Davy Fitzgerald rues Wexford’s wastefulness

Wexford’s unbeaten start in 2018 came to at Semple Stadium on Saturday night, but Davy Fitzgerald remained upbeat with a patchy performance that might have brought more reward with greater cutting edge in front of goal.

Davy Fitzgerald rues Wexford’s wastefulness

The final margin may appear convincing enough for the home side, who went in at half-time seven points to the good (1-15 to 1-8) after dominating the 15-minute period up to the break in which they outscored Wexford 11 points to one.

That lead had increased to nine by the hour mark before Wexford launched a late rescue effort as they cut the margin to four when Conor McDonald was denied for the second time by another stunning save by Tipperary goalkeeper Daragh Mooney.

Those missed chances came back to haunt Wexford and that is what Davy Fitzgerald thought was the difference between the sides.

“We should be netting them,” admitted Fitzgerald.

“I think you’d see Chinner (Lee Chin) went through as well – we went right through and Rory O’Connor was all on his own but he just put the pass... it was open for a chance, so it was. A golden chance and if you get them against Tipp you have got to take them.

“Mark (Fanning) didn’t have a save to make so the three goals they got were three opportunities. We made a lot of opportunities but just didn’t take them.

“I’m not very down, just disappointed that those ten minutes before half-time and just the few mistakes.”

On the other side of the Semple Stadium tunnel, Tipperary manager Michael Ryan admitted he was “relieved” to see his side hang on for victory, needing Patrick Maher’s 72nd-minute goal to ease any late nerves as Wexford threatened to take something from the game.

“I would be a critical of us to be fair, I thought we were a bit complacent at times in that second half. Maybe some of it was down to us (management) too, we made some moves trying to expand the panel. If it backfired on us tonight, we wouldn’t be thanked for two points that looked in pretty good shape at one point in time, and looked in terrible shape in the last minute until Bonner worked a bit of magic at the front end.

“To be fair to Daragh Mooney he pulled off a great save at the other end and that’s a six-point swing and we won by six, so you have to credit Wexford in all of this,” he said.

One of the moves Ryan was likely referring to was the substitution of Barry Heffernan in the 52nd minute, despite the wing back edging his battle with Lee Chin. The Wexford star becoming more prominent thereafter, firing over two points from play while also making the run to play in McDonald’s injury-time goal chance.

Ryan revealed he felt Heffernan was fatigued as the Nenagh man featured for UL in the Fitzgibbon Cup, as did Jason Forde and John McGrath whose college understanding is translating to inter-county level. Forde continues to benefit from Seamus Callanan’s injury absence, top-scoring with 2-9, taking both goals expertly in the 14th and 44th minutes, the second from McGrath’s pass. Forde also converted eight of his nine frees at the target while Wexford left five behind them, including four from Lee Chin in the second half when the visitors were trying to gain some traction.

John McGrath finished with two points from play, but it was his and his team-mates work-rate that proved the difference for long stages as Tipp harried Wexford all over the field. Padraic Maher once again lead the way from centre back with Brendan Maher also playing to a high level. Of the newcomers, Paudie Feehan and Barry Heffernan did their chances of starting regularly no harm.

For Wexford, it was probably a timely reality check after a winning start to the year. As well as ruing those missed goal chances, their concession of cheap frees in the run-up to half-time was costly while Tipperary didn’t allow Sean Murphy to influence the game from his sweeper role.

Scorers for Tipperary: J Forde (2-9, 9 frees, 1 65); Patrick Maher (1-2); J McGrath (0-2); S Curran, N McGrath, B Heffernan, M Breen, D Maher, R Maher, Padraic Maher, B McCarthy (0-1 each).

Scorers for Wexford: L Chin (0-10, 4 frees, 2 65s); A Nolan (1-0 pen); P Morris (0-3 frees); K Foley, J O’Connor (0-2 each); C McDonald, D Dunne, S Murphy, R O’Connor (0-1 each).

TIPPERARY: D Mooney; S O’Brien, J Barry, D Maher; B Heffernan, Padraic Maher, P Feehan; B Maher, R Maher; S Curran, N McGrath, Patrick Maher; M Breen, J Forde, J McGrath.

Subs: B McCarthy for Heffernan (52); G Browne for Curran (60); M Russell for Breen (65).

WEXFORD: M Fanning; D Reck, L Ryan, C Firman; S Murphy; D O’Keeffe, M O’Hanlon, P Foley; K Foley, A Nolan; J O’Connor, C McDonald, L Chin; D Dunne, P Morris.

Subs: R O’Connor for Morris (48); C Dunbar for Dunne (59); H Kehoe for Murphy (62); E Martin for O’Keeffe (70).

Referee: J McGrath (Westmeath)

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