Wexford 1-12 Carlow 2-08
Wexford advanced to the Electric Ireland Leinster Minor Football Championship semi-finals with a nerve-wracking one-point victory over hosts Carlow in Netwatch Cullen Park on Sunday lunchtime last.
John Nolan's side looked to be on their way to a comfortable enough victory after a Jamie Myler penalty was quickly followed by Jimmy Sutton's 49th minute over to put the visitors 1-10 to 0-6 ahead.
However, Carlow midfielder Jordan Morrissey pillaged two rapid-fire goals to help his side back to parity.
With the gauntlet thrown down, Wexford responded with scores from Mick Molloy and Jimmy Sutton to re-take control and were cool and composed playing out more than four minutes of added-time with just a single point lead to book their spot in the semi-finals with Dublin, Louth and Kildare.
After beating two of the minnows of the province, it's difficult to know what to make of this Wexford side. They certainly aren't without quality, but whether their heavy home loss to Offaly in the opening round was a aberration or not will only really be known after their Leinster semi-final on July 5.
Playing with the breeze at their back, Wexford started brightly. Mick Molloy was fouled in the left corner and made a tricky free from a tight angle look like a formality. Carlow responded with a nice point from Cathal O'Neill and followed a pair of Jamie Myler frees with equalisers too.
At 0-3 each, the hosts took their only lead of the half when John Byrne raised his second consecutive white flag.
That 15th minute point would prove to be Carlow's final score of the period as Wexford took control of the game.
Myler added his third point, first from play, when he was quickest to react to Mick Molloy's break off the excellent Brian Deeney's long, hopeful ball. There was some confusion in the 19th when Jamie Thomas went to ground close to goal and referee Stephen Murphy blew his whistle.
After consultation with his umpires he decided to throw the ball in, Wexford won possession and Myler kicked his fourth of the half to make it 0-5 to 0-4. When Gavin Sheehan knocked over a fine score moments later it looked like John Nolan's side were on course for a strong interval lead.
They managed just two points in the last eleven minutes of the period. Myler popped over the first of those from a dead ball and followed it in the 30th minute with his sixth point, this time after great work by Sean Nolan to win possession back, to make it 0-8 to 0-4 at the change of ends.
Mick Molloy kicked over a free after he was fouled four minutes after the restart. Illegally impeding the Naomh Eanna clubman seemed to be the only answer that Carlow had to stopping the him as the half wore on and he became more and more involved in a personal battle with hosts full-back Robert Gahan.
Now playing with the element, Carlow were unable to make massive inroads. They pulled a couple of points back with dead-ball scores to close within three at the end of the third quarter but their mini-rally looked to be in vain when Molloy was dragged back for a penalty when breaking in on goal from the left.
Jamie Myler stopped up to take the spot-kick and coolly sent Jack Rowan the wrong way. When Good Counsel teammate Jimmy Sutton collected his clever cross field free moments later and split the posts, Wexford held a solid 1-10 to 0-6 lead.
Maybe the foot slid slightly off the gas but Carlow still needed to respond. They had seriously rolled the dice with four substitutions already on the pitch but it was a man who started the game, Jordan Morrissey, playing now at full-forward, who got his side back into the game.
His first goal came from a great high take close to goal and classy finish. His second was the product of a straight forward Michael Gardiner hand-pass that sent him away through the centre and a blistering finish. Tails up, Andrew Kehoe levelled the scores with a nice point from 25 metres out (1-10 to 2-7).
The shock of suddenly being level kicked Wexford into gear. Molloy fired over off the deck while being fouled, moments later Sutton kicked a fine score to put two between the sides again. Carlow narrowed the gap with a Conor Doyle 58th minute free but he quickly picked up his second yellow.
The hosts couldn't find an equaliser in the ample stoppage-time as the Slaneysiders marched into the final four. They will, no doubt, go into their semi-final as underdogs but with a boost in their personnel ranks and a jolt in confidence to follow they are set to give it a real rattle.
CARLOW: Jack Rowan; Senan Molloy, Robert Gahan, Tadhg Roche; Kelan Gaffney, Jamie McCabe (capt.), Ryan Hollick; Jordan Morrissey (2-0), Conor Doyle (0-3, 2 frees); Ronan McAllister, Hugh Dooley, John Byrne (0-2); Gavin Healy, Cathal O'Neill (0-1), Robert Kane (0-1 free). Subs. - Andrew Kehoe (0-1) for O'Neill (31), Michael Gardiner for McAllister (31), Robert St Ledger for Dooley (37), Ronan Curran for Healy (41), Diarmuid Ruth for McCabe (50), Cormac Lomax for Byrne (59), also, Jamie Coogan, Michael Murphy, Jim Nolan.
WEXFORD: Darragh Brooks; Eoin O'Leary, Ben Maddock, Adam Hogan; Peadar Cowman, Eoin Porter, Gavin Sheehan (0-1); David Gouldson, Brian Deeney; Sean Nolan, Sam Wall, Jimmy Sutton (0-2); Jamie Myler (1-6, 0-3 frees, 1-0 pen), Mick Molloy (0-3, 2 frees, capt.), Jamie Thomas. Subs. - Cathal Doyle for Thomas (31), Diarmuid Keogh for Nolan (45), Cathal Kirwan for Wall (60+2), Edward Dunbar for Sutton (60+4), also, Jack Quinn, Padraig Loughlin, Killian Pierce, Michael Codd, Conor O'Toole.
REFEREE: Stephen Murphy (Louth)