Wexford progress in low-scoring contest

Offaly 0-08 Wexford 0-09

Offaly 0-08 Wexford 0-09

Defences ruled the roost at Nowlan Park as Wexford booked their place in the Leinster SHC final with an unconvincing 0-09 to 0-08 win over Offaly.

An injury-time point from championship debutant Stephen Doyle (0-03) decided this low-scoring affair and set up a clash with champions Kilkenny for the Model men.

In front of an attendance of 15,720, Offaly led 0-06 to 0-04 at half-time.

Rory Jacob and Brian Carroll swapped scores early in the second half before three on the bounce from Declan Ruth, substitute PJ Nolan and Doyle sent Wexford 0-08 to 0-07 clear. Joe Bergin replied but Doyle had the final say for his side.

The less said about this one the better. A niggly cross wind did much to defy many of the forwards on display but wides tallies of 14 for Wexford and 11 for Offaly are simply not good enough at this level.

Seamus Murphy will have to go a long way to getting his side into gear for a crack at the Cats.

Wexford's half-back line of senior debutant Richie Kehoe, Declan 'Skippy' Ruth and Diarmuid Lyng were the outstanding unit on show.

Ruth opened the scoring with a free from 65 metres out and Doyle added his first point as Wexford looked fluid. The Faithfuls, on the other hand, struggled, hitting three early wides - two from the hurl of free-taker Carroll.

But full-back Paul Cleary rallied the Offaly cause with a brilliant free, teenager forward Bergin levelled but not before keeper Brian Mullins kept out a stinging effort from Wexford's Rory Jacob.

Wexford were going through a bad spell - overs from Dylan Hayden and Michael Cordial saw Offaly stretch into a 0-04 to 0-02 lead. Jacob then ended a scoreless 20-minute run for his side, but Carroll's second point handed John McIntyrne's men a two-point advantage - 0-06 to 0-04 - for the second half.

Turning around with the wind at their backs, Wexford looked the more composed.

The three-point burst, which included a lovely '65 from Ruth, was really the winning of it for the Models, who were searching for their third consecutive championship win against Offaly. They were under pressure however in the closing ten minutes after Bergin had levelled following a good stop by Damien Fitzhenry.

Jacob had a cut at a free from 21 metres out but careered it wide, jangling a few nerves. It was their ninth wide of the second half and but for Doyle, who found himself in plenty of space to score the winner, it would have been their most costly. The victory also confirms a place in the All-Ireland quarter-finals for Wexford.

OFFALY: B Mullins; B Teehan, P Cleary, D Franks; K Brady, R Hanniffy, G Oakley; G Hanniffy, D Hayden (0-01); M Cordial (0-01), M O'Hara, B Murphy (capt); B Carroll (0-03), J Bergin (0-02), A Hanrahan.

WEXFORD: D Fitzhenry; M Travers, D O'Connor, K Rossiter (capt); R Kehoe, D Ruth (0-02), D Lyng; T Mahon, D Stamp; M Jacob, E Quigley, R McCarthy; S Doyle (0-03), M Jordan, R Jacob (0-03).

Subs used: PJ Nolan (0-01)

Referee: Pat O'Connor (Limerick)

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