Wexford suffer disappointing defeat to Defence Forces
Oscar Traynor Trophy: Wexford League 1 Defence Forces 3
Wexford Football League slumped to a disappointing defeat to a clinical Defence Forces outfit in their Oscar Traynor Trophy clash at Ferrycarrig Park on Sunday afternoon.
Ronan Kerins fired the visitors in front just after the half hour mark, and Glen Fullam doubled their advantage with 17 minutes remaining.
A Kyle Dempsey goal in the 84th minute gave the home side hope, but the Defence Forces sealed the deal when Gavin Dillon bagged their third with two minutes of regulation time remaining.
In fairness to Wexford, they created enough chances in the second-half to win the game, but found it hard to find a way past inspired goalkeeper Shane Hallahan, with top drawer saves added to some indifferent finishing proving to be their undoing.
The result means Wexford now need the Defence Forces to take something from their meeting with the Leinster Senior League in the final game in the three-team group in Crumlin tonight (Tuesday) to be sure of their passage into the knockout stages.
If the LSL, whom Wexford beat 1-0 in their opening fixture, fail to take full points from the match, Wexford would progress as runners-up, with the Defence Forces topping the group.
If the Leinster Senior League do win, it would come down to goal difference, and with Wexford on -1 it would be difficult to envisage them going through.
A LSL victory would leave them with a superior goal difference than the Slaneysiders, so the Defence Forces would have to lose by four goals or more to miss out.
With top spot the prize on Sunday, and with it the promise of a home quarter-final, Wexford would have wanted to put their opponents under pressure from the off, but instead they struggled to get any sort of rhythm going and rarely tested the visiting defence in the first-half.
Adam Beary and John Peare did have efforts that didn't trouble Hallahan, either side of a Glen Fullam shot that was straight at Lee Walker.
The visitors struck the front with 32 minutes on the clock, when former Curracloe United player Tony Smith whipped in a teasing delivery from the right, and Ronan Kerins ghosted in between two defenders to rise highest and steer a powerful header to the corner of the net.
However, the hosts had a great opportunity to go into the interval with a real pep in their step when a James Peare pass ricocheted off a defender to put Kyle Dempsey in space, but Hallahan spread himself well to deny the North End United man.
Wexford had found it difficult to open up a well-drilled Defence Forces outfit in the opening half, but they certainly upped their urgency after the change of ends and the chances started to flow.
Six minutes after the turnaround, James Peare ran on to a long punt forward from goalkeeper Lee Walker, but his effort lacked the power to trouble Hallahan.
The netminder dealt admirably with a stinging effort from Adam Beary in the 57th minute, while moments later Kyle Dempsey controlled a Paul Murphy cross but saw his shot on goal blocked.
John Peare showed great footwork to waltz his way into the box just past the hour mark, before teeing up Beary, but his effort and Dempsey's follow-up were both stopped by the goalkeeper.
The visitors weathered the storm though and grabbed their second with 73 minutes on the clock, when Tony Smith fizzed in another telling cross and Glen Fullam turned the ball to the net from close range.
Wexford didn't give up hope of rescuing the point that would have seen them safely through to the quarter-final, and Dempsey was again denied by Hallahan after Gary Delaney headed the ball into his path.
The goal did come with just over six minutes remaining, and Dempsey was the man to apply the finish. Hallahan could only palm away a Paul Murphy cross from the right into the path of substitute Niall Connolly, and he picked out his clubmate Dempsey, who swept the ball to the net.
Any hopes of a fightback were well and truly scuppered in the 89th minute and Wexford were the authors of their own misfortune.
Ian Sinnott's attempted back pass was badly underhit, and the alert Gavin Dillon nipped in to take the ball around Walker, before squeezing the ball to the net from a prohibitive angle.
Goalkeeper Shane Hallahan was given one more chance to show his worth deep into injury time when he dived to his left to push away a well-struck Paul Murphy free-kick.
Wexford Football League: Lee Walker, Alan Freeman, Ian Sinnott (capt.), Gary Delaney, Craig McCabe, Kyle Dempsey, Ricky Fox, Paul Murphy, Adam Beary, John Peare, James Peare. Subs. - Niall Connolly for Beary (65), Matty Kavanagh for James Peare (70), Emmet Quirke for John Peare (76), Todd Hynes for Freeman (78), John O'Connor for Fox (87), also Shane Pettit, Jason McGuire.
Defence Forces: Shane Hallahan, Ross McCarthy, Conor Marlow, Chris Doolan, Craig Doran, Tony Smith, Ray McCann, Adrian Rafferty, Gavin Dillon, Glen Fullam, Ronan Kerins. Subs. - David Long for Marlow (65), Dean Tilley for Smith (75), Darren Mullarkey for Kerins (77).
Referee: Derek Campion.