Cork 2-14 Wexford 1-10
It has been an ideal start for Cork manager Donal O’Grady as his charges handed him his second successive league victory.
While it may have taken them time to put away the Wexford challenge in this Allianz Division 1B National Hurling league game at Wexford Park yesterday, they look totally focused with full points from their opening two outings.
Wexford forced to line-out with full-back David 'Doc' O’Connor were made pay for a dreadful opening 35 minutes when despite the assistance of a very strong wind they were only able go in level at the break.
The home side were unable to forge a lead and Cork, but for the tremendous goalkeeping of Damian Fitzhenry, would have been well clear at the break.
Fitzhenry was the hero in the opening exchanges only later to turn villain. After affecting two tremendous saves from Eoin Fitzgerald in the second and 10th minutes, he was eventually beaten when he pulled down a high Timmy McCarthy ball only for Alan Browne to be on hand to tap the breaking ball to the net, the goal arriving after 27 minutes.
Amazingly the opening 15 minutes failed to produce a score with Cork striking four wides to Wexford’s three during this spell.
Eventually Wexford broke the deadlock through a 16th minute Barry Lambert pointed free, and he followed this up after 20 minutes with a further point to leave the home-side leading 0-2 to 0-0.
Playing against a strong wind, Cork seemed happy to contain Wexford. The visitors had to wait until the 26th minute for their opening score - a Joe Deane pointed free.
Wexford were just staggering through the game making little impression on the Cork defence. The home-side introduced Paul Codd and he immediately made his presence felt with a point before Alan Browne’s goal helped Cork go in level 1-2 to 0-5 at the break.
So while Wexford were finding it difficult to settle it was Michael O’Connell and Joe Deane who created a two point gap within four minutes of the restart.
Cork were playing with more of a pattern to their game and it was Timmy McCarthy who worked his way through two defenders to beat Damian Fitzhenry from close range giving his side a five point cushion, 2-4 to 0-5, after 41 minutes.
Suddenly Wexford sprang to life responding immediately for Anthony O’Leary to flick a high ball out of the grasp of keeper Donal Og Cusack, handing his side a lifeline when the game seemed to be slipping away from them.
But all over the pitch it was Cork who were playing the quality hurling, and it was only the point taking of Michael Jordan, which was keeping Wexford in the game.
While this Wexford side may be young, they are not lacking in guts, with defenders Colm Kehoe, Declan Ruth and Darren Stamp putting some awkward moments aside to grow in strength as the game progressed.
With nine minutes remaining just two points separated the sides, 2-9 to 1-10, but it was in the closing exchanges that the continuous pressure eventually paid off for Cork, and they finished with five unanswered points through three long range John Gardiner frees and further points from team captain Alan Browne and Joe Deane to run out the most comfortable of seven point winners in the end.
And so Cork have four points as they look ahead to Derry on Sunday next, while Wexford face the daunting task of facing Tipperary in Thurles.
Cork now have four points from two games and are looking comfortable, while Wexford will be hoping that they can get their league back on track against the Premier County.
"Our main priority was to get two points. We contained Wexford very well in the first-half struggled for a period in the second but we still had seven points to spare despite striking 14 wides," said Cork manager Donal O’Grady.
"Just when we got ourselves clear early in the second half we allowed Wexford back for their goal but in the end we got some good scores," added a relieved O’Grady.