What else can you say at the end of a 23-point annihilation in front of your biggest audience in years? Ciaran Carey courteously tried to make sense of it.
“Prior to this, a lot of people would’ve been waiting for this kind of a hiding to come. The disappointing part from our point of view was for the day that was in it, that they decided to put up a display like that.
“There’s huge learning in it but they just weren’t tuned in today and there were the same elementary mistakes they we’re making all the time… 1-5 conceded again at half-time from bad touches and poor handling.”
Carey thought that Kerry wouldn’t have been too badly off at half-time (they trailed 1-13 to 0-4, having played into a fierce gale) only for Conor McDonald’s 14th-minute goal. That strike was the embodiment of everything Carey hates to see — Kerry mistakes making for easy scores.
A fumbled short puck-out put the hosts in a tricky spot. They managed to recover possession, only to lose it again, and from the time Andrew Shore picked up the ball, the Model County’s overlap was clear, with McDonald the man to cash in on his first start of the year.
For Wexford selector Ger Cush, that early score was vital in hushing the swollen home support.
“To keep the crowd quiet, we had to get at it early. There was a good crowd in for the hurling game, and if you get the crowd behind you, you get a bit of momentum and it’d be a hard battle against that. That was our main aim, to keep the crowd quiet, and we did that.
“As I said to the boys earlier, our aim at the beginning was promotion. That’s gone out the window. After that, our next goal was qualifying for a quarter-final so getting points on the board today was crucial. That’s the job we came down to do and we’re delighted we did that.”
First and foremost, it was a victory that hauled Wexford off the bottom rung of Division 1B. Beyond that, there was encouragement all over between Shore (1-7) outscoring the whole Kerry team, the scoring spread, and the stinginess of their defence.
A wind-assisted Wexford had the first three points on the board within five minutes and, aside from McDonald’s goal, a Bryan Murphy interception prevented one Wexford green flag and McDonald missed a chance for his second.
At the less-worn end of the field, John Egan’s well-worked goal chance was superbly foiled by Paudie Foley as Shore’s metronomic pointing from long-range and Harry Kehoe’s accuracy over placed balls extended Wexford’s interval cushion to 12.
It was the same story in the second half.
Shore’s 63rd-minute goal, a sumptuously clinical catch and finish from the 14-yard line, was the highlight as Kerry failed to use the wind to their benefit.
The hosts finished with 13 men as Tom Murnane received two yellows and Murphy a straight red in conceding a late penalty, which Ian Byrne blasted over to end Kerry’s misery. But at the end of a long Sunday, at least they had the football.
S Nolan (0-5, 4 frees); M Boyle, J Egan, C Harty (0-1 each).
A Shore (1-7); H Kehoe (0-6 frees); C McDonald (1-2); S Tomkins, I Byrne (0-1 pen), A Nolan (0-2 each); L Óg McGovern, L Chin, E Moore, D O’Keeffe (0-1 each).
M Stackpoole; S Weir, B Murphy, K Carmody; D Collins, T Casey, T Murnane; P Kelly, J Griffin; S Nolan, M O’Leary, C Harty; J Egan, M Boyle, J Goulding.
D Fitzell for Weir (ht), J Diggins for Casey (45), P Lucid for O’Leary (46), J Conway for Goulding (65).
C O’Leary; L Ryan, M O’Hanlon, A Kenny; E Conroy, P Foley, E Moore; L Chin, H Kehoe; S Tompkins, A Shore, A Nolan; C McDonald, P Doran, L Óg McGovern.
D O’Keeffe for Doran (49), I Byrne for Nolan (58), J O’Connor for Chin (63), A Maddock for Ryan, K Sheridan for Moore (both 65).
J O’Brien (Tipperary).