Wexford 2-8 Longford 1-10
A spirited second-half comeback, topped off by Redmond Barry’s late goal, saw Wexford overcome Longford in Division 2 of the National Football League today.
Longford, benefiting from a strong wind, led 1-7 to 0-1 thanks to a Robbie Smyth goal and a hat-trick of Sean McCormack points.
The gap was down to five though after a goal from PJ Banville just before the break, and Aidan O’Brien’s men came good with Ben Brosnan converting six frees.
These counties met on four occasions last year including two duels in the Leinster Championship - Barry scored 1-2 to help Wexford win a quarter-final replay.
The Barden brothers, Paul and David, were notable absentees with groin injuries as Longford stepped up to Division 2 football after back-to-back promotions under Glenn Ryan.
They were first on the scoreboard thanks to a free from Sean McCormack. Wexford, facing into the elements, kicked a wide through Barry in response.
Longford moved 1-1 to 0-0 ahead thanks to a neat finish to the net from full-forward Smyth, who profited from a fine 40-yard run from defender Michael Quinn.
Brosnan got Wexford over the mark with a curling free in the 14th minute, but Longford continued their purposeful start with midfielder Bernard McElvaney impressing.
Francis McGee pointed after a free came back off a post and Sean McCormack got away from Brian Malone to fist over the crossbar.
Wexford were struggling to get out of their own half, and a well-struck ‘45’ from centre-back Quinn pushed Longford 1-4 to 0-1 clear.
The hosts’ defence was cut open again for McGee to point from close range, and a terrific high catch from Michael Brady set off a move which ended with Shane Mulligan firing over.
Daithi Waters hit Wexford’s second wide and free-taker McCormack was back on target at the other end just moments later.
Brosnan, thumping over a lovely long range free, doubled his side’s tally in the 33rd minute and they grabbed a vital goal on the stroke of half-time.
Paddy Byrne injected some pace in attack and found Brosnan who ran through the middle and passed for Banville to clip a clever shot between the legs of goalkeeper Damien Sheridan.
A right-sided free was converted by Shane Roche as Wexford continued to eat into Longford’s lead on the resumption.
The difficult wind proved problematic for Sean McCormack as he sent a 30-metre free wide. The margin was down to three - 1-7 to 1-4 - after Brosnan lofted over a free, awarded for a foul on Barry.
Wexford’s resurgence continued with an Adrian Flynn score, 11 minutes into the second half.
McGee tucked away his third point from play to lift Longford once more, following up on a Sean McCormack free that hit an upright.
Padraig McCormack was proving influential for Longford, getting a lot of possession and helping to set up attacks.
Sean McCormack struck a wide as the scores dried up for Glenn Ryan’s side though. Brosnan’s fourth successful free then whittled the lead down to 1-8 to 1-6.
It was a one-point game with 12 minutes to go after Brosnan converted a placed ball from 25 metres out, and the momentum was now with Wexford.
The tough-tackling Model men conceded a couple of costly frees with time running out, and free-taker McCormack split the posts from the right.
The gap was down to the minimum again courtesy of Brosnan’s sixth successful strike and in an edge of the seat finish, Wexford swooped for a dramatic win.
Byrne and Banville were both involved in the build-up and Barry was there to finish past Sheridan, edging his side into a two-point lead.
Longford had paid the price for some lacklustre defending and those missed frees. Donal McElligott responded with a point, but Quinn’s late ‘45’ was off target as Wexford, despite the early rustiness, prevailed.
Wexford: Ben Brosnan 0-6 (0-6f), PJ Banville, Redmond Barry 1-0 each, Shane Roche (0-1f), Adrian Flynn 0-1 each
Longford: Sean McCormack 0-4 (0-3f), Robbie Smyth 1-0, Francis McGee 0-3, Michael Quinn (0-1 ‘45’), Shane Mulligan, Donal McElligott 0-1 each
WEXFORD: Anthony Masterson; Brian Malone, Graeme Molloy, Robert Tierney; Aindreas Doyle, David Murphy, Adrian Flynn; Daithi Waters, Craig Doyle; Michael Furlong, Ben Brosnan, Paddy Byrne; Shane Roche, Redmond Barry, PJ Banville.
Subs used: Joey Wadding for Murphy (half-time), James Holmes for A Doyle (52 mins), Rory Quinlivan for C Doyle (60), Conor Carty for Roche (66), Kevin Gore for Barry (70+4).
LONGFORD: Damien Sheridan; Dermot Brady, Barry Gilleran, Peter Foy; Fergal Battrim, Michael Quinn, Shane Mulligan; Bernard McElvaney, Michael Brady; Padraig McCormack, Donal McElligott, Shane Doyle; Francis McGee, Robbie Smyth, Sean McCormack.
Subs used: Paul Kelly for Doyle (14 mins), Kevin Diffley for McElvaney (54), Aidan Rowan for Foy (66-68, blood sub).
Referee: Conor Lane (Cork)