Wexford grab goals required
Super second-half showing
The second 45 minutes proved a real game-changer as the Wexford Youths League struck for seven dramatic goals to overturn an up to then determined Tipperary League in this crucial F.A.I. Youth Inter-League Trophy group game at Ramstown, Gorey, on Saturday.
Wexford 7 - Tipperary 1
With the Waterford League already qualified from the group, it was only goal difference that was going to separate the Wexford League from their neighbours, Kilkenny League. From the outset the Wexford boys had been set a daunting task as they needed to win by five clear goals to secure a quarter-final spot, but when they fell adrift to a 33rd-minute goal from a penalty they looked in an impossible position.
All the talk at the interval was that it was going to take a real miracle for the Wexford League to salvage anything from this game. They had faced a daunting task from the outset, but now had just 45 minutes to salvage their campaign. This looked an impossible mission given their lack-lustre opening 45 minutes when they seldom looked like pulling even one goal back.
But the reality of the situation is that the Wexford boys were a transformed side on the resumption. The struggle which seemed to have affected their first-half display had all but disappeared. They now began to show an understanding in their play as they continually powered forward with some quality football, leaving an up to then confident Tipperary outfit with their backs to the wall.
The opening 45 minutes would best be forgotten from the home side's perspective, but one had to admire the neat football of their opponents, leading to a couple of early chances that saw Denis Haverty and Stevie Daly having efforts which fly just wide.
At the opposite end the home side didn't apply any real pressure in front of goal, being restricted to a couple of long-range efforts from Seamus Casey which did not trouble 'keeper Paddy Dunne.
Tipperary League were developing a real pattern to their game through their neat and accurate passing, and a Tom Aherne through ball saw Denis Haverty brought down by Paul O'Shea, leaving Gerard Murphy to tuck the penalty into the right-hand corner of the net and giving his side a 1-0 interval lead.
The Wexford boys on the resumption began to bring some pattern to their game. They received a huge boost within two minutes of the re-start when Dale Kirwan beat the 'keeper to a long ball before lifting his effort to the top corner of the net, making it 1-1.
With still a vast amount of work to do, the home side continued to press forward, taking a 57th-minute lead with a fine left-footed effort from Kirwan. Five minutes later they gave themselves real hope when an Eric Quinn left-footed effort found its way through a crowded goalmouth to end in the right-hand corner of the net, making it 3-1.
Now playing with authority, the home side were ripping the visitors' back four apart, with Seamus Casey making it 4-1 after 65 minutes. Nine minutes from the end an Eric Quinn left-footed shot from outside the area made it 5-1, leading to a tense closing nine minutes as the home side sought out that crucial sixth goal.
When it did arrive seven minutes from the end it was worth waiting for as Dan Brennan rose to an Ivan Meighan corner kick to powerfully head home from ten metres, but the seventh and final goal proved the score of the game.
Substitute Dale Kirwan completed his hat-trick with a powerful 25-metre shot to the top right-hand corner of the net, a goal that really secured his side's passage through to the quarter-final with Dublin North.
Wexford showed their fighting form in that dramatic second-half which will be remembered as one of the finest comebacks in the history of under-age soccer in the county. They will now look forward to the quarter-final but they will not want to repeat that first-half display.
Wexford Youths League: Dylan Furlong, Martin O'Connor, Eric Quinn, Paul O'Shea, Brian Cullen, Conor Gibson, Seamus Casey, Adam Prendergast, Dessie Farrell, Dan Brennan, Ivan Meighan. Subs. - Dale Donohoe, Dale Kirwan, Dion Leeson, John Tormey, Joseph O'Byrne, Aaron Goodison, Cian O'Connor, Cormac Kehoe.
Tipperary League: Paddy Dunne, Tommy Teehan, Craig Milmi, Gerard Murphy, Dara McDonnell, Tom Aherne, Francis Monaghan, Dylan Kennedy, Stevie Daly, Denis Haverty, Seán O'Meara. Sub. - Adam Carey.
Referee: Nicky Boland.