PJ Banville’s 69th-minute free, needlessly conceded by Peter Nash, shouldn’t have been a winner. Limerick had four chances to equalise in the four minutes that followed – two acute frees by Jamie Lee missed the target, while Nash and Iain Corbett also failed to land stoppage-time efforts.
They were among 11 Limerick wides, five of which were from placed balls by four different freetakers.
That’s not to mention the frees dropped short and before you get to the first-half penalty Corbett blasted over the bar, the 53rd-minute Shane Roche save from Josh Ryan or the even later Danny Neville flick that hit the side-netting.
Wexford manager Seamus McEnaney praised his Limerick counterpart in acknowledging “we were lucky to survive their last three shots”.
He said: “My mother and father, Lord have mercy on them, have passed away and I said at different times in the last five minutes, ‘Please, mother, bring me through this one’ or ‘Please, dad, bring me through this one. Just get me out with a one-point win’. That’s the gospel truth. That’s exactly what I was at the last four minutes.
“We didn’t care how we won the game. We knew Limerick would be defensive and when you’re coming out of Division 4, you have to use your strengths.
“PJ, Ciarán Lyng and Ben Brosnan are three very good quality forwards and we want to give them as much space as we can, and limit the opposition. Our get-go was to limit Limerick to 12 points in the game. We did that and won it.”
Limerick’s points tally was matched by their wide-count and Billy Lee saw parallels with previous missed opportunities.
“If we were the better side, it’s a positive in many senses, but it’s going back to the same old… In my last involvement with Limerick, we had Kerry on the ropes a couple of years and we didn’t get over the line. So, what’ve we got to do as an organisation in Limerick to allow our players to understand how to get over the line? We’ve got to help them as they’ve got to help themselves.
“We had the chances. There’s no shying away from it. The fellas striking the ball would normally kick points if that was just a training session or a challenge match or a less pressurised game. 90% of them would’ve gone over the bar. We’d a similar situation against Clare.”
The wayward shooting of the closing minutes was a fitting final summation of a game littered by poor, nervy play. The less said about the opening 10 minutes of the first-half and opening seven of the second, which yielded no scores, the better. But it’s important to say it, too, to underline the paucity of quality and tentativeness of attack on display at the Gaelic Grounds.
It’s never a good sign when the reporter’s pad is full of notes like ‘slow, aimless, sideways build-up play’, ‘isolated full-forwards’, ‘silly fouling’ and a damning ‘even simple handpasses going astray and few kick-passes endeavoured’.
Once a game of football broke out, the sides remained deadlocked. The game was level nine times in all, which stretched across 38 minutes of play. Two points separated the sides only twice – once, after a Lyng free, when Adrian Flynn pilfered a short kick-out and ran through on goal. It should’ve been a green flag but Flynn blasted at Donal O’Sullivan, who palmed over.
Limerick levelled just before the break, 0-7 all, but it should’ve been more too. Corbett carved Wexford open and picked the right pass to Darragh Treacy, who was fouled for a penalty. Captain Corbett, however, blazed it over the bar. The second significant lead came when Banville opened the second-half scoring with identical-twin points down the left-wing. Wexford had the chances to go further ahead at that point, but Corbett’s strong runs from deep set up the levelling scores.
Ultimately, the only significant lead was the last one.
S O’Carroll (1 45’), I Corbett (0-1 pen) (0-2 each); S O’Dea, D Treacy, D Neville, G Collins (free), J Lee (free), S McSweeney (free), J Ryan (0-1 each).
PJ Banville, C Lyng (0-4, 2 frees each); M Furlong (0-2); A Flynn, J Tubritt (0-1 each).
D O’Sullivan; B Fanning, S O’Dea, G Noonan; P White, J McCarthy, I Corbett; S O’Carroll, D Treacy; J Naughton, G Collins, D Ward; D Neville, J Ryan, P Nash.
S McSweeney for Ward (28), J Lee for McSweeney (51), P Scanlan for Collins (56), S Buckley for O’Carroll (65), I Ryan for Naughton (67).
S Roche; M Furlong, J Rossiter, B Malone; T Rossiter, J Wadding, E Nolan; N Rossiter, D Waters; C Carty, K O’Grady, A Flynn; B Brosnan, C Lyng, PJ Banville.
J Tubritt for O’Grady (47), P Curtis for Brosnan (54), J Firman for Flynn (63).
P O’Sullivan (Kerry).