Liam Dunne’s men were rocked when, after just 29 minutes, they hadreturning full-back Tomas Waters dismissed on a straight red card for a pull back with his hurley when set to clear his lines. Wexford were leading by two points at that stage but quick-fire points from Paul Shiels, free, and Ciaran Clarke had the sides level, before Wexford finished the half with three unanswered points through David Redmond, Liam Óg McGovern and Diarmuid O’Keeffe to lead by three at the break.
Antrim were leading 1-4 to 0-5 after 14 minutes, the goal arriving on 13 minutes when midfielder Neil McManus found the unmarked Paul Shiels who finished splendidly to the corner of the net. It was the point-taking of Guiney along with Liam Óg McGovern that kept the home side in front and they went in leading 1-12 to 1-9 at the interval, McGovern finishing a well executed mover after 28 minutes with a low shot to the net.
Antrim struggled on the resumption despite their numerical advantage as Wexford through fine points from the outstanding Guiney, McGovern and Daithí Waters stretched into a 1-18 to 1-11 lead by the 47th minute. But it was Antrim who put in a huge effort picking off some excellent long range points before Clarke’s goal seven minutes from the end put them into a 2-19 to 1-21 lead, with seven minutes remaining.
But it was Wexford who snatched victory through sub Harry Kehoe’s point one minute from the end from what was an absorbing second 35 minutes.
But the wake-up call that was not lost on manager Dunne: “In the end we were pleased with the two points. We won the game twice, handed it back to them, but then again one has to give credit to Antrim.”
Antrim manager Kevin Ryan expressed both satisfaction and disappointment: “We’re disappointed to lose but happy with the effort and the manner the players dug in. We are disappointed we did not get a result, for we played some fine hurling midway through the second half, kept plugging away.”
Wexford scorers: J Guiney 0-9, 5 frees, L Og McGovern 1-3, D Waters 0-3, L Chin, I Byrne, D O’Keeffe 0-2 each, D Redmond, H Kehoe, P Morris, 0-1 each.
Antrim scorers: P Shiels 1-6, 0-6 frees, C Clarke 1-4, N McManus 0-3, D McKernan 0-2, A Graffan, M Bradley, C Carson, C McCann, P J O’Connell 0-1 each.
WEXFORD: M Fanning; E Moore, T Waters, C Kenny; P Foley, L Chin, D Redmond; P Morris, G Sinnott; I Byrne, D Waters, D O’Keeffe; K Foley, J Guiney, L Óg McGovern.
Subs: H Kehoe for Morris (48 mins); S Tomkins for Sinnott (59); J Kelly for Foley (60); R Kehoe for Byrne (65); L Ryan for H Kehoe (inj. 70).
ANTRIM: C O’Connell; R McCambridge, N McAuley, A Graffin; T McCann, C McKinley, M Bradley; N McManus, C Johnson; P Shiels, D McKernan, C McCann; C Clarke, P J O’Connell, E McCloskey.
Subs: S McCrory for C McCann (ht); E Campbell for T McCann (ht); M Donnelly for McCloskey (ht); C Carson for McKernan (55); S McAfee for Shiels (inj. 68).
Referee: C McAllister (Cork).