Wexford respond to critics

Wexford 3-18 Antrim 0-17
Wexford manager Liam Dunne is looking forward to having a crack at Carlow on Saturday after his side carved out a 10-point victory over Antrim in their All-Ireland SHC preliminary round at Wexford Park on Saturday.

This was a game Wexford were expected to win on home soil but that presumption brought its own problems for manager Liam Dunne, who felt his side were given scant justice for the challenge thrown down against Dublin, particularly in the drawn game.

“The platform was the performance in the first half, playing into the wind,” he said.

“We played some good hurling, took some really good scores. It will bring the lads on, especially their confidence following the Dublin defeat. Now we look towards Carlow. We are not looking beyond that game and will give them the respect they deserve.”

Antrim who received a dreadful battering to Limerick in last year’s qualifiers were seeking redemption as they tried to remain among hurling elite. Added to their quest was a disappointing loss to Laois and the Saffrons manager Kevin Ryan was looking for a hugely improved performance.

“We should have put more scores on the board when wind assisted in the first half but our shooting, particularly from long range, failed us. We also missed out on a couple of half-chances of goals.

“While our game ignited for a period in the second half, getting to within three points of our opponents, but we could not get the goal our game needed. We were competitive but it was not enough. It’s the end of our championship, disappointing,” he said.

Antrim, playing with the stiff breeze, banged over two early points through Shane McNaughton frees with Wexford having to wait until the sixth minute for their opening score, a Paul Morris point. With centre-back Neil McManus leading by example, striking over four superb long-range points — one a 70m free — the Glensmen led 0-5 to 0-3 after 15 minutes.

The home side rose from their leisurely start after Antrim keeper Chris O’Connell beat out a Paul Morris shot only for full-forward Podge Doran to force the ball to the net from and give his side a 1-3 to 0-5 lead.

Antrim were concentrating on shooting for long-range points, but had a great chance of a goal after Karl Stewart created space but saw his kicked attempt go across the face of the goal and wide.

With the sides continuing to trade points, Wexford got a crucial breakthrough after 35 minutes. A Garett Sinnott effort came back off the upright and Rory Jacob reacted quickest to fire a low ground shot to the net and give them a 2-5 to 0-9 lead at the interval.

Entering the second half it was going to take something extra special from Antrim to fashion a result and it never looked like materialising, as Wexford extended their lead through three early points from Guiney (free), Jacob and Morris to lead 2-8 to 0-9.

Antrim needed a goal but could only manage a Jackson McGreevey point. Jacob and Sinnott struck over Wexford points before Neil McManus (free), Conor Carson and a Shane McNaughton free left just three points separating the sides, 2-10 to 0-13, after 49 minutes.

Wexford kept extending their lead before Jacob, with a deft hand pass, put Paul Morris in the clear and he finished to the net superbly leaving the home side leading 3-12 to 0-15, with 14 minutes remaining. From that score onwards, there was to be no way back for the visitors as Wexford closed out the game.

Scorers for Wexford: J Guiney (0-8, 3fs, 2 65s, 1 s/l), R Jacob, P Morris (1-2 each), G Sinnott (0-4), P Doran (1-0), E Martin (free), S Murphy (0-1 each).

Scorers for Antrim: N McManus (0-6, 2 frees), S McNaughton (0-5, 0-3 frees), J McGreevey, K Stewart (1 free) (0-2 each), C Carson, C McGuinness 0-1 each.

WEXFORD: M Fanning; E Moore, T Waters, B Kenny; R Kehoe, M O’Regan, C Kenny; D Redmond, L Chin; J Guiney, G Sinnott, H Kehoe; P Morris, P Doran, R Jacob. Subs for Wexford: C O’Shaughnessy for Doran (48), E Quigley for Redmond (56), J Tonks for H Kehoe (60), S Murphy for C Kenny (65), E Martin for Chin (67).

ANTRIM: C O’Connell; B McFall, A Graffin, C McKinley; S McCrory, N McManus, P Shiels; J McGreevey, N McAuley; S McNaughton, C Carson, T McCloskey; C McGuinness, K Stewart, D Hamill. Subs for Antrim: O McFadden for McFall (43), K McKernan for Carson (60), C Clarke for McGuinness (60).

Referee: J Sexton (Cork).


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