Baptism of fire for Wexford
Andrew Corden Cup: Laois 7-15 Wexford 1-11
Wexford's first experience of the new regional Under-20 football developmental league for the Andrew Corden Cup is one that all those with the misfortune to be in Crettyard on Thursday will want to forget in a hurry.
It was an undoubted false dawn when the visitors picked off the opening two points inside five minutes, because hosts Laois were so vastly superior thereafter that they ended up with a winning margin of 22 points.
The Wexford defending was non-existent for the remainder of the opening half, so much so that the O'Moore county lads had the game wrapped up by the break when they led by 6-5 to 0-5, with all bar one point of that haul arriving from open play.
There was absolutely no tracking back of any description from the Slaneysiders when their rivals had possession, and their slow reactions all over the field led to Laois piling on the misery.
It didn't help the Wexford cause either that the opposition were so clinical in front of the posts, only kicking five wides in a one-sided hour.
They concentrated on point-taking after the interval and picked off some beauties, with big midfielder Eoin Dunne especially prominent in that department.
The scoreline actually read 7-11 to 0-6 at one stage, but thankfully Wexford managed to save a small bit of face by picking off an unanswered 1-4 between the 49th and 53rd minutes at a stage when some Laois substitutes were trying to settle into the game.
Unlike last year's championship round-robin, it's a straight knockout this year, but this league is a welcome addition as it gives mentors a chance to prepare their teams in a competitive environment.
Jamie Myler and Michael Molloy fired Wexford into an early 0-2 to nil lead, but a brilliant cameo by Laois number 13 Jack Owens saw him strike a superb 3-1 in less than six minutes to leave little doubt surrounding the outcome even at that early stage.
Myler pulled back a point, only for Laois captain Diarmuid Whelan to make it 4-1 to 0-3 after a misplaced Wexford pass in defence.
And although Myler split the posts from a free and a '45 in the second quarter, there was no respite as the hungry home side sensed an opportunity to grab some more goals and really went for it.
They were rewarded too, with Michael Doran widening the gap to 5-3 to 0-5 in the 27th minute before big full-forward Daniel McCormack planted the ball in the roof of the net in stoppage time.
Another Myler free was Wexford's sole score in the third quarter, and Laois attacker Diarmuid Whelan said 'thank you very much' when an opposition kick-out was delivered into his grateful arms and he returned it to the net in the 36th minute (7-7 to 0-6).
Netminder Daire Rochford saved well with his feet after finding himself one-on-one with McCormack when the number 14 caught a long free from Eoin Dunne.
And the highlight of that productive late spell that yielded 1-4 was the goal, an overhead flick from substitute Peter Kelly after a Jamie Myler cross.
Seán Nolan, Michael Molloy (free), Myler and substitute Dean Doyle picked off the points, but Laois responded with four of the last five scores, with Wexford's closing effort from Nolan sandwiched in the middle.
Incidentally, full credit to the G.A.A. for honouring the memory of the late Andrew Corden with this new competition.
The O'Hanrahan's clubman was Carlow football captain and only 24-years-old when he was killed in an accident involving a forklift close to his home 17 years ago.
An excellent full-back, I can recall him having many keen battles with Wexford in the years leading up to his premature death, while he also helped his beloved 'Blues' to three county Senior titles plus a Leinster Club crown at the expense of Dublin's Na Fianna in 2000.
It's good to see that his exploits haven't been forgotten.
Wexford: Daire Rochford (Ballyhogue); Liam O'Connor (St. Mary's, Rosslare), Cathal Kirwan (Sarsfields), Philip Dempsey (St. Martin's); Byron Byrne (HWH-Bunclody), Gavin Sheehan (Gusserane, capt.), Enda Minogue (Ballyhogue); Ben Maddock (St. Martin's), Aaron Breen (Glynn-Barntown); Dylan McVeigh (Starlights), Seán Forde (Kilanerin), Seán Nolan (Horeswood, 0-2); Jamie Myler (Horeswood, 0-6, 2 frees, 1 '45), Jack O'Leary (Volunteers), Michael Molloy (Kilanerin, 0-2, 1 free). Subs. - Dean Doyle (Ballyhogue, 0-1) for Forde (35), Peter Kelly (Ballyhogue, 1-0) for O'Leary (35), Adam Hogan (HWH-Bunclody) for Dempsey (35), Eoghan Herlihy (Oylegate-Glenbrien) for O'Connor (46), Michael Kinsella (Marshalstown-Castledockrell) for Breen (49), Conor Kehoe (Sarsfields) for Molloy (55).
Laois: Niall Gorman; Kevin Byrne, Seamus Lacey, Alex Mohane; Dean Brophy, Colin Slevin, Jack Lacey; Robert Tyrell (0-1), Eoin Dunne (0-5, 1 free); Niall Dunne, Michael Doran (1-3, 0-1 free), Ronan Coffey; Jack Owens (3-1), Daniel McCormack (1-0), Diarmuid Whelan (capt., 2-2). Subs. - Michael Dempsey (0-1) for Coffey (38), Jason Maher for Owens (38), Killian Horgan (0-1) for Slevin (42), Ross Brennan for J. Lacey (45), Paddy Walsh (0-1) for Whelan (48), Tom Kelly for Dunne (49).
Referee: John Hickey (Carlow).