Wexford’s dreams of completing a clean sweep of all three Leinster minor titles for the first time since 1970 is still very much alive after they came through a stern test of their credentials last night in Tullamore, withstanding a late surge from a fiercely competitive Offaly side before wrapping up their win with an injury-time goal from Diarmuid Doyle.
Model County manager MJ Reck will examine this game and wonder how his side didn’t have the game wrapped up before then as they were utterly dominant at half back, they offered real pace and cohesion in the middle third with Seán Keane Carroll and Ross Banville particularly impressive, and they created a huge number of scoring chances.
Yet 15 wides, a stunning save from Offaly goalkeeper Eamonn Cleary and some excellent last-ditch Offaly defending ensured that even though Wexford led from the fifth minute through to the final whistle, they were never comfortable.
Offaly started brightly with a great Barry Kealey point but two points each from Keane Carroll and Banville flipped the momentum, before Conall Clancy rifled in the first Wexford goal on 13 minutes.
The homes side eked their way back into the game, but the 1-8 to 0-7 interval lead was the least Wexford deserved and when Conor Scallan, Eoin Murphy and Charlie McGuckin (Wexford captain and son of Offaly All-Ireland medallist Shane McGuckin) all got on the scoresheet with superb scores from distance, the lead was out to seven.
Conor Langton led the fightback for the home side with three superb second-half points and a stroke of luck after 52 minutes really put the game in the balance. John Murphy’s long range shot for a point evaded James Lawlor in the Wexford goal and crept into the net, and when Offaly added on two more points, the lead was down to just one – but that was to be as close as they got.
R Banville 0-10 (6f, 0-1 ‘65), C Clancy 1-1, D Doyle 1-0, S Keane Carroll 0-3, N Murphy, C Scallan, E Murphy, C McGuckin, S O’Connor, J Reck 0-1 each.
C Kiely 0-5f, J Murphy 1-1, D Nally (2f), C Langton 0-4 each, B Kealey, B Duignan, C Ryan, K Sampson 0-1 each.
J Lawlor; E O’Leary, E Molloy, C O’Connor; N Murphy, M Kelly, C Scallan; E Murphy, C McGuckin; S Keane Carroll, R Banville, C Fitzhenry; D Doyle, C Clancy, S O’Connor Subs used: C Fitzhenry for Murphy (44), O Carthy for O’Connor (58).
E Cleary; D Maher, C Butler, C Burke; K Sampson, R Ravenhill, R Hogan; J Keenaghan, D Nally; B Duignan, B Kealey, C Ryan; J Murphy, C Kiely, C Langton Subs used: C Quinn for Kealey (36), L Kavanagh for Ryan (48), S Beatty for Maher (58).
D Hughes (Carlow)