It was routine in the end as Wexford cruised to a comfortable 21-point victory over a disappointing Carlow, claiming a quarter-final spot at Wexford Park.
Wexford were officially through to the quarter-finals, but a home victory — coupled with a Clare loss — would have seen them leapfrog the Banner county into the semi-final. But with results going as expected, the Model county had to be satisfied with a place in the quarter-finals as Davy Fitzgerald’s Clare secured that semi-final place with a convincing defeat of Dublin.
Wexford took the initiative from the opening minutes, never relinquishing their grip as they dominated right through the pitch. It was an outstanding team display to go along with some excellent individual performances.
Already doomed to relegation play-off, Carlow showed it in their play, for they failed to match the momentum of their opponents. But they will be desperately disappointed, as they succumbed to one of their heaviest defeat without offering a serious challenge.
Wexford made the bright start into the breeze, shooting into a 0-7 to 0-0 lead by the 12th minute, with the in-form Rory O’Connor shooting over three points, two frees, while Conal Flood, Harry Kehoe, Jack O’Connor, and Aidan Nolan also got in on the scoring act.
Carlow had to wait until the 14th minute for their opening score, a Chris Nolan pointed free. Carlow were given brief hope when Diarmuid Byrne forced home a 19th-minute goal to reduce the deficit to 0-7 to 1-3. But with Wexford responding with a string of points to go along with a Rory O’Connor goal from a free, the home side led 1-13 to 1-6 at the interval.
For Wexford, it was a case of completing the job on the resumption. After Rory O’Connor and Chris Nolan had exchanged pointed frees it was home sub Paul Morris who took up the scoring responsibility, shooting over eight points, four frees, as they totally dominated the second 35 minutes.
Carlow could only manage points from Nolan frees before Wexford completed the task with a Diarmuid O’Keeffe 69th minute goal to complete a satisfactory afternoon.
Carlow finished with 14 men after having full-forward Edward Byrne sent off on a second yellow card after 45inutes.
Fitzgerald was happy with the display. “I thought at times we played some really good hurling, hitting over some great scores. That’s the quality that’s in the team but there’s still room for improvement for the quarter-final.’
WEXFORD: J Lawlor; S Donohoe (0-1), L Ryan, S Reck; P Foley, M O’Hanlon, C Flood (0-2); L Og McGovern, D O’Keeffe (1-2); A Nolan (0-2), J O’Connor (0-3), R O’Connor (1-6, 1-4 frees); M Dwyer (0-1), C McDonald (0-1), H Kehoe (0-2).
Subs: P Morris (0-8, 0-4 frees) for R O’Connor (40), S Murphy for Foley (43), C Dunbar (0-1) for Kehoe (55), S Casey for J O’Connor (60), G Molloy for McDonald (67).
CARLOW: D Jordan; M Malone, P Doyle, M Doyle; A Corcoran, D English, G Bennett; S Whelan, A Amond; J Kavanagh, D Byrne (1-1), J Nolan; T Joyce (0-1), E Byrne, C Nolan (0-8, 0-6 frees).
Subs: M Kavanagh for J Kavanagh (Blood Sub 34); C Whelan for D Byrne (35), K McDonald for Whelan (45), C Tracey for J Nolan (49), G Coady for Corcoran (51), J O’Neill for English (60).
Referee: C Cunning (Antrim).