All that glitters isn't Gold in heavy defeat to Meath
Meath Royals 5-18 Wexford Gold 2-7
Wexford Gold got off to a disappointing start in the Celtic Challenge Under-17 hurling competition in Abbotstown on Wednesday, slipping to a heavy defeat against Meath Royals.
While the Meath lads looked at home on the astro, Wexford really struggled to compete. Between the Leinster special Under-17 championship team and two sides in this tournament, the Slaneysiders' resources are clearly stretched to the max.
Any thoughts that this could just be an exceptional Meath side were clearly nullified by their own plight in the Leinster championship.
They shipped a whopping 40-point defeat to Offaly just a week earlier with eleven of this 15 starting that game and the other four coming off the bench.
In the first-half Wexford competed reasonably well but struggled to contain their opponent's best player, Nicholas Potterton. The nippy inside forward batted an early goal past Art Sinnott as his side raced into a 1-4 to nil lead after ten minutes.
Not by design, Wexford dropped a lot of balls in short in the first quarter and only profited from one of them.
Niall Murphy's shot at a point dipped short and Ethan Freeman pulled on it sweetly at head-height on the edge of the square and rattled the net.
Only Murphy's point in the 22nd minute halted a Meath procession to a 1-9 to 1-1 lead. However, Wexford Gold showed some fight towards the end of the half, winning several frees that Jake Nobbs converted to narrow the gap to five (1-9 to 1-4) at the interval.
Blackwater clubman Nobbs was easily Wexford's most consistent player, and when he pointed in the 32nd minute his side were within four.
However, Meath scored the next 3-8 without reply to put the game to bed.
David Mernagh flipped over a late point and Tomás Cosgrave jinked inside and out before netting a classy late goal but Wexford Gold were comfortably second best.
They face Wexford Purple in their second outing on Wednesday in Innovate Wexford Park (7.30 p.m.).
Wexford Gold: Art Sinnott (Monageer-Boolavogue); Glen Carton (St. Patrick's), Jake Clancy (Faythe Harriers, capt.), Nathan Byrne (Naomh Eanna); Seán O'Neill (Adamstown), Philip Redmond (Rathnure), Evin O'Dwyer (Naomh Eanna); Seamus Doyle (Duffry Rovers), Jake Nobbs (Blackwater, 0-5, 4 frees); Tadhg Kelly (HWH-Bunclody), Niall Murphy (Ferns St. Aidan's, 0-1), David Mernagh (Monageer-Boolavogue, 0-1); Ben O'Connor (Tara Rocks), Ethan Freeman (Oulart-The Ballagh, 1-0), Aaron Byrne (Naomh Eanna). Subs. - Conor Morris (St Patrick's) for O'Dwyer (16), Cameron O'Leary (Rathnure) for N. Byrne (21), Tomás Cosgrave (Oylegate-Glenbrien, 1-0) for Kelly (37), Kevin Cosgrave (Oylegate-Glenbrien) for Sinnott (37), Jack Fortune (Crossabeg-Ballymurn) for O'Connor (44), Alex Sludds (Crossabeg-Ballymurn) for A. Byrne (44), Nathan Byrne for Doyle (56).
Meath Royals: Mark Hatton; Ross Kerrigan, Aaron O'Flaherty, Martin Browne; Jack Bannon, Kevin Coffey, Simon Ennis; Vinny Ward (capt., 0-2), Patrick Coyne; Kevin Lennon, Paul Briody (0-1), Peter O'Doherty (0-2); Nicholas Potterton (1-11, 0-6 frees), Alex Dunne (1-0), Trevor Healy (3-2). Subs. - Caragh O'Brien for Dunne, inj. (27), Dunne for Lennon (45), Lennon for Browne (51), Cian Smith for O'Doherty (54).
Referee: Thomas Gleeson (Dublin).