Louth 2-9 Wexford 2-13
Wexford produced a commanding second half performance to see off Louth by 2-13 to 2-9 in Drogheda.
Shane Roche was in imperious form as he scored 1-5 in a devastating second half scoring run.
Louth looked shell-shocked for most of that second period despite leading by two points at half-time.
However, it was their inability to make the most of the strong breeze in the opening 35 minutes that ultimately cost the Wee County and handed a surprise away win to Aidan O’Brien’s Wexford side.
Despite playing with that wind behind them, Louth struggled to gain an advantage in the opening exchanges. Full-forward Shane Lennon hit the afternoon’s first score after four minutes. But it was the visitors who struck the first major blow.
Wexford corner forward Roche caught a long ball in from Redmond Barry after five minutes and swivelled to fire past Neil Gallagher in the Louth goal.
A point in response from a scattered-looking Louth followed, before Wexford’s Paddy Byrne raised a second green flag when he picked up a James Holmes shot which struck the bar and slotted it into the net.
Adrian Flynn hoisted over a first point for Wexford to leave the visitors ahead by five after just ten minutes' play.
It was Lennon who kickstarted Louth's recovery when he fisted on a Brian White free beyond Tom Hughes in the Wexford goal. That goal seemed to revitalise the home side and captain Paddy Keenan knocked over his first point of the day to leave a single score in it.
Roche opened up a two-point margin once more after 24 minutes, electing to pop the ball over the bar when he was one-on-one with net minder Gallagher.
However, Louth soon fired over four unanswered points, the pick of which was a wonderful long range effort from midfielder Brian Donnelly, to lead by two points at the interval - 1-7 to 2-2.
With the breeze now in their favour, Wexford pushed on with renewed purpose. Roche again planted another free between the uprights to leave O’Brien’s men just one behind.
Louth forward Derek Maguire had to go over with a blood injury and Conor Rafferty came on in his place. A Brian White free looked to have settled Louth slightly, six minutes in, and despite a score from Wexford’s Barry, the hosts opened a four-point cushion thanks to a goal from substitute Conor Rafferty.
But, just like last Saturday against Laois, Louth failed to capitalise on their goal and it was all Wexford thereafter. O’Brien’s charges began to dominate the high ball in midfield and were using the wind to their advantage.
A series of four scores in seven minutes tied the game at 2-8 apiece with 14 minutes left and a Barry point soon pushed Wexford into the lead.
Louth centre forward Lennon was sent-off for a second yellow card to add to manager Aidan O’Rourke’s woes as Barry, PJ Banville and Conor Carty cemented the victory for the Model men.
Scorers - Louth: Shane Lennon 1-2, Brian White 0-3 (0-3f), Conor Rafferty 1-0, Kevin Rogers, Brian Donnelly, Paddy Keenan, Adrian Reid 0-1 each
Wexford: Shane Roche 1-5 (0-3f), Paddy Byrne 1-0, Redmond Barry, Conor Carty, PJ Banville 0-2 each, Adrian Flynn, James Holmes 0-1 each
LOUTH: Neil Gallagher; Gary O’Hare, Dessie Finnegan, Gerard Hoey; John O’Brien, Derek Crilly, Adrian Reid; Paddy Keenan, Brian Donnelly; Andy McDonnell, Shane Lennon, Brian White; Paraic Smith, Derek Maguire, Kevin Rogers.
Subs used: Conor McGuinness for Finnegan (15 mins), Ciaran Byrne for Smith (22), Mark Brennan for Rogers (35), Conor Rafferty for Maguire (37), David Reid for O’Hare (65).
WEXFORD: Tom Hughes; Joey Wadding, Graeme Molloy, Michael Furlong; Brian Malone, David Murphy, James Holmes; Daithi Waters, Rory Quinlivan; Adrian Flynn, Ben Brosnan, Paddy Byrne; Shane Roche, Redmond Barry, PJ Banville.
Subs used: Conor Carty for Brosnan (49 mins), Kevin O’Grady for Holmes (65 mins), Paidi Kelly for Byrne (70).
Referee: Ciaran Branagan (Down)