By John Fallon
Limerick 2-23 Wexford 0-15
Limerick got their latest drive for promotion from Division 1B off to an encouraging start as they led from pillar to post in wet and cold conditions at the Gaelic Grounds.
A crowd of just 2,359 braved the elements for the opening round of the league and they got little value for their efforts in a game which lacked a competitive edge.
Wexford were stuck to the ground in the opening half and trailed by 0-16 to 0-4 at the break.
They rallied in the third quarter and Limerick looked as much at sea as Liam Dunne’s side did in the opening half before Graeme Mulcahy killed off a Wexford comeback with a goal less than a minute after he came on.
The Kilmallock man pounced after Tom Morrissey’s shot was well saved by Wexford goalkeeper Mark Fanning and that ended the visitors’ revival.
All of the damage was done in the opening half when Wexford allowed their opponents ample time on the ball and TJ Ryan’s men, who lead by four points after just five minutes, wasted little time in inflicting punishment.
Midfielder Paul Browne hit four points from distance in that opening half and added another after the break, while Barry Nash and Declan Hannon regularly found the target.
Wexford brought in three subs at the break and took the game to a Limerick side who backed off alarmingly and a string of frees from Harry Kehoe and a couple of efforts from Andrew Shore, who impressed after going into attack from centre-back, cut the gap to seven and the home faithful were worried.
Mulcahy eased those worries with his opportunistic goal and the win was sealed when Declan Hannon got their second goal at the death to complete a miserable night for a Wexford side who had to start without hamstring victim Jack Guiney.
Scorers - Limerick: D Hannon 1-4 (3f), G Mulcahy 1-1, P Browne 0-4, D Byrnes 0-4 (3f), B Nash 0-2, G O'Mahony 0-2, T Morrissey 0-2, J Fitzgibbon 0-1, D Reidy 0-1, C Lynch 0-1, S Tobin 0-1.
Wexford: H Kehoe 0-6 (6f), A Shore 0-2, L Chin 0-2, I Byrne 0-2 (2f), M O'Hanlon 0-1, L Óg McGovern 0-1, S Murphy 0-1.
Limerick: N Quaid; T Condon, R McCarthy, R English; D Morrissey, D Byrnes, S Hickey; J Fitzgibbon, P Browne; B Nash, G O'Mahony, D Reidy; T Morrissey, D Hannon, C Lynch.
Subs: G Mulchay for Nash (47), D O'Donovan for Fitzgibbon (53), S Tobin for Reidy (61).
Wexford: M Fanning; A Kenny, M O'Hanlon, J Breen; A Shore, L Ryan, P Foley; L Chin, H Kehoe; C Dunbar, A Nolan, I Byrne; D Dunne, S Tompkins, L McGovern.
Subs: S Murphy for Dunbar (27), E Conroy for Foley (h-t), E Moore for Nolan (h-t), P Doran for Byrne (h-t), J O'Connor for Tompkins (58).
Referee: Diarmuid Kirwan (Cork).