Heavy U-20 defeat at hands of dominant Carlow
Andrew Corden Cup first round: Carlow 2-19 Wexford 0-6
The extent of the work facing the Wexford Under-20 footballers before their championship opener away to Carlow next month was clearly underlined in the Netwatch Training Centre in Fenagh on Friday when the same opposition sauntered to a handy 19-point victory in this Andrew Corden Cup opener.
It was a chastening experience for the visitors who were outclassed in most areas of the field, and the final margin would have been considerably higher were it not for the goalkeeping heroics of the versatile Colum Feeney who had featured outfield with the Seniors in the O'Byrne Cup before Christmas.
It's important to note, of course, that Wexford will have a stronger side in the championship, as they were very much in experimental mode on this occasion.
For starters, Liam Coleman and Niall Murphy weren't available as they were assisting Paul Galvin's troops in Offaly on the following day, while Páraic Hughes, Jack Kehoe and Ciarán Kavanagh are further examples of players capable of adding strength to the team.
The other factor to bear in mind is that Carlow have taken this development league very seriously since it started last year, because it's named in memory of their former star full-back who died in a tragic accident at a very young age.
Wexford's problems were evident from the off, with the midfield pairing of Emmet Cullen and Seán Forde unable to win primary possession from Feeney's kick-outs.
This, in turn, led to constant pressure being placed on a struggling full-back line, and Carlow had a particular ace in talented number 15 Andrew Keogh who reeled off six of his nine points from play.
Keogh (free and play) got them off the mark before the sole brief period when Wexford showed any signs of being good enough to compete, reeling off three points on the trot between the fifth and seventh minutes to take the lead for the one and only time.
Shane Pettit knocked over a free before setting up Cormac Cooney for the equaliser, and a foul on Diarmuid Barry led to a second score for the former before Carlow took over completely.
They registered nine of the remaining ten points before half-time to establish a commanding interval lead of 0-11 to 0-4, with the sole respite arriving when Tomás Murphy raised a white flag via the left post after good work in the build-up from Seán Forde and Todd Hynes after 23 minutes.
The classy Andrew Keogh had rifled over three more points from play, with Colum Feeney called upon to save goalscoring attempts from Jamie Lunney and Darragh Nolan.
There was no discernible pattern to the second period, given that both sets of mentors were intent on giving game-time to as many players as possible.
However, it was noticeable that six of the Carlow newcomers contributed to the scoresheet, amassing a combined tally of 2-7 between them.
This suggests that their reserve strength is vastly superior to Wexford's, because the visitors never looked like making inroads into that seven-point half-time deficit.
Indeed, they lost the second period by 2-8 to a mere 0-2, scored by Shane Pettit and substitute Conor Hughes in the 33rd and 60th minutes respectively.
Carlow were ahead by 0-16 to 0-5 when their first goal was finished from close range by Diarmuid Ruth after a Kevin Murphy cross from the left, and the same player provided another assist on their next attack for Pádraig Hynes to drive emphatically to the net.
Colum Feeney made three more fine saves from Cathal O'Neill (twice) and Ruth, and other than that it would have been a defeat of truly embarrassing proportions.
Wexford will face Tipperary in Thurles this Saturday, and they will have home comforts for the last group game against Waterford on January 18.
Wexford: Colum Feeney (Adamstown); Paudie Casey (Oylegate-Glenbrien), Garbhan MacCormack (Glynn-Barntown), Colm Parnell (Ballyhogue); Nathan O'Connor (Starlights), Liam O'Connor (St. Mary's, Rosslare, capt.), Michael Carroll (Glynn-Barntown); Emmet Cullen (Gusserane), Seán Forde (Kilanerin); Todd Hynes (St. Mary's, Maudlintown), Shane Pettit (St. Fintan's, 0-3, 2 frees), Diarmuid Kehoe (Geraldine O'Hanrahans); Cormac Cooney (Glynn-Barntown, 0-1), Diarmuid Barry (St. Martin's), Tomás Murphy (Blackwater, 0-1). Subs. (all used) - Fiachra Hourihane (Oylegate-Glenbrien), Ben Stafford (St. Martin's), Sam Audsley (St. Martin's), Ben O'Connor (Kilanerin), Stephen Kearns (Duffry Rovers), Ciarán Regan (HWH-Bunclody), Paddy Barron (Rathgarogue-Cushinstown), Ollie Gahan (St. Patrick's), Seán Kirwan (Kilrush), Jason Bolger (Kilanerin), Conor Hughes (Kilanerin, 0-1), Conor Stafford (St. Martin's), Micheál Gahan (Monageer-Boolavogue), Adam Fleming (Réalt na Mara).
Carlow: Kuba Budiscz; Jordan Kelly, Keagan Bradley, Jonah Dunne (capt.); Griffin Kennedy (0-1), Jack McCullagh, Finbarr Kavanagh; Ben Dorgan (0-1), Luke Connolly; Jamie Lunney (0-1), Dinny Farrell, Niall Hickey; Colin Byrne, Darragh Nolan, Andrew Keogh (0-9, 3 frees). Subs. (all used) - Cian Kavanagh, Adam Nolan, Richie Whelan (0-1), Kyle O'Byrne, Cian Doyle (0-1), Cathal O'Neill, Kevin Murphy (0-1), Cormac Lomax (0-3), Diarmuid Ruth (1-0), Pádraig Hynes (1-1), Anthony Keating.
Referee: James King (Dublin).