The contest never really caught fire in the opening half as Cillian Kiely appeared to get to grips with Conor McDonald at the edge of the square, blunting what appeared on paper to be Wexford’s main attacking threat, while at the other end of the field Emmet Nolan helped Offaly into an early three point lead with an array of attractive scores.
All bar one of Offaly’s first half points were either scored or assisted by the Birr player, but a sequence of errors from their defenders, most notably in the area of striking the sliothar without any clear idea of the ball’s destination, allowed Wexford to stay in contention. The visitors trailed by just a point at the interval, 0-8 to 0-7, despite being awarded just two frees in the entire opening half.
The mild breeze should have been of little consequence yet Offaly looked as if they were hurling into the teeth of a hurricane after the interval as their forwards were completely and utterly bottled up by their far more imposing counterparts from the Model County. Puckout after puckout rained down on the heads of the Offaly half forwards and on almost every occasion it was a Wexford back who was the one who claimed possession — Padraig Foley the player who would have accumulated the most ticks in that particular column for the Wexford statistician.
At the other end of the field, Kevin Foley had been the star of the show for Wexford in the opening moiety but he really lit up the Tullamore stage after the interval, bringing his overall tally to seven points from play. He struck two out of the first three points of the second half to give Wexford their first lead since the fourth minute and regardless of where the sliothar broke, the Rapparees man was on hand to snap up possession and strike on goal, invariably with time and space to pick his spot. His contribution was badly needed too, as Conor McDonald didn’t register a point from play until the last minute of normal time, while no other starting Wexford forward raised a flag of any colour.
Foley’s accuracy contrasted sharply with the profligacy of his forward colleagues as Wexford accumulated 12 second-half wides, yet they never looked to be under any pressure once McDonald blasted the ball past Kevin O’Connor for the game’s opening goal after 39 minutes. Any lingering hopes that Offaly might have entertained were crushed with nine minutes to play as a goal chance at each end resulted in two happy endings for Wexford supporters.
Offaly were first to glean an opening when Matthew Moloney cut in from the right wing and bore down on goal. His low strike was easily blocked however and just three touches later, Conor McDonald was able to deftly flick the ball into the path of substitute Cathal Dunbar for a second Wexford goal that put eight points between the sides.
Brilliant Wexford goal after Offaly nearly goaled at other end. pic.twitter.com/nDQ9xZPRV6— Kilrush Askamore GAA (@kilaskgaa) June 24, 2015
The match petered out from that point as Wexford continued to rack up the wides while Offaly’s physical deficit ensured that they couldn’t even secure clean possession. The result was utterly assured before the match moved into injury time, a phase in which Matthew Moloney nabbed a late consolation goal and Cillian Kiely was shown a red card for a second bookable offence.
D Murray 0-5 (0-4f, 0-1 ’65), E Nolan 0-4, M Moloney 1-0, C Doughan (f), C Mahon & S Guinan 0-1 each.
C McDonald 1-5 (0-2f, 0-2 ‘65s), K Foley 0-7, C Dunbar 1-1, J O’Connor, G Bailey & T French 0-1 each.
K O’Connor (Kinnitty); D Corbett (Shannonbridge), C Kiely (Kilcormac-Killoughey), P Rigney (Kinnitty); G Crowe (Tullamore), C Doughan (Shinrone), D Doughan (Shinrone); C Mahon (Kilcormac- Killoughey), P Guinan (Drumcullen); M Maloney (St Rynaghs), J O’Toole Greene (Shamrocks), E Nolan (Birr); A Cleary (Shinrone), J Maher (Belmont), D Murray (Kilcormac-Killoughey).
S Guinan (Kilcormac-Killoughey) for Maher (HT), C Molloy(Coolderry) for Mahon (45), A Connolly (Coolderry) for O’Toole Greene (45), P Kinsella (Lusmagh) for Cleary (52)
O O’Leary (Buffers Alley); S Donohoe (Shelmaliers), L Ryan (Rapparees), E Conroy (Naomh Éanna); J White (Oylegate-Glenbrien), P Foley (Crossabeg-Ballymurn), J O’Connor (St Martins); C Devitt (Ballyfad), G Bailey (Ferns); A Kenny (Buffers Alley), K Foley (Rapparees), J Cash (Shelmaliers); S Murphy (St James), C McDonald (Naomh Éanna), P Sutton (Oulart-the-Ballagh).
C Dunbar (Ballygarret) for Donohoe (25), S Kelly (Crossabeg-Ballymurn) for Murphy (37), T French (Adamstown) for Sutton (46), S Kenny (HWH Bunclody) for Cash (53)
Peter Burke (Kilkenny)