Slaneysiders surrender provincial title
Galway were cruising before Wexford were reduced to 14 men
Wexford's reign as Leinster Intermediate hurling champions was ended in emphatic manner by new kids on the block Galway in a low-key and one-sided contest watched by a small crowd in O'Moore Park, Portlaoise on Wednesday.
Galway 1-20 Wexford 0-11
The outcome was a foregone conclusion by the interval when the holders trailed by nine points, having failed to score from play in the opening half.
It looked like an all-out rout could be on the cards when they were reduced to 14 men inside four minutes of the re-start, but to be fair to those who remained, Wexford's best spell followed for quarter of an hour.
They never looked like bridging that large gap though, and tired legs were duly punished in the closing stages when Galway picked off the last five points to comfortably advance to an All-Ireland final clash with Cork next month.
Wexford manager Seamus Murphy had outlined the difficulties in gathering a team in last week's newspaper, so it was no surprise to witness such an insipid performance against a group of players anxious to impress Senior mentors Anthony Cunningham and Eugene Cloonan who are also part of this backroom crew.
The action had the air of a leisurely challenge rather than a Leinster final from an early stage, and unfortunately that was largely down to Wexford's inability to compete against the westerners who had impressed in a commanding semi-final win over Kilkenny.
That earlier game certainly stood to the victors, and they were quickly off the mark as the first of their 15 wides, from Shane Maloney, was followed by a long-range point from James Regan inside a minute.
Joe Kelly levelled in the third minute after Eamon Brannigan over-carried, but Galway added 1-3 before Wexford troubled the scoreboard operator again. Wing-back Paul Flaherty had the freedom of the right flank to restore the Connacht side's lead before the game's only goal arrived in the eighth minute.
Centre-back Darragh Burke caught a Dermot Flynn puck-out and fed Shane Maloney who made ground before passing unselfishly to Brian Molloy, and the top-scoring number 13 rattled the net. Molloy and the rampant Flaherty added points as Galway made full use of the wind and their general superiority, stretching their lead to 1-4 to 0-1 after ten minutes.
Glynn-Barntown colleagues Michael O'Regan and John Leacy had shot Wexford wides from the team's overall tally of seven, while Joe Kelly also missed a very easy free before splitting the posts in the 15th minute after Galway defender Paul Flaherty was booked for a challenge on team captain Tommy Dwyer.
Dermot Flynn, who performed well between the posts, made a good save from a head-high Conor Whelan shot destined for the left corner after a Dean Higgins delivery, with Shane Maloney converting the '65 which resulted (1-5 to 0-2).
The Wexford mentors decided to give Jim Berry a roving commission around midfield, with Tomás O'Leary moving to the left wing, Joe Kelly going into the corner, and Mark Maloney dropping back to offer additional defensive cover.
And while the flow of Galway scores was stemmed somewhat during the second quarter, they still outscored the opposition by 0-4 to 0-1 to lead by 1-9 to 0-3 at the break.
James Regan hit another fine effort from close to the sideline before Joe Kelly punished a second over-carrying offence, this time by Kevin McHugo, with the third Wexford point in the 20th minute.
The fourth wide followed from John Leacy before a Kelly free struck the post and was cleared, with the move ending in a Galway point for Eanna Burke.
Wing-back Paul Flaherty's third point from play, this time from a Darragh Burke pass, prompted the mentors to move Joe Kelly back out to the half-forward line on the right while Barry Carton went into the left corner.
Kelly was short from a '65 into the wind before Galway nearly added a second goal in the last minute of normal time when Conor Whelan handpassed inside to Brian Molloy, but his flick over the advancing Dermot Flynn luckily went over rather than under the bar.
Galway's nine-point lead was stretched to double figures within two minutes of the re-start when Shane Moloney converted a free, after Joe Kelly had under-hit a point attempt at the other end.
James Regan followed up with a wide for the leaders, and Wexford centre-forward John Leacy duly got his marching orders for a very early pull on Darragh Burke as both stood under Dermot Flynn's puck-out.
The red card was inevitable, and it left Wexford facing an utterly impossible task, one man and ten points down with 25 minutes left.
To their credit, it made them wake up though and their opening score from play finally arrived in the 36th minute when Michael O'Hanlon's crossfield pass was pointed by Jim Berry.
The introduction of Senior panel member Tomás Waters at centre-back added some steel, although the likelihood of Galway surrending their healthy lead never seriously existed.
A Joe Kelly point from play was sandwiched in between scores at the other end from Conor Whelan and Brian Molloy, with a solo effort from Tommy Dwyer making it 1-12 to 0-6 after 39 minutes.
Kelly, from a Jim Berry pass, raised another white flag before a double substitution saw former Senior Tomás Mahon and Jamie Reck enter the fray for Mark Maloney and Barry Carton respectively.
James Regan's third good point from near the sideline restored Galway's advantage of nine, but Wexford's brightest passage arrived midway through the half when they managed three points without reply in a five-minute spell.
A good catch by Jim Berry ended with Michael O'Hanlon finding his range, although Wexford then enjoyed a lucky escape when Brian Molloy took too many steps before hitting the net again.
A foul on O'Hanlon was punished by Joe Kelly, and the margin was down to six when Tommy Dwyer earned another placed ball which was finished off in the 47th minute (1-13 to 0-10).
It didn't get any better than that though for Wexford, whose three second-half wides came from Joe Kelly (two, one free) and Jamie Reck. Normal service was restored for Galway as Dean Higgins and Shane Maloney grabbed points, with the last score for the losers arriving in the 53rd minute when Jim Berry was impeded and Joe Kelly landed his sixth free (1-15 to 0-11).
There was plenty of space for Galway to exploit in the closing stages, and they made the most of it as their winning margin was widened to twelve points with unanswered scores from Shane Maloney, substitute Ronan O'Meara, Brian Molloy, Conor Whelan and O'Meara again.
It brought an evening to forget to an inevitable end, leaving Wexford to go back to the drawing board for 2016 and hopefully changing their ways.
Wexford: Dermot Flynn (Rathnure); Brendan Mulligan (Faythe Harriers), James Breen (Adamstown), James Tonks (Ferns St. Aidan's); Pat Kenny (Buffers Alley), Michael O'Regan (Glynn-Barntown), Paul Nolan (Duffry Rovers); Tommy Dwyer (Ferns St. Aidan's, capt., 0-1), Mark Maloney (St. Martin's); Barry Carton (Cloughbawn), John Leacy (Glynn-Barntown), Joe Kelly (Shelmaliers, 0-8, 6 frees); Tomás O'Leary (Buffers Alley), Michael O'Hanlon (Horeswood, 0-1), Jim Berry (Faythe Harriers, 0-1). Subs. - Tomás Waters (St. Martin's) for O'Regan (36), Tomás Mahon (Rapparees) for Maloney (40), Jamie Reck (Oylegate-Glenbrien) for Carton (40), Walter Furlong (Davidstown-Courtnacuddy) for O'Leary (49), Jonny Dwyer (Ferns St. Aidan's) for Kelly (60), also Peter O'Brien (Blackwater), Alan Nolan (Taghmon-Camross), Kevin Courtney (Rapparees), Eoin Boggan (Ballypickas, Laois), Ciarán Roberts (Ferns St. Aidan's), Diarmuid Murphy (Blackwater), Garry Doran (Askamore).
Galway: James Skehill (capt.); Colm Flynn, Darra O'Donoghue, Adrian Tuohy; Shane Cooney, Darragh Burke, Paul Flaherty (0-3); Kevin McHugo, Dean Higgins (0-1); Eanna Burke (0-1), James Regan (0-3), Eamon Brannigan; Brian Molloy (1-4), Conor Whelan (0-2), Shane Maloney (0-4, 1 '65, 1 free). Subs. - Dan Nevin for McHugo (40), Ronan O'Meara for Tuohy, temp. (41-47), O'Meara (0-2) for E. Burke (52), Jason Kennedy for Brannigan (52), Emmett Mahony for Cooney (57), Barry Keane for O'Donoghue (59).
Referee: Peter Burke (Kilkenny).