really good football. I’m thrilled that we held on for the one-point win as I thought we should have been further ahead at half-time.”
They led by three, 1-6 to 0-6, at the break but Wexford goalkeeper Anthony Masterson was busy, denying Philip Austin and Richie Ryan with smart saves. At the other end, Tipp netminder Paul Fitzgerald was playing his part too, safe as houses under the high ball and rushing from his line to keep out PJ Banville’s fisted effort. Tipp’s goal, in the 14th minute, was a quite remarkable effort from Donagh Leahy. After taking a pass from Philip Austin, Leahy was dumped on his backside close to goal. He looked to have been fouled but the whistle never blew and a grounded Leahy instead swung a left boot at the ball and sent it flying past Masterson. That score helped Tipp lead by 1-6 to 0-2 ten minutes before half-time, but that seven-point advantage was down to three at the midway point. A brace of scores after the break saw Tipp move five clear again but then Wexford woke up with another run of four unanswered points. Tipp were rocking and Wexford were level in the 54th minute when Shane Roche popped over a free. A betting man would have piled in on the Slaneysiders but instead, Tipp rallied.
“When Wexford came at us in the second half, in fairness to our lads they got the couple of scores that got us going again,” Creedon added. “I give credit to young Michael (Quinlivan) and a lot of the forwards, Brian Fox kicked a great score when it was needed. It kept the scoreboard ticking over. We got to 16 points and that is what I thought we would need to win it.”
From the start, Quinlivan displayed a maturity to defy his age. The 19-year-old led from the front, kicking three of his four points from play. And in the closing 15 minutes, Fox was immense, driving forward for two magnificent scores. Having been pegged back, Tipp led by two points three times before the end. On each occasion, that advantage was halved by Wexford but they couldn’t restore parity again. And when Wexford sub Ben Brosnan sent a shot wide in stoppage time, the game was up.
Scorers for Wexford: S Roche 0-5 (3f), R Barry 0-4 (3f, 1 45), PJ Banville 0-3, C Lyng 0-2, B Brosnan 0-1.
Scorers for Tipperary: M Quinlivan 0-4 (1f), D Leahy 1-0, P Austin, B Fox & A Maloney (2f) 0-2 each, A Campbell, H Coghlan & P Acheson 0-1 each.
Subs for Wexford: P Byrne 6 for C Carty (44), B Brosnan 6 for Morris (44), E Bradley 5 for Roche (60), N Murphy for Doyle (70).
Subs for Tipperary: A Maloney 7 for Mulvihill (35), S Scully 5 for Ryan (51), A Matassa for Scully (65), B Mulvihill for Austin (66), L Egan for Quinlivan (70).
Referee: Michael Duffy (Sligo).