Four second-half goals helped Wexford to a 12-point win over Laois in O’Moore Park.
The win sees Wexford move up to second in AHL
Division 1B and after Limerick’s surprise loss to Offaly on Saturday, sets up a winner-takes-all clash with Waterford next Sunday in Wexford Park.
Wexford certainly got their eye in for that encounter here in this high-scoring affair, with 52 scores over the 70 minutes, with goals swinging the game in the visitors’ favour.
Their first arrived in the fifth minute, when Liam Óg McGovern raced through and got his shot away before Cahir Healy could close him down, the ball nestling in the bottom corner.
Laois responded well, with Cha Dwyer firing over a lovely point from the right wing to leave the score 1-2 to 0-2 in the early stages. With the hosts enjoying wind advantage, Wexford had to be the happier of the two teams, and a point from Diarmuid O’Keeffe pushed them four ahead.
Ross King quickly cancelled that out for Laois with a nice score from distance, but points from Ian Byrne and Harry Kehoe kept the Model men on the front foot.
They were holding that four-point lead until midway through the half, when Laois rattled off three unanswered points from Patrick Whelan, Cha Dwyer and Paddy Purcell.
In what was a recurring theme throughout the game, it was Ian Byrne who hit back for Wexford. He pointed twice, either side of a Zane Keenan score for Laois, to edge Wexford two ahead.
Laois were building momentum now, however, and the put another run of three points together to take the lead. PJ Scully started the sequence, Willie Hyland then drew them level and Paddy Purcell scored from 25 yards as Laois hit the front for the first time.
But late points from Ian Byrne (free) and Conor McDonald saw Wexford head to the dressing room 1-11 to 0-13 to the good.
The home side couldn’t have had a worse start to the second half, as they conceded a goal seconds after the restart. Conor McDonald launched a long ball which Laois goalkeeper Eoin O’Reilly misjudged and fumbled it over the line.
To Laois’s credit, they hit back quickly thanks to points from Willie Hyland and a sideline cut from PJ Scully but they conceded again moments later. An incisive Wexford move ended with David Redmond firing to the net from close range,
Both teams traded points over the next ten minutes, but the game was all but wrapped up in a two-minute spell when Podge Doran and Conor McDonald brought Wexford’s goal count up to five.
Scorers for Wexford: Ian Byrne 0-15 (0-11f, 0-1 65), Conor McDonald 2-2, David Redmond 1-1, Liam Óg McGovern, Podge Doran 1-0 each, Liam Ryan, Lee Chin, Diarmuid O’Keeffe, Harry Kehoe 0-1 each.
Scorers for Laois: Zane Keenan 0-7 (0-4 frees), Willie Hyland 0-6, PJ Scully (0-1 sideline cut), Cha Dwyer, Paddy Whelan 0-3 each, Paddy Purcell 0-2, Ross King 0-1
Subs for Wexford: K Foley for O’Keeffe (53), C Devitt for P Foley (61), A Nolan for Redmond (64), E Martin for Moore (67), G Sinnott for Kehoe (67)
Subs for Laois: T Fitzgerald for Foyle (29, inj), J Campion for King (ht), T Delaney for Whelan (ht, inj), C Dunne for Walsh (54, inj), B Conroy for Hyland (67, inj).
Referee: J Keenan (Wicklow)