Wexford’s edge in sharpness swings it

Waterford 0-19 Wexford 2-20: Wexford’s match sharpness was a critical ingredient in their emphatic win over Waterford in this Allianz Division 1A opener at Walsh Park yesterday.

The visitors showed the benefit of a strong test against Kilkenny in the Walsh Cup the previous weekend in this competitive game, played in front of 7,567.

“I think we deserved the victory,” said Wexford boss Davy Fitzgerald.

“There was a patch in the second half where Waterford pulled right back and that was our fault. We stood off them too much and let them run at us. But once we got the goal, I thought we got right back into doing the stuff that had we talked about doing, and it worked for us. We were the better team today.”

Derek McGrath echoed his opposite number: “I think we were six points down at half-time and I said if we could clip away at the lead and not be vulnerable to, not a counter-attack, but getting caught against the run of play. I think we got caught. I think it came from a line ball, it was a line ball originally and the clearance came up and David Dunne got in the inside but it was a great finish. Wexford were full value for it overall.”

Dunne’s first goal, a terrific solo effort, was the critical score in the game. A strong breeze made the proverbial two halves of the contest, with wind-aided Wexford punishing Waterford in the first half with some fine long-range shooting. They led 0-7 to 0-0 after 15 minutes, and visiting ‘keeper Mark Fanning pointed three frees from his own half.

At the break, it was 0-12 to 0-6 but Waterford settled in the second half and a run of four points on the spin got them within three of their opponents on 45 minutes.

That was Dunne’s cue to hit the crucial goal. He added a second, another flashing run and finish from a tight angle, with ten minutes left, underlining his quality as the sizeable Wexford contingent in the crowd made their voices heard.

Fitzgerald was loud in his praise of his players’ work rate: “I think we had a few goal opportunities which was very important. But there are a few things to worry about - we let them run through in the end, which we shouldn’t have. That was us switching off, which I’m disappointed with but, in general, the work ethic of the Wexford lads was phenomenal. For us, it’s good to get a win. We haven’t been there for a long time and we were wondering would we be up to the pace, would we be up to the intensity of it. And we were today.”

Unusually, Waterford brought on no substitutes, but Derek McGrath said it was part of their medium-term plan, adding they had already selected their side for next Saturday’s clash with Tipperary: “We sat down Thursday and Friday and depending on CIT’s game against UCD and Kieran Bennett getting through the LIT game, we’ll be hoping that Mikey Kearney, who hasn’t been exposed to much over the last year or two and DJ (Foran) will see time next Saturday night along with Patrick Curran.

“We’ll be hoping to have a look at how they’re all going next week in Thurles. When you’re seven or eight down it can be up to the players to figure it out as they go along, to dig themselves out of it. Fitness wise, getting the 75 minutes into their legs - that’s good for them, in terms of a message it was more about minding the guys.”

McGrath acknowledged that Wexford are further ahead in terms of physical preparation, and Fitzgerald confirmed that in planning terms he has broken the season into two halves either side of the April club break (“When we 100% are leaving our players off for three or four weeks,” he added).

“If we can win another one or two games, we’re safe and that’ll be a massive thing for us,” said the Clare native.

That starts next Sunday at home to Cork. Judging by yesterday in Walsh Park it should be some occasion.

John Divilly and Anthony Daly review the opening weekend of the Allianz League:

Scorers for Waterford:

P. Mahony (9 frees, 1 65)(0-12); J. Barron (1 sideline)(0-2); J. Dillon, T. Ryan, T. de Burca, A. Gleeson, D. Fives (0-1 each).

Scorers for Wexford:

L. Chin (6 frees)(0-8), D. Dunne (2-2); M. Fanning (frees)(0-3); K. Foley, D. O’Keeffe (0-2 each); P. Foley, A. Nolan, P. Morris (0-1 each).

WATERFORD:

I. O’Regan, C. Gleeson, B. Coughlan, S. McNulty, T. de Burca, A. Gleeson, P. Mahony, J. Barron, D. Fives, K. Moran, P. Mahony, J. Dillon, S. Bennett, M. Shanahan, T. Ryan.

WEXFORD:

M. Fanning, D. Reck, L. Ryan, S. Murphy (c), P. Foley, M. O’Hanlon S. Donohue, K. Foley, D. O’Keeffe, A. Nolan, L. Chin, J. O’Connor, P. Morris, D. Dunne, C. McDonald.

Subs:

E. Moore for P. Foley (blood 12-15); J. Guiney for K. Foley (61); C. Dunbar for P. Morris (66); H. Kehoe for J. O’Connor (70); A. Maddock for Nolan (71).

Referee:

S. Cleere (Kilkenny)


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