Under-15s enjoy dream start
Wexford F.C. 9 Cobh Ramblers 0
It's not every day in Wexford that a completely new team plays its first-ever competitive match at national level.
Aside from the weather, which was atrocious, a greater occasion could not have been planned for Wexford F.C's inaugural game in the SSE Airtricity Under-15 League.
With Gorey Rangers using this occasion to launch their new partnership with the Ferrycarrig club, the game in Ramstown also marked the official opening of the 'Hoxey' Travers Memorial pitch.
With the sides being led out to the ring of bagpipes, Wexford and opponents Cobh Ramblers cast their focuses towards kick-off and the long-awaited season opener.
The opening day of the season, for a newly-formed squad, in the cascading rain meant that free-flowing football may have taken a back seat. That was certainly true in the early stages, with the greasy pitch making for a frantic start as both sides looked to work each other out.
Despite the tension that a big home crowd can bring, Wexford grew into the game quickest. It helped that captain Kyle Scallan leaped highest to nod Darragh Levingston's corner into the top right corner of the net in the seventh minute.
There were early signs that the Cork side were in for a difficult afternoon with Wexford's high pressure limiting their time on the ball and causing turnovers deep in their own half.
Sure enough, Wexford had the ball in the net again just four minutes later. Darragh Levingston, who had started the game brightly, dispossessed defender Luke O'Sullivan and lashed home at the near post.
With the game still in the melting pot, there was no lack of aggression and motivation in the Model side. Luke Green and Graham O'Reilly were winning the majority of their 50/50s in the middle of the pitch and Wexford were prospering as a result.
Levingston pulled a save out of Josh Toomey from a central free-kick before Brody Murphy intercepted a wayward pass from the Cobh netminder, finding Green who blazed an effort over the bar.
If Wexford's first two goals weren't picture perfect, the third certainly was.
Levingston superbly picked out O'Reilly who chipped a ball over the Cork back line into the path of Cormac Bruce, and the winger half-volleyed into the bottom left corner.
While Wexford dominated the remainder of the half, they failed to create any more clearcut opportunities. O'Reilly sliced over the bar from the edge of the box while more high pressure from Murphy almost created another gilt-edged chance.
With the rain still spilling after the re-start and the Yellowbellies intent on finishing the game off, they struck within two minutes of play resuming. Substitute Brian Byrne picked up on a loose ball and placed it past Toomey from 15 yards.
Byrne got his second in the 45th minute as Wexford began to canter.
Another Levingston corner was met with a powerful header across goal which wrong-footed Toomey and found the side of the net.
After the frantic opening half, the game was opening up for Wexford as they laid siege with attack after attack.
The football had been tidied up as well, with the Ferrycarrig side retaining greater possession and attacking with free-flowing passing moves.
The intelligent Cian Kinlough played a major part in the sixth.
His weaving in and out of Cobh defenders resulted in a pinpoint cross, flicked on by Byrne and toed into the net by James Dowling at the back post.
Byrne then completed what was an extremely impressive 19-minute hat-trick from another set-piece. Scallan's header across goal left the dangerous striker with the easiest of finishes at the back post.
The captain got on the scoresheet again just five minutes after his assist as double figures began to look possible.
His deflected shot found its way past Toomey who could only get fingertips on the ball.
Byrne completed the scoring in injury time with his fourth in just 40 minutes of action. Dowling flicked a beautifully weighted pass into his path as the Carlow native finished clinically on his first touch.
Wexford's convincing win grants them a spot at the top of the Group 3 table at this early stage, and their first away game of the season will be played next Monday, August 28, away to the Kerry League.
Wexford: Cian Browne; Seán O'Brien-Murphy, Kyle Scallan (capt.), Cormac Doyle, Shane Gibson; Luke Green, Graham O'Reilly, Darragh Levingston, Evan Farrell, Cormac Bruce; Brody Murphy. Subs. (rolling) - David Murphy, Dylan Whelan, Mark Atkin, Brian Byrne, Darragh McGuire, Rian Fitzpatrick, James Dowling, Cian Kinlough.
Cobh Ramblers: Josh Toomey; Kane Rowlands, Eoin McGrath, Luke O'Sullivan, Sam O'Driscoll; Cillian O'Shea, Jake Lynch, Tiernan O'Brien, Kaylem Keane; Bradley Walsh (capt.), Victor Ugwah. Subs. (rolling) - Ryan O'Connor, Adam Hastings, Kyle Harrington, Callum Clarke, Josh McCarthy.
Referee: Brendan Holohan (Wexford).