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Combined side coast into next round
The combined Wexford Schools were simply in a different class in the Halo Tiles and Bathrooms Wexford G.A.A. Centre of Excellence in Ferns on Saturday when they handed their Westmeath counterparts a lesson they won't forget in a hurry to start the Top Oil Leinster Post-Primary Senior hurling 'A' championship campaign on a real high.
Wexford Schools 12-17 Westmeath 1-4
The home side passed their opening test with first class honours, but no doubt their mentors were quick to remind them that a far more searching test will follow at home to Dublin North this Saturday.
Westmeath may have grabbed an early goal, but it proved a false dawn as the Wexford lads shut up shop and went on to dominate to such an extent that they led by a commanding 5-8 to 1-2 at half-time.
Centre-forward Liam Pender rattled in a hat-trick of goals before the break, with the other two coming from prolific marksman Chris Turner who needed only 25 seconds on the re-start to join him on three majors.
Lively corner-forward Reece Broaders added a brace, with Turner availing of an unforced error to knock in the twelfth, and his fourth, in the 56th minute.
Prior to that three of the substitutes had also raised green flags, with Conor Nolan, Cian Fitzhenry and Cathal Doyle all underlining their desire to be part of the first 15 next time out.
The backs were underworked but dealt capably with anything that came their way, well marshalled by last year's county Minor Jack Cullen who was on the ball a lot in the pivotal position.
The midfielders supplied plentiful possession to the lethal attackers, with James Kelly also contributing four points and receiving full support from Charlie McGuckin whose father, Shane, is an All-Ireland medal winner with Offaly.
It took just 16 seconds for Jack Reck to pick off the first Wexford point, but Reece Broaders couldn't convert a goal chance from a pass across the square by Diarmuid Doyle before Westmeath took the lead for the only time. It came in the second minute when Mikey Mullen forced the ball to the net from the rebound after James Lawlor saved his first attempt.
Points from Diarmuid Doyle and Chris Turner (free) steadied the ship before the latter goaled from a Broaders pass, punishing the first of several errors by a poor Westmeath back line.
Wexford were intent on going for the jugular, trying for goals at every opportunity, and one could forgive them their eleven first-half wides as they also picked off a string of fine scores.
Liam Pender drove a screamer into the far top corner of the net after a Diarmuid Doyle run and handpass in the 17th minute, and already Westmeath heads were beginning to drop.
The next goal came from Chris Turner with a good old-fashioned pull after a move started by a Cormac Byrne catch at the other end.
Another shot destined for the same top corner, this time from Diarmuid Doyle, was saved at the expense of a '65 which eventually ended in a point for Pender.
It was 3-7 to 1-2 by the 27th minute, and what little hope remained for the midlanders disappeared altogether in less than 40 seconds when Pender added his second and third goals.
A determined run by Reece Broaders, and another neat solo and handpass by Diarmuid Doyle, created the chances for the Duffry Rovers dynamo who finished emphatically on both occasions.
Wexford are entitled to select from every second level school in the county bar Good Counsel and St. Peter's, and they weren't interested in easing off when play resumed.
Instead a pulled pass by Cathal Walsh found Chris Turner who knocked home his third goal after a mere 25 seconds.
Reece Broaders opened his personal account with a point before racing through for a goal, and he added a second major from another Walsh assist midway through the third quarter (8-9 to 1-3).
The bench was gradually emptied but without diminishing the overall strength of the team or upsetting the rhythm which is always a good sign.
Conor Nolan claimed the ninth goal in the 50th minute after a Diarmuid Doyle shot was stopped, while he then turned provider with an unselfish handpass which Cian Fitzhenry batted in.
Cathal Doyle pulled the rebound to the net after a Jack O'Leary effort was saved, and goal number twelve followed when a Westmeath defender fumbled the ball into the path of a grateful Chris Turner who was also responsible for the only two points for the victors that didn't come from open play.
Wexford Colleges: James Lawlor (Ferns St. Aidan's); Seán Murphy (Oulart-The Ballagh), Eoin Molloy (Naomh Eanna), Cormac Byrne (Faythe Harriers); Paddy Barron (Rathgarogue-Cushinstown), Jack Cullen (Naomh Eanna), Ross Coady (Liam Mellows); James Kelly (Davidstown-Courtnacuddy, 0-4), Charlie McGuckin (Naomh Eanna, 0-1); Jack Reck (Oylegate-Glenbrien, 0-1), Liam Pender (Duffry Rovers, 3-2), Cathal Walsh (Monageer-Boolavogue); Reece Broaders (St. Mary's, Rosslare, 2-1), Chris Turner (Ferns St. Aidan's, 4-4, 0-2 frees), Diarmuid Doyle (Marshalstown-Castledockrell, 0-1). Subs. - Cathal Doyle (HWH-Bunclody, 1-1) for Reck (36), Conor Nolan (Oylegate-Glenbrien, 1-2) for Pender (42), Edward Dunbar (HWH-Bunclody) for Walsh (45), Chris Cowman (Shelmaliers) for McGuckin (47), Cian Fitzhenry (Duffry Rovers, 1-0) for Broaders (51), Jack O'Leary (Faythe Harriers) for D. Doyle (53), also Adam Howlin (Shelmaliers), Paddy O'Hagan (Ferns St. Aidan's), Michael Gahan (Monageer-Boolavogue), Tom White (Oylegate-Glenbrien), Eoin Cullen (Liam Mellows), Conor Scallan (Ferns St. Aidan's).
Westmeath Colleges: Brian McHugh; Ryan Moore, Charles Flynn, Pádraig Tormey; Evan Burke, Fiachra Heeney, Conor Shaw; Ciarán O'Brien (0-4, 3 frees), Shane Broughan; Evan Gorman, Pádraig Kane, Eoin Daly; Mikey Mullen (1-0), Marcus Kennedy, Karl Farrelly. Subs. - Paddy Coyne for Flynn (HT), Eoin Ahern for Burke (HT), Khassim Carey for Daly (36), Conor McKeogh for Farrelly (36), Jordan Williams for Gorman (44), Robert Coyne for Tormey (48).
Referee: Patrick Murphy (Carlow).