Wexford share the spoils in opener
Wexford League 0 A.U.L. (Dublin) 0
Wexford Football League made a solid, but unspectacular, start to their Oscar Traynor Trophy campaign as they were held to a scoreless stalemate at Ferrycarrig Park on Sunday.
It was a game of very few chances, and in truth a draw was about right as both sides struggled to make any sort of inroads in the final third.
The A.U.L. were represented by champions Usher Celtic and their familiarity with each other was evident from their greater cohesion early on as the Wexford players took time to gel in their first competitive outing.
That said, the hosts looked solid at the back for the most part, with North End's Gary Delaney and Paul Murphy of Gorey Rangers exuding confidence at the heart of their defence.
Conor Casserly put in a good shift in the right full-back position and he had to be alert in the tenth minute when Jordan Buckley broke clear, getting back smartly to snuff out the danger.
Three minutes later when a Wayne Walker cross was cleared it fell to Buckley on the edge of the area but his shot was blocked, while in the 20th minute Jason Ivory fizzed a free-kick narrowly over the top.
The Slaneysiders gradually improved as the first-half wore on, and a couple of Rioghan Crosbie dead-ball deliveries into the box threatened to produce something for the home side.
However, the Dubliners came closest to making the breakthrough in the 28th minute when Buckley cut into the box and whipped a ball across the face of goal that was begging to be touched to the net, and seconds later Gerard Jordan pirouetted and curled a shot wide of the right post.
With Gavin O'Brien and Conor Bruce getting more of a foothold in midfield, gaps started to appear for the Wexford attack. Rioghan Crosbie hit the left side-netting from a tight angle in the 33rd minute and moments later James Peare repeated the trick from the other wing.
In the 37th minute captain Gary Delaney rose highest to head a dangerous Crosbie corner over the top, while Chris Atkinson squirmed a half-chance wide in first-half injury time. In between those two efforts Troy Carey had a sight of goal at the other end after being teed up by Jason Ivory, but he scooped his shot over the crossbar.
Immediately after referee Derek Campion had sounded his whistle for the start of the second-half, Troy Carey played a through ball to Jordan Buckley and he fired wide from a prohibitive angle, but sadly it wasn't a sign that the game was about to open up, as chances became even more scarce than in the opening period.
Wexford were crying out for a bit of extra creativity in midfield as they struggled to carve open the A.U.L. defence, and when the lively John Peare was forced off through injury early in the second-half their task became even more difficult.
In the 68th minute Conor Casserly did well to tigerishly win back possession before releasing substitute James Billy Byrne with a searching, long-range pass, but the A.U.L. defence managed to get back in numbers to cut out the danger.
Wayne Walker couldn't get enough power on his shot to trouble his namesake Lee with 15 minutes remaining, and A.U.L. substitute Gareth Kilkenny fired well wide moments later.
Wexford centre-half Paul Murphy glanced a header off target from a Dillon Redmond corner with 84 minutes on the clock, before the visitors came close to snatching all three points in injury time.
Jordan Buckley played a good one-two with Kilkenny, but he dwelt on the ball too long when he should have taken the shot on early and Wexford survived.
Willie Peare's charges should benefit from having a game under their belts, and they now have two away trips against Kilkenny and Wicklow to look forward to as they bid to progress from the group.
Wexford Football League: Lee Walker, Conor Casserly, Gary Delaney (capt.), Paul Murphy, Stephen Moloney, John Peare, Gavin O'Brien, Conor Bruce, Rioghan Crosbie, Adam Territ-King, Chris Atkinson. Subs. - James Peare for Territ-King, inj. (15), Seán Burke for John Peare, inj. (55), James Billy Byrne for Atkinson (64), Dillon Redmond for Crosbie (71), also Jason McGuire.
A.U.L.: Karl Lynam, Graham Curran, Robert Martin, Leroy Staunton (capt.), Calvin Douglas, Gerard Jordan, Jason Ivory, Glen Reddy, Wayne Walker, Troy Carey, Jordan Buckley. Subs. - Seán Martin for Reddy (58), Tony Grouse for Jordan (69), Gareth Kilkenny for Carey (74), also Dwayne Edgar, Wesley Doyle, Graham Murphy.
Referee: Derek Campion.