Jacob leads Wexford back to Division 1

Wexford 1-16 Clare 2-9

Wexford 1-16 Clare 2-9

Rory Jacob's 72nd-minute goal ensured Wexford's two-year stint in Division 2 of the National Hurling League ended with a well-judged 1-16 to 2-9 victory over Clare in today's final at Semple Stadium.

It was not a first half display to set hearts racing, or one that looked like promotion to Division 1 next year was at stake, but Wexford battled until the bitter end to earn the Division 2 title and promotion to the top tier.

Clare opened the scoring in the second minute with a Colin Ryan free, but Wexford raced 0-3 to 0-1 ahead by the eighth minute thanks to scores from Rory Jacob, Diarmuid Lyng and Stephen Banville.

But the poor shooting that characterised the opening half suddenly crept into play, with neither side being able to add a score over the next 11 minutes.

Wexford were guilty of three missed chances in front of the target, while two further efforts finished in the hands of Clare goalkeeper Philip Brennan.

The 21-year-old John Conlon eventually bagged Clare's first score from play in the 19th minute, ending a 17-minute scoring drought for the Banner men.

Jacob and Diarmuid McMahon traded quick-fire points to leave the score at 0-4 to 0-3 with 13 minutes remaining until the break.

But poor shooting continued to be the order of the day, for the remainder of the opening half, with the sides shooting eight wides apiece by the interval.

A first point of the day from Bunclody's Peter Atkinson gave Wexford a two-point lead approaching half-time, but Clare finished the stronger.

Conlon showed great skill to capture his second point, after he kept the ball in play and from an acute angle veered into a scoring position.

The most inspirational score of the opening half came in injury-time, with Pat Vaughan clearing the ball from defence and Colin Ryan pulling on the sliotar first time to ripple the Wexford net.

Ryan's 37th-minute goal pushed Clare into the lead for the first time, with Ger O'Loughlin's charges claiming a 1-4 to 0-5 advantage

However, Wexford had the final say before the interval with captain Lyng slotting over his second point, and first from a placed ball, to cut the gap to the minimum as the sides went in at the break.

Darach Honan edged Clare two points clear within 40 seconds of the restart, but Wexford brilliantly blazed a trail with four points in succession.

Midfielder Colm Farrell notched his tenth point of the current campaign, as he took a pass from Jacob and cleared it over the crossbar, with Colm Bonnar's men certainly upping their efforts in all sectors of the pitch

Wexford broke 0-10 to 1-5 clear by the 42nd minute, but both sides were once again guilty of missing chances in front of goal.

However, Clare were to make amends for some poor shooting. Nicky O'Connell set off on a solo run along the side line and dispatched the ball to McMahon who slotted over a superb point to make it a one-point game again.

Clare registered the second goal in the 49th minute. Conlon was denied on his first attempt by the upright but made no mistake from the rebound to edge his side into a 2-6 to 0-10 lead.

But Wexford compose themselves with a fifth Lyng point, and a second Farrell score tied the game for the second time with 20 minutes remaining.

The Leinster outfit continued to build momentum, thanks to further points from Lyng and Farrell, and nudged into a 0-14 to 2-6 lead by the 58th minute.

A Ryan free reduced the arrears to a single point with 10 minutes remaining, with Wexford now forced to battle through the closing stages without defender Paul Roche who pulled up with a hamstring injury.

The sides traded points on two occasions in the closing four minutes, with Eoin Quigley's 70th-minute point putting two between the sides.

The Model men continued to build momentum and Jacob's late goal put the seal on an encouraging win.

Clare's woes were compounded deep into injury-time when full-forward Honan was dismissed for his second bookable offence.

WEXFORD: N Carton; P Roche, K Rossiter, C Kenny; R Kehoe, D Stamp, M Travers; H Kehoe, C Farrell (0-3); A Shore, E Quigley (0-1), D Lyng (0-7, 0-3f, 0-1sl); R Jacob (1-2), S Banville (0-1), P Atkinson (0-1).

Subs used: PJ Nolan (0-1) for Shore (half-time), M Jacob for Atkinson (53 mins), L Prendergast for Roche (63), T Mahon for Banville (68).

CLARE: P Brennan; P Vaughan, C Dillon, D O'Donovan; G Quinn, M 'Óige' Murphy, P Donnellan; N O'Connell, B O'Connell; C O'Donovan, J Conlon (1-2), J Clancy (0-1); D McMahon (0-2), D Honan (0-1), C Ryan (1-3, 0-3f).

Subs used: S Collins for Quinn (8 mins), F Lynch for C O'Donovan (44), B Bugler for Murphy (45), A Markham for McMahon (63).

Referee: Johnny Ryan (Tipperary).

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