Wexford progress to quarters

WEXFORD 2-13 DOWN 0-12, Croke Park

WEXFORD 2-13 DOWN 0-12, Croke Park

Goals from Ciaran Lyng and PJ Banville steered Wexford through to the All-Ireland quarter-finals for the first time since the new championship system was introduced in 2001.

Lyng (15 minutes) and Banville (24) netted for a 2-05 to 0-07 interval lead in a game where Down's forward possession was limited.

A point in each half from Benny Coulter was the only contribution from the Down's starting attack as Ross Carr's men faltered badly at Croke Park.

Mattie Forde's free-taking accuracy (0-07) was the difference between the sides at the finish as Wexford set up a meeting with either Galway, Cork or Armagh.

Favourites before the throw-in, Down failed to live up to the pre-match hype as their first appearance at GAA headquarters since 1994, ended in a disappointing defeat.

Wexford certainly rose from the depths of a painful 23-point loss to Dublin in the Leinster final and they did enough over the course of the 70 minutes to warrant the seven-point win.

This was a game which had all the hallmarks of a Wexford victory once Ciaran Lyng found the back of the Down net in the 15th-minute, following a well-worked move.

It all started when Brendan Doyle won the breaking ball at midfield, he pumped the ball in long and while Mattie Forde was slightly fortune in touching the ball down for Lyng, the goal-scorer did well to gobble up possession and finish smartly to the net.

If Wexford looked a lively force in the opening stages, things were not going to plan at the opposite end for a Down side that had scored an impressive 7-33 in their last two outings.

Corner-forward Ronan Murtagh fisted wide under pressure, while Wexford corner-back Brian Malone was well-placed to shut off a Danny Hughes-led attack at the midway mark.

The unerring free-taking accuracy of centre-back Aidan Carr kept the Mourne men in touch but with underfoot conditions now heavy due to persistent rain, both teams found it harder to pick off scores, with Down particularly guilty.

Wexford used the open expanses of Croke Park to engineer a 24th-minute goal, but it was a defensive blunder which was central to Down conceding their second major.

Forde flung a placed ball in from the right and a mix-up between Down half-back Paul Murphy and goalkeeper Brendan McVeigh allowed PJ Banville to swoop in and capitalise with another clinical finish.

Points from Carr and Ambrose Rodgers helped cut the gap to two points, but Wexford cut loose before the break with points from Redmond Barry and Lyng to open up a 2-05 to 0-07 interval lead.

Down manager Ross Carr rang the changes at half-time, with Ronan Sexton, Declan Rooney and John McAreavey all introduced.

However, these changes failed to make the necessary impact, as Wexford continued to play with great vigour on the restart.

Wexford took a leaf out of Dublin's book from the Leinster final, by exhibiting a more open style of play coupled with some well-taken scores.

Forde's placed ball accuracy was just as good as Down free-taker Carr and with the Killanerin clubman raising the white flag on five occasions in the second half - including a spectacular 45th-minute point - the Wexford faithful sensed victory.

With possession for Benny Coulter limited and Down only kicking five second half points, Wexford's experience as NFL Division 3 champions certainly told.

Carr managed to score the first point of the second half, after five minutes, but five Wexford overs, including one from Paddy Colfer, helped open up a seven-point gap by the 61st-minute.

Substitutes Declan Rooney and Stephen Kearney tried their utmost to keep Down in touch with well-taken scores.

But this was a game which Wexford had sewn up well before the full-time whistle, as Eric Bradley, Adrian Morrissey and Colfer were all replaced in the closing stages to a chorus of cheers from the Wexford fans.

Just when they needed a strong performance on the biggest stage in the country, Down just could not deliver and they will be kicking themselves as their All-Ireland odyssey ends for another year.

WEXFORD: A Masterson; D Walsh, P Wallace, B Malone; A Morrissey, D Murphy, C Morris; P Colfer (0-01), B Doyle; R Barry (0-02), E Bradley, A Flynn; C Lyng (1-01, 0-01f), PJ Banville (1-01), M Forde (0-07, 0-05f, 0-01 '45').

Subs used: C Deely for Colfer (54 mins), S Roche for Banville (65), R Stafford (0-01) for Bradley (67), G Murphy for Morrissey (69).

DOWN: B McVeigh; L Howard, P Turley, C Murney; P Murphy, A Carr (0-06, 6f), K McGuigan; D Gordon, A Rodgers (0-02); J Fegan, K McKernan, D Hughes; R Murtagh, J Clarke, B Coulter (0-02).

Subs used: R Sexton for Fegan, D Rooney (0-01) for McGuigan, J McAreavey for Murney (all half-time), J McGovern for Murtagh (56 mins), S Kearney (0-01) for McKernan (65).

Referee: Marty Duffy (Sligo)

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