Carlow 0-10 Wexford 4-12
Wexford ended Carlow’s interest in the Leinster championship in convincing fashion at Croke Park today, and in the process booked their place in the provincial decider for the first time since 2008.
In the end, it was a bruising experience for Luke Dempsey’s charges but they can take some consolation from their first-half efforts.
However, the concession of two goals, one right on the stroke of the short whistle, undid so much of their good work and it was much easier for Wexford in the final quarter, when they banged in two more majors despite the excellence of Carlow goalie, Trevor O’Reilly.
The underdogs settled the better as Wexford racked up five wides inside the opening quarter. By that stage Carlow were leading by three points, with the Murphy brothers Brian and Brendan accounting for all four of their scores.
Shane Roche had actually opened the scoring in the first minute and it was a portent of things to come as the Geraldine O’Hanrahan’s sharpshooter was to prove the game’s most significant protagonist, finishing with a tally of 2-4 from play.
All bar one point of that came in the opening period, when only one other Wexford player got on the scoresheet, as Jason Ryan’s crew led by 2-4 to 0-7 at the break.
Roche made his first important contribution when finishing a move involving the enormously creative Ciarán Lyng and Ben Brosnan to the Carlow net in the 19th minute. The half-forward showed a lot of composure to round O’Reilly before sliding a low shot coolly to the far corner of the net beyond the retreating Conor Lawlor.
Carlow showed impressive composure though and Daniel St Ledger planted a free in brilliant fashion at the other end.
Brosnan had endured a very shaky start with his shooting from placed balls and from play but once he converted a 26th minute free, he settled down visibly.
Roche followed up with a neat score but Carlow finished with points from Brendan Murphy and Daniel St Ledger, either side of another Roche minor.
Crucially though, with time almost up, they turned over possession, leaving Wexford with a two-on-one situation. Lyng drew Lawlor before placing Roche and he blasted an unstoppable shot beyond O’Reilly.
Carlow made very little inroads after the resumption, as Brendan Murphy and Darragh Foley faded around midfield.
O’Reilly made a couple of splendid stops from Brosnan and Paddy Byrne, but without having to do a whole lot, Wexford gradually pulled clear, thanks to points from Brosnan, Roche and Lyng.
PJ Banville came off the bench to rocket a powerful shot to the Carlow net in the 64th minute before Eric Bradley notched up goal number four right on the 70 minutes.
By this stage, Carlow had managed just one point from a St Ledger free in the 48th minute and though substitute, Cormac Mullins, slotted two injury time points, the lack of threat to the Wexford defenders after the resumption was notable.
In the end though, it was the naïve defending of a very youthful Carlow unit that was their most significant handicap, and against a free-scoring unit like Wexford, that was always going to be difficult to overcome.
Wexford: A Masterson; J Wadding, G Molloy, B Malone; A Flynn, D Murphy, A Doyle; R Quinlivan, D Waters; S Roche 2-4, E Bradley 1-1, B Brosnan 0-5(2fs, 2 45s); C Morris, C Lyng 0-2, R Barry. Subs: A Morrissey for Doyle (43); B Doyle for Waters (48); P Byrne for Quinlivan (55); PJ Banville 1-0 for Barry (58); G Sunderland for Morris (67)
Carlow: T O’Reilly; A Murphy, C Lawlor, , B Kavanagh; P Cashin, S Redmond, K Nolan; B Murphy 0-2, D Foley; P Hickey, T Walsh, E Finnegan; Brian Murphy 0-3(fs), S Gannon, D St Ledger 0-3(2fs). Subs: A Curran for Nolan (43); C Mullins 0-2 for Hickey (55); E Ruth for Finnegan (55) J Murphy for Foley (61); W Minchin for Walsh (65);
Referee: M Collins (Cork)