Friday 15 December 2017

Hurlers have it very easy

Alan Aherne

Paul Morris posing problems on his 50th Senior appearance with Wexford
Paul Morris posing problems on his 50th Senior appearance with Wexford
Wexford goalscorer David Dunne survives this despairing dive from Carlow corner-back Dion Wall
Michael O'Hanlon in a tussle with Carlow's Diarmuid Byrne

Wexford will be expecting a more searching test of their developing squad against Offaly next weekend after completing the Bord na Móna Walsh Cup Senior hurling Group 3 campaign with maximum points in Netwatch Cullen Park, Carlow, on Sunday.

Wexford 1-21 Carlow 0-7

It would have taken a highly unlikely couple of results and scorelines to deny the Slaneysiders top spot and a place in the semi-finals, and it was looking bleak for the home side even before they were reduced to 14 men in the 30th minute.

Wexford had cruised into an 0-8 to 0-1 lead when Carlow wing-back Richard Coady took umbrage at a decision not to award him a free, and whatever he said was enough for referee John Kennedy to stop the play and furnish a straight red card.

It wasn't the reason why Wexford won, as that looked very likely one way or the other. However, it did remove even the slightest chance of our neighbours mounting a comeback and making the second-half interesting.

Instead, Wexford led by 0-10 to 0-4 at the break and the margin was never any smaller, with lively substitute David Dunne grabbing the sole goal of the game midway through the half to increase the advantage to 1-16 to 0-6.

If one was to find a reason to quibble with the performance, it could be pointed out that this was about the only really clearcut goal chance the winners created against poor opposition. However, on a cold day in mid-January, with the outcome in the bag from an early stage, it's easy to understand why Wexford calmly tapped over points rather than going for the jugular.

Thirteen wides (seven after the break) was too high a figure all the same, but it was still a comprehensive victory on a day when team captain Matthew O'Hanlon returned from his one-match ban while Lee Chin and Cathal Dunbar were also back in the fold after missing the Meath game through illness.

Corner-back James Breen wasn't able to tog out and his place went to Adamstown clubmate Shane O'Gorman, while top scorer Ian Byrne was also absent from the half-forward line on a day when his clubmate, Paul Morris, took over the free-taking duties on his 50th Senior appearance for Wexford.

An early Liam Og McGovern effort dropped short due to Alan Corcoran's hook, but Aidan Nolan got the visitors off the mark in the third minute.

Cathal Dunbar then came close to getting a goal following a neat crossfield pass by Harry Kehoe. Although the Ballygarrett lad was hooked as he soloed through, he improvised with a flick which rebounded off the far post.

Lee Chin shot a wide shortly before Andrew Shore converted a long-range free, playing on a field not a million miles from his Knockbeg College alma mater. Shore ('65) and Paul Morris (free) missed chances to widen the gap but Carlow were offering absolutely no threat at the other end, and Chin set up Shane Tomkins to make it 0-3 to nil in the 14th minute.

Another Shore free from distance went wide before Morris opened his account after a foul on Aidan Nolan as he sought to burrow his way through. Shore's back pass to Harry Kehoe gave the lively midfielder the room needed to make it 0-5 to nil, with Morris on target again after Liam Og McGovern was held in the 20th minute.

Diarmuid O'Keeffe joined the list of scorers with a good solo effort down the left after catching a clearance by Carlow's Dion Wall under the stand. The home side finally threatened, with Kevin McDonald shaving a post from a free before missing the target from open play, only to make it third time lucky from another placed ball after a grounded Andrew Shore was penalised for over-carrying.

It had taken nearly 25 minutes for that first Carlow score, and Wexford responded quickly through Aidan Nolan after good work by Shore and Morris. Richard Coady's verbal outburst followed, with the Barrowsiders in dire straits even though McDonald did manage the next point from a free.

Midfield partners combined as Lee Chin latched on to Aidan Nolan's crossfield line ball and looked behind him to see an unmarked Harry Kehoe who split the posts in the 33rd minute (0-9 to 0-2).

Carlow then cobbled together two scores in succession for the only time, courtesy of James O'Hara from a line ball on the left and Seán Whelan from long range, the first of just a couple of points from play. Andrew Kenny and Kevin McDonald swapped wides, the latter with a pull into the side-netting, before Liam Og McGovern ended the half with a fine point from the 65-metre line after wandering outfield (0-10 to 0-4).

Carlow resumed with a two-man inside forward line of Seán Whelan and Conor Lawlor, not to mention no hope of making up the deficit. Shane Tomkins and Diarmuid O'Keeffe (wide) squandered a couple of early chances before the scoring resumed from a 60-metre Paul Morris free earned by Aidan Nolan.

David English responded from a free but was wide with another effort, with Morris making it 12-5 after a foul on Cathal Dunbar who was picked out by a good Harry Kehoe pass.

David Dunne replaced Joe O'Connor, taking up his position in the left corner while Dunbar ventured out to the right wing, and the Davidstown-Courtnacuddy man didn't take long before making an impact.

He had to wait his turn though, as three of the next four points came from Shane Tomkins (from a Dunbar pass), Paul Morris (from a free after being fouled himself), and Dunbar after a strong run by Lee Chin.

The sole Carlow reply came from another David English free, and it was destined to get even worse for the home side. David Dunne opened his account with a point from a Harry Kehoe delivery, with the move started by a Matthew O'Hanlon catch in his own square.

And just shy of the mid-point of the second-half, Diarmuid O'Keeffe, Paul Morris and Shane Tomkins were all involved before Dunne beat goalkeeper Jack Barron with a low shot which extended the lead to 1-16 to 0-6.

Aaron Maddock came in for Lee Chin before Morris missed a scoreable free, while Aidan Nolan drove an instinctive effort across goal and wide from a Dunne handpass. Diarmuid O'Keeffe also shot wide from a point attempt before a triple substitution saw Barry Carton and Michael O'Hanlon brought on for the second Sunday running, along with Paul 'Yom' Nolan of Duffry Rovers who last lined out with the Wexford Seniors in 2010.

Shane Tomkins shot another point in between wides from Dunne and Michael O'Hanlon (free), with Aidan Nolan off target too before setting up Carton to make it 1-18 to 0-6.

Tomkins added another point from a free after Cathal Dunbar was taken down, before good work from Carton and Dunbar led to Michael O'Hanlon picking off a point.

Substitute Damien O'Neill managed Carlow's sole second-half point from play before David Dunne caused more problems for the defence and the free which resulted was tapped over by Tomkins just before the full-time whistle.

Wexford: Mark Fanning; Andrew Kenny, Matthew O'Hanlon (capt.), Shane O'Gorman; Andrew Shore (0-1 free), Liam Ryan, Diarmuid O'Keeffe (0-1); Lee Chin, Harry Kehoe (0-2); Joe O'Connor, Shane Tomkins (0-5, 2 frees), Aidan Nolan (0-2); Paul Morris (0-5 frees), Liam Og McGovern (0-1), Cathal Dunbar (0-1). Subs. - David Dunne (1-1) for O'Connor (45), Aaron Maddock for Chin (56), Michael O'Hanlon (0-1) for Morris (59), Barry Carton (0-1) for McGovern (59), Paul Nolan for Kehoe (59), also Darragh Hughes.

Carlow: Jack Barron; Dion Wall, Alan Corcoran, Ronan Nolan; Richard Coady, David English (0-2 frees), Diarmuid Byrne; James O'Hara (0-1 line ball), Gerard Coady; Ross Smithers, Seamus Murphy (capt.), Craig Wall; Seán Whelan (0-1), Conor Lawlor, Kevin McDonald (0-2 frees). Subs. - James Doyle for McDonald, inj. (42), Damien O'Neill (0-1) for G. Coady (59), Liam Galway for Whelan (59).

Referee: John Kennedy (Kilkenny).

Wexford People

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