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Sunday 26 January 2020

Wexford fall to Laois in second successive loss

O'Byrne Cup: Wexford 1-11 Laois 1-12

Wexford’s Conor Devitt looks to get away from Brian Byrne and Robert Pigott of Laois
Wexford’s Conor Devitt looks to get away from Brian Byrne and Robert Pigott of Laois

Brendan Furlong at St. Patrick's Park

Wexford are still waiting for their first victory under new manager Paul Galvin following their single-point defeat to Laois in the Bord na Mona O'Byrne Cup second round game played at St. Patrick's Park, Enniscorthy, on Saturday last.

Wexford looked to have snatched a draw when an additional-time Colm Feeney goal brought the sides level, but a lack of concentration on the resulting kick-out allowed Laois to launch one final attack to salvage a game that looked within their grasp until that late strike.

But with time running out it was forward debutant Mark Barry who worked his way into position close to the end line following which he drew the foul, and he came to his side's rescue with the pointed free handing them the narrowest of victories leaving Wexford disappointed and still waiting for their opening victory having lost to Westmeath seven days earlier.

Paul Galvin took charge of the side on this occasion and fielded a much stronger side, but the main talking point in the sparse attendance was the omission of a number of more experienced players from his squad. At this early stage it looks as if Galvin is building a new and young squad which could make for a testing season ahead.

Wexford started brightly with an Eoghan Nolan point inside the opening minute, but it was Laois who quickly served notice of their potential in attack when full-forward Colm Murphy brought a fine save out of keeper Pa Doyle after just three minutes.

Laois showed that they would punish indiscipline in the home defence when Ross Munnelly pointed two successive frees, but having put that spell behind them, Wexford showed more intent when moving forward kicking four unanswered points through Sean Ryan, Jonathan Bealin, free, and two from corner-forward Ben Brosnan, who shortly afterwards was forced to retire with a leg injury, as his side led 0-5 to 0-2 after eleven minutes.

While Laois were in experimental mode under their new manager, Kerry's Mike Quirke, they still showed they were out to atone for their opening game defeat to Louth, as Munnelly reduced the deficit with a pointed free while minutes later a long-range Diarmuid Whelan point left the minimum, 0-5 to 0-4 separating the sides, after twenty minutes.

Colm Feeney and Munnelly exchanged further points before Laois struck for the opening goal after twenty-four minutes when Mark Barry having won possession to the right of goal rifled a low shot across keeper Doyle into the opposite corner of the net, giving his side a 1-5 to 0-6 lead.

Both sides were endeavoring to play attacking football which was to prove difficult as control was not easy in the bitingly cold conditions, but it was Laois who finished the half strong, adding further points through a long-range Diarmuid Whelan effort, to go along with a Mark Barry point, leaving them with a 1-7 to 0-6 interval lead.

After the sides had exchanged opening second-half points through Colm Feeney, from a 45, and Brian Daly, it was Wexford who hit a purple patch adding two points through Feeney, one play, one free, the free a superb kick from way out on the sideline under the stand, and Jonathan Bealin to leave the minimum, 1-8 to 0-10 separating the sides after sixty minutes, with Wexford now looking very much back in contention.

Laois, through the accuracy of Barry and full-forward Colm Murphy, restored their three points advantage, but Wexford kept on battling with a Tom Byrne point leaving just the minimum separating the sides, 1-9 to 0-11.

Laois responded with points from Mark Barry and a fine individual effort from substitute Sean Michael Corcoran, and leading 1-11 to 0-11 entering additional time they looked like holding until Feeney's additional time goal, as the Adamstown attacker was quick to react to a breaking ball to send a strong shot to the corner of the net bringing the sides level, 1-11 each, two minutes into additional time.

But it was then that Wexford's lack of experience saw them exposed to a quick Laois counter attack on the kick-out and it was Barry's pointed free that handed Mike Quirke's side a late victory, giving them their first victory of the campaign, while the Wexford men bow out with a second successive defeat.

For Wexford it was a disappointing end following an encouraging recovery late on, and it showed that manager Galvin has quite a lot of work on his hands before the commencement of the national league campaign.

Wexford: Pa Doyle; Oisin Foley, Jim Rossiter, Martin O'Connor; Robbie Barron, Eoin Porter, Conor Carty; Eoghan Nolan (0-1), Glen Malone; Conor Devitt, Jonathan Bealin (0-2, 1f), Tom Byrne (0-1); Ben Brosnan (0-2), Colm Feeney (1-4, 1f, 1 45), Sean Ryan (0-1). Subs: Mark Rossiter for Brosnan (inj. 13), John Dunne for Ryan (h/t), James Stafford for Devitt (h/t), Rory Heffernan for Porter (inj. h/t), Ronan Devereux for Nolan (63), Robbie Brooks for Bealin (70).

Laois: Eoghan Keogh; Brian Byrne, Gearoid Hanrahan, Shane Bolger; Patrick O'Sullivan, Seamus Lacey, Robert Pigott; John O'Loughlin, Sean Byrne; Mark Barry (1-3, 1f), Brian Daly (0-1), Diarmuid Whelan (0-2); Ross Munnelly (0-4, 4f), Colm Murphy (0-1), Alan Kinsella. Subs: Trevor Collins for Pigott (47), Barry Howlin for Munnelly (49); Robert Tyrell for Daly (56), Trevor Collins for Byrne (64), Sean Michael Corcoran (0-1) for Whelan (68).

Referee: Lee Moore (Kildare).

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