Minors share the spoils
Cathal Walsh held his nerve to kick a tricky injury time free to hand Wexford a deserved draw in their first outing in the Leinster Minor Football League against hosts Kildare in Hawkfield on Saturday.
Wexford 1-11 Kildare 1-11
The Monageer-Boolavogue midfielder had converted a similarly difficult left-footed dead-ball in the first-half and made it two from two after Martin O'Connor was fouled tight on the right wing as time expired to hand the Slaneysiders a share of the spoils.
While the game was notable for some experimental rules, including a maximum of three handpasses in a row and 'marks' for catching kick-outs past the '45, it was the attacking, committed performance of both sides that caught the eye.
Neither county was at full strength with Kildare entering two teams in the league and Wexford missing a half-dozen crucial dual players who stayed with the hurlers last weekend before returning for the two home games to come.
In game play Wexford were the better team but the visitors struggled badly from re-starts with the Kildare diamond in the centre well on top under the high ball. It meant they were able to use the 'mark' repeatedly but it really gave minimal advantage with a few re-starts going astray off the boot.
Yet, it was Wexford who started brightly with Mark Rossiter already on target when Michael Molloy found the top left corner of the net with a looping effort when cutting in from the right wing in the third minute after being fed by Barry O'Connor.
Kildare had responded to level (1-1 to 0-4) at the end of the first quarter, but dead-balls from Rossiter and Walsh eased Wexford ahead again. When Cian Costigan hit back with a classy low finish past Richard Ryan, the hosts had their first lead.
With the right side of the Wexford attack motoring, Molloy and O'Connor both registered classy points. However, every time the Slaneysiders scored, Kildare responded in kind. Eventually, Walsh levelled on the stroke of half-time to leave the sides deadlocked at the interval (1-6 each).
Kildare sprung away first after the re-start following raised white flags from Steve Doyle and Jack Robinson, but Wexford went closer to adding what would have been a crucial second goal.
Seán Nolan chipped just over the bar while Barry O'Connor's fisted effort was well anticipated by Jack Lawlor in the Kildare goal. Wexford did level through Rossiter and then took the lead in the 41st minute after Sam Wall scored a cracking point (1-9 to 1-8).
Three in a row from the Lilywhites threatened to steal the points away from the visitors but late frees from Wall and Walsh secured a draw. Next up for Wexford is a game with Dublin on Saturday (2.30 p.m., Ferns Centre Of Excellence) followed by another home tie against Cork in the final round-robin match.
Wexford: Richard Ryan; Dylan Lyne, Cathal Devereux, Seamus O'Donnell; Tadhg Cody, Ronan Devereux (capt.), Martin O'Connor; John Dunne, Cathal Walsh (0-3, 2 frees); Barry O'Connor (0-1), Mark Rossiter (0-3, 2 frees), David Gouldson; Michael Molloy (1-1), Sam Wall (0-2, 1 free), Jack Brazzill. Subs. - Cathal Kirwan for Cody, inj. (30), Billy Wickham for Lyne (31), Seán Nolan (0-1) for Brazzill (31), Ben Maguire for Ryan (31), Peter Breen for O'Donnell (46), Ben Moore for Dunne (47), Robert Donnelly for Rossiter, inj. (52), Aaron McGuire for Gouldson (56).
Kildare: Jack Lawlor; Mark Lawler, Andrew Gregg, Conor Murphy; John O'Toole, Seán Kavanagh, Ben Carroll; James Burke, Kevin Foley (capt., 0-1); Tom McDonnell, Cian Costigan (1-1), Sam Doran (0-2); Jack Robinson (0-2, 1 free), Steve Doyle (0-3), Pádraig Nash (0-2, 1 free). Subs. - Matthew Betts-Symonds for O'Toole, inj. (15), Kevin Gorman for Murphy (31), Mark McDermott for McDonnell (31), Niall Brennan for Kavanagh (31), O'Toole for Carroll (44), Darren Kelly for Nash (46), Michael Fitzsimmons for Doyle (48).
Referee: David O'Connor (Dublin).