Flood nets on dream debut
New look Wexford off mark
Dermot Flood enjoyed a dream debut as a Wexford Senior footballer in a dull and dreary St. Patrick's Park, Enniscorthy, on Wednesday as his 17th-minute goal ultimately separated the home side from the students of Carlow I.T. in the second round of the Bord na Móna O'Byrne Cup.
Wexford 1-13 - Carlow I.T.0-13
The right corner-forward ended the night as top scorer with 1-2 to his credit as the Slaneysiders completely dominated the first quarter to lay the platform for victory. They already had four unanswered points on the board with the wind in their favour and it should have been more before Flood pounced.
He got his chance after a quickly-taken free when full-forward Kevin Rowe was held for a third time, and it was taken with aplomb. However, he didn't actually have the satisfaction of seeing the ball hit the net as it went under the rigging and spectators huddled in the stand had to wait for confirmation that it was a goal when the umpire moved towards the green flag.
Wexford were looking very comfortable at that stage with a 1-4 to nil lead to their name. Kevin O'Connor had been denied a goal by a fine save from Shane Murphy early on after Kevin O'Grady played him through, but the latter and the former both pointed in the sixth and seventh minutes before another newcomer, Kilanerin teenager Niall Hughes, bagged a brace of scores in a fruitful 90-second spell.
If the first quarter was impressive, the lead-up to half-time wasn't anything to write home about. Gradually the students gained a foothold as their best-known player, Carlow midfielder Brendan Murphy, proved difficult to shake off under the dropping ball.
Free-taker Barry McHugh pumped the ball over the bar off the ground into the wind to get them off the mark in the 22nd minute, and Anthony Forde set up Liam Boland for their first point from play.
Wexford's sole score of the second quarter was a left-footed effort from Dermot Flood in the 26th minute, and Carlow I.T. had reduced the gap to four (1-5 to 0-4) by the break after points from a Boland free and Tommy Nolan.
They lost corner-forward Chris Healy to a black card for a trip just before the interval but, while Wexford's entire tally had arrived from play, a lot of the shooting was aimless with no fewer than nine wides chalked up.
The work that needed to be done was clear on the re-start when substitute Tom Shiels fired over two early points for the students, but a run of three scores on the trot ensured Wexford retained the initiative.
Ben Brosnan set up Kevin O'Grady for a stinging shot which went inches over the bar, and Dermot Flood fisted a point from close range before Brosnan earned a free which he converted (1-8 to 0-6).
An Anthony Forde point for Carlow I.T. drew a strong response as substitute Simon Donohoe hared down the right and was spotted for a score by Kevin O'Grady before the St. James' man grabbed his own third point (1-10 to 0-7).
A strong run from Rob Tierney gave Graham Carty space to kick his first-ever inter-county point on a good night for the St. Mary's (Maudlintown) club, but Wexford were fortunate shortly afterwards when Tom Shiels fired low across their goal and narrowly wide.
Accurate substitute Declan Murphy made it 1-12 to 0-7 in the 58th minute before Carlow I.T. rallied and landed four successive points from Tommy Nolan, Brendan Murphy, Liam Boland (free) and Barry McHugh (45). And they might have drawn even closer because Shane Roche was called upon to make two vital saves in the space of 30 seconds from Tom Shiels and Declan Smyth.
Another Declan Murphy point, from a John Tubritt pass, closed the scoring for Wexford as David Power chalked down his first success as manager despite late consolation points from Liam Boland and Tom Shiels (free).
The victors shot just one second-half wide to bring their overall tally to 10, compared to eight from their rivals. Twenty-eight of the 49 frees were awarded to the home side who introduced another five new faces to this level: Jim Rossiter of St. Fintan's, Robbie Barron (St. James'), David Larkin (Horeswood), Niall Hughes (Kilanerin) and Dermot Flood (St. Mary's, Maudlintown).
Wexford: Shane Roche; Jim Rossiter, James Breen, Kevin Day; Robbie Barron, Rob Tierney, David Larkin; Graham Carty (0-1), Colm Kehoe; Kevin O'Grady (0-3), Ben Brosnan (capt., 0-1 free), Niall Hughes (0-2); Dermot Flood (1-2), Kevin Rowe, Kevin O'Connor (0-1). Subs. - Simon Donohoe (0-1) for Barron (HT), Paddy Byrne for Rowe (56), Declan Murphy (0-2) for Flood (56), Michael Furlong for Rossiter (60), John Tubritt for O'Grady (60), Tiarnan Rossiter for Hughes (70).
Carlow I.T.: Shane Murphy (Kerry); Declan Smyth (Meath), Conor Lawlor (Carlow, capt.), James Hendy (Offaly); Eoin Lynch (Meath), Will Young (Laois), Caoláin Ward (Donegal); Brendan Murphy (Carlow, 0-1), Tommy Nolan (Tipperary, 0-2); Kevin Ryan (Meath), Anthony Dever (Mayo), Anthony Forde (Meath, 0-1); Chris Healy (Kildare), Liam Boland (Tipperary, 0-4, 2 frees), Barry McHugh (Galway, 0-2, 1 free, 1 '45). Subs. - Tom Shiels (Laois, 0-3, 1 free) for Healy, black card (35), Israel Ilunga (Westmeath) for Ward (51), Ronan O'Brien (Carlow) for Dever (52), Thomas O'Connell (Kildare) for Lynch, inj. (60), Gerard Haran (Mayo) for McHugh (67).
Referee: Gary McCormack (Dublin).