independent

Tuesday 11 December 2018

Beaten in Boston

Hurlers lose semi-final to Limerick

Jack O’Connor tries to escape the close attention of Limerick’s Seán Finn in Boston on Sunday
Jack O’Connor tries to escape the close attention of Limerick’s Seán Finn in Boston on Sunday

Alan Aherne

The Wexford Senior hurlers lost to All-Ireland champions Limerick on a 53-45 scoreline in a gimmick masquerading as a sporting contest, otherwise known as the Super 11s semi-final in Fenway Park, Boston, on Sunday.

While the travelling party and the 12,674 in attendance may have held a different opinion, TV viewers at home weren't exactly enamoured with the hybrid rules, or the general quality of the fare, in an eleven-a-side game played into soccer-style goals.

And while it was painful to watch, it was no fun for one of the Wexford participants either, as Damien Reck received a nasty blow to the jaw seconds after the throw-in and was forced off immediately.

The young defender was shunted from behind by one Limerick player into another, and he looked very groggy before making his way gingerly to the sidelines.

With two 20-minute halves, unlimited interchange, and goals worth either three or five points - depending on where the shot was taken from - there was a lot to contend with.

An additional two points were awarded if a score arose from a volley or a drop puck, while only one handpass was allowed in any given sequence.

There was a 30-second shot clock, sidelines were taken from the hand, and kicking the ball wasn't allowed if a player still had his hurl in his hand. Other novelties included a tap and go system for frees, and '65s replaced with hockey-style short corners.

Yellow cards earned a two-minute stint in the sin-bin and, of course, the pitch was considerably smaller than the norm for hurling.

Wexford led 32-25 at half-time, with one of the highlights arriving in the twelfth minute when netminder Mark Fanning made an excellent penalty save from an Aaron Gillane piledriver.

Jack O'Connor had earlier goaled in similar circumstances at the other end, while the first Wexford score was drilled home by Pádraig Foley.

The second-half opened with a red card for Aidan Nolan after a pull on Cian Lynch, and Limerick later had two players dismissed by fussy Cork referee Colm Lyons - David Reidy on another straight red, and Kyle Hayes for a second yellow.

Eanna Martin, currently one of the two goalkeepers on the squad, made some fine saves after replacing Fanning in the second-half.

However, he got zero credit for his display on TG4 because their commentating duo of Brian Tyers and Diarmuid Lyng bizarrely didn't seem to notice his presence, instead praising Fanning for Martin's stops.

It was in keeping with the generally surreal nature of an experiment that won't provide any lasting memories, certainly not for this viewer at least.

A Harry Kehoe goal gave Wexford a 45-43 lead entering the home straight, but Limerick won it late on with a brace of five-pointers from Patrickswell clubmates Aaron Gillane (free) and a Diarmaid Byrnes piledriver.

Limerick went on to beat Cork 38-30 in the final, after the Leesiders earlier dethroned last year's victors, Clare, on a 42-37 scoreline.

The full Wexford travelling party (with scores in brackets) was: Mark Fanning, Damien Reck, Liam Ryan, Simon Donohoe, Pádraig Foley (5), Matthew O'Hanlon, Diarmuid O'Keeffe, Shaun Murphy, Kevin Foley, Aidan Nolan, Lee Chin (11), Jack O'Connor (10), David Dunne, Paul Morris (8), Liam Og McGovern, Eanna Martin, Eoin Moore, Conor Firman, James Breen, Darren Byrne, Joe O'Connor, Seamus Casey (5), Harry Kehoe (6), Ian Byrne.

Wexford People

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