Wexford kick off campaign with solid victory
Wexford kicked off their SFAI Under-16 Leinster Inter-League campaign with a classy performance and solid victory over Wicklow in Curracloe on Saturday lunchtime last.
Wexford 2 Wicklow 0
With just the group winners out of the six teams qualifying for the national semi-finals a fast start is imperative and Wexford got it. Indeed, on the balance of chances the margin of victory could, and should, have been wider.
Windy conditions were hardly ideal for passing football but both sides set about playing the game on the deck. That said, Wicklow's best chances came from set pieces and that's a testament to how well the hosts defended as a unit.
One of those opportunities came in the fifth minute when Jack Manly's long free eventually fell to Daniel Doyle but the attacker scooped over. Wexford themselves were having trouble hitting the target with Kevin Kenny, Cian Cowman and Ryan Furlong all failing to test Joe McDonald between the sticks.
When Cowman did find his range McDonald showed impressive reactions to keep the ball out. At the other end Manly drilled a long range free-kick, from inside the centre circle, on the breeze but narrowly over the crossbar.
As the second quarter wore on Wexford began to create more clear cut chances.
Michael Andrews' free kick was hooked off the visitors goalline, Kenny hared away from the last defender but his shot was saved by McDonald and Cowman chipped inches over the angle of post and bar.
However, the charmed life of the Wicklow goal didn't last until half-time.
With just three minutes left Andrews picked up possession on the left edge of the area and curled a shot through a smattering of bodies into the far bottom corner of McDonald's net.
Wexford deserved lead nearly disappeared inside a minute. First Callum Feeney stood rooted to his line as Evan Murphy's back header fizzed past the post. The Wexford goalkeeper had to be at his best from the resulting corner to prevent a Stephen Finlay shot creeping past him.
Apart from a Manly effort that Feeney easily saved five minutes from full-time, Wicklow rarely threatened after the resumption. At the other end of the field McDonald made several stunning saves.
The first was from point-black range from Cowman.
He stopped a Paddy Barron header and a powerful Darragh Kent shot.
However, the Superman performance couldn't prevent substitute Sean Delaney poking home from Kent's corner in the 55th minute.
Wexford had chances to add to their advantage with Barron and Delaney both going close on a couple of occasions but it mattered little as the Slaneysiders head into their second clash with DDSL in five weeks time with plenty of confidence on the back of this showing.
WEXFORD: Callum Feeney; Danny Farrell, Evan Murphy (capt), Michael Roche, Ryan Furlong; Michael Andrews, Paddy Barron; Fionn Byrne, Kevin Kenny, Darragh Kent; Cian Cowman. Subs. - Sean Delaney for Byrne (50), Stephen Casserly for Kenny (57), Denis Shoyebu for Furlong (64), Evan Ryan for Roche (71), Charlie Carney for Kent (71), also, Joshua Burke.
WICKLOW: Joe McDonald; Neil Dodd, Lee Turner, Jack Manly, Aaron Tuke; Paddy Reynolds, Cian Morrissey, Conor Odlum; Daniel Doyle, Stephen Finlay, Rowan Murray. Subs. - Glenn Dunne for Tuke (55), Conor Devlin for Doyle (58), also, David Ghiurcan.
REFEREE: Damien Donovan.