Liam Dunne’s Wexford are on the march.
The Slaneysiders booked their place in the All-Ireland senior hurling quarter finals – for the first time since 2008 – with a three-point victory over neighbours Waterford at Nowlan Park in Kilkenny this evening.
Almost 19,000 spectators watched Wexford follow up on their spectacular victory over 2013 champions Clare last weekend by dumping Waterford out of the championship.
And now Wexford will meet Limerick in Thurles next Sunday for a place in the semi-finals.
Paul Morris was hero of the hour for the Model County with a haul of 1-6 this evening, with teen sensation Conor McDonald and midfielder David Redmond scoring Wexford’s other goals.
Redmond’s 41st minute strike handed the winners a seven-point lead – 3-10 to 0-12 – but Waterford came roaring back to lead by a point as Colin Dunford netted two goals.
But Morris equalized in the 50th minute and three further points from the Ferns St Aidan’s clubman handed Dunne’s men the initiative once more.
Waterford managed just a single point in the final 21 minutes of normal time – Stephen Molumphy on target in the 56th minute.
And Ian Byrne sealed Wexford’s win with a majestic 66th minute score from inside his own half.
The game had looked set for deadlock at half-time before Wexford, who registered 15 wides, struck for their second goal to establish a 2-9 to 0-12 lead.
Liam Og McGovern, a constant threat inside, transferred a handpass to McDonald and the talented full-forward finished from close range in stoppage time.
That goal was a fitting end to a gripping first half that was level on five occasions – including three times in the opening ten minutes.
A point from McDonald in the tenth minute pushed Wexford ahead before Morris struck for the game’s opening goal, latching onto a pinpoint delivery from midfield before lashing a shot past Stephen O’Keeffe.
Wexford, who had scoring contributions from all six forwards in the first half, were now four points clear – 1-4 to 0-3 – but Waterford remained in touch through the free-taking of Pauric Mahony.
Waterford ate into that four-point deficit and eventually drew level at 0-9 to 1-6 by the 25th minute.
But Waterford will have been unhappy with the concession of some first half scores, particularly with Wexford being rewarded for workrate and turnovers.
Another Mahony free pushed Waterford a point clear, 0-10 to 1-6, and when Jake Dillon pointed from play, they were two clear.
But Wexford owned the remainder of the half – outscoring Waterford by 1-3 to 0-1 in the final seven minutes plus stoppage time.
2013 All-Ireland minor medallist Austin Gleeson registered his second point of the opening half but Wexford had scores from O’Keeffe, Morris (free) and McGovern before McDonald struck for that crucial goal.
WATERFORD: S O’Keeffe; N Connors, L Lawlor, P Prendergast; S Fives, K Moran, D Fives; M Walsh, T De Burca; S O’Sullivan, P Mahony (0-7, 6f, 1 65), A Gleeson (0-3); S Walsh (0-1), C Dunford (2-1), J Dillon (0-2).
Subs: G O’Brien for S Walsh (15), S Molumphy (0-1) for D Fives (43), S Prendergast for Dillon (44), M O’Neill for Mahony (56), S Bennett for Lawlor (62).
WEXFORD: M Fanning; L Ryan, M O’Hanlon, K Rossiter; A Shore, E Moore, C Kenny; D Redmond (1-0), L Chin; H Kehoe, P Doran (0-2), J Guiney (0-1); P Morris (1-6, 0-3f), C McDonald (1-2), L Og McGovern (0-2).
Subs: D O’Keeffe (0-1) for Kehoe (23), W Devereux for Rossiter (27), I Byrne (0-1) for Devereux (54), G Sinnott for Redmond (65), R Jacob for McGovern (67).
Referee: C Lyons (Cork)