John Allen’s Limerick appeared to have lost their unbeaten record when Wexford struck two goals in the final 10 minutes but O’Brien’s late equaliser snatched a share of the points for the home side at the Gaelic Grounds.
Regardless of the result Limerick had already booked their place in the Division 1B final against Dublin, but the late scores ensure they remain unbeaten. With nothing to play for, Limerick used the game to give a run to fringe players.
“It meant we could try out fellas. It was a learning curve but I am still glad we didn’t lose it at the end,” said Limerick manager John Allen.
“They are all working equally hard so it’s good to see lads playing and some put up their hands and said look at me.”
Allen again hit out at the current league structures.
“The way the league is structured is wrong — we are just marginalising teams,” he said.
Played in front of a small attendance, the teams were level on seven occasions in the opening half. However Limerick brought a 1-9 to 0-10 lead into the interval.
There was nothing to separate the teams until Adrian Breen goaled in the 28th minute, when he pulled first time after a James Ryan delivery evaded all in the full-back line, to put his side 1-7 to 0-8 clear.
Conor Allis and Kevin Downes had the pick of the scores for Limerick in the opening half, while Wexford were left to rue nine wides and relied on free-takers Eanna Martin and Paul Morris for many scores.
On the change of ends the Breen goal continued the divide the teams for long periods. Points from Lee Chin and Rory Jacob kept Wexford in touch but Shane Dowling maintained Limerick’s advantage, 1-17 to 0-15, entering the final quarter.
Then came the late Wexford rally.
Firstly, Garrett Sinnott goaled when he collected a clever short from Morris.
Then, in the final minute, Eoin Quigley got the final touch in a crowded goalmouth to put Wexford ahead for the first time since the 26th minute.
But O’Brien was to have the final say with the equaliser in the second minute of injury-time.
Scorers for Limerick: S Dowling 0-8 (5fs), A Breen 1-1, K Downes 0-3, C Allis 0-2, J Ryan, P Ahern, N Moran, S Tobin, P O’Brien 0-1 each.
Scorers for Wexford: P Morris 0-5 (3fs), E Quigley, G Sinnott 1-1 each, R Jacob, E Martin (2 65, 1f) 0-3 each, L Chin 0-2, D Redmond 0-1.
LIMERICK: A Murphy; A Dempsey, R McCarthy, M Carmody; C King, W McNamara, T Ryan; J Ryan, C Allis; S Dowling, P Ahern, N Moran; S Tobin, T Quaid, A Breen.
Subs: K Downes for Quaid (17), S Walsh for Dempsey, P O’Brien for McNamara, Browne for J Ryan (all ht), G Mulcahy for Breen (62).
WEXFORD: M Fanning; B Kenny, T Waters, C Kenny; R Kehoe, A Shore, E Martin; E Quigley, H Kehoe; G Sinnott, L Chin, D Redmond; G Moore, P Morris, R Jacob.
Subs: Shaun Murphy for Moore (50).
Referee: D Kirwan (Cork).