2 games 2 codes 2 lots of extra time….
Wexford GAA followers had a difficult day today. Hurlers playing Clare in Thurles in Phase 3 of the qualifiers while the footballers had to travel to Longford in Rd 2 of the football qualifiers.
Hurling in sweltering heat in excess of 30C the Wexford had a quiet first half and trailed by 1-10 to 0-7 having played against a light breeze.
In the second half we tried to claw back the lead but Clare responded each time to stay 5-6 points ahead. As full time approached we had closed the gap to 4 points 1-17 to 0-16 when late substitute and debutante Conor McDonald tapped over a point when we had a goal chance blocked.
The puck out landed in our half back line where Ciaran Kenny leaped high and caught the ball, drove forward and hit a long ball towards the Clare goal, Jack Guiney grabbed it, turned past one marker , was pulled by another then unleashed a rasper to the roof of the net and the sides were level. Full time was blown and extra time beckoned.
Clare started well and then within a few minutes they ran at our tired defenders created three goal chances and scored two great goals. We went in for this last break 9 points down and looking out of the championship.
It took a while to raise the spirit in this last period but eventually the lads got going. They created 3 goal chances themselves, all from good work by Jack Guiney. The first his grabbed a great ball turned and shot but it was blocked on the line. The second he raced in from the wing and tried to place a left handed shot into the top corner but it hit the post and was cleared. Then he grabbed another high ball feigned to shoot but passed to young McDonald whose shot across the goal went just wide.
So no luck and a ten point defeat was not deserved. Progress has been made. We lost at this stage lst year in the same stadium to a Munster team (Cork) by 10 points but this time we were much more competitive. With the U21 success in Leinster the future is a lot brighter and work must continue.
Scorers for Clare: C Ryan 0-10 (3 ’65, 6f), C McInerney 2-1, S O’Donnell 1-1, T Kelly 0-5 (0-1 pen), J Conlon 0-3, M Collins 0-1, S Morey 0-1, B Bugler 0-1, A Cunningham 0-1
Scorers for Wexford: J Guiney 1-8 (1 ’65, 5f), D Redmond 0-2, P Morris 0-2, P Doran 0-2, C Kenny 0-1, G Sinnott 0-1, G Moore 0-1, C McDonald 0-1, G Morris 0-1, M O’Regan 0-1
Attentions then turned to Longford and round 2 of the football qualifiers.
Again a poor first half, much quieter than we have come to expect from these great players. Longford looked good and led at the break by 0-8 to 0-4
JJ Matthews kicked Longford into a fourth-minute lead, only for Adrian Flynn to level for the visitors, who surprisingly started without Ben Brosnan. Shane Mulligan restored the home side’s advantage before Redmond Barry missed a chance to bring Wexford level from a ’45.
At the other end, Sean McCormack opened his account from a free and John Keegan followed up with another point to ease the midlanders into a 0-4 to 0-1 lead. Wexford ‘keeper Anthony Masterson was forced to save from McCormack as Longford threatened to run riot.
Ciaran Lyng grabbed Wexford’s second point before Barry Gilleran came up from full back to restore the home side’s four-point lead, 0-6 to 0-2, after 28 minutes. The Slaneysiders got to within two points thanks to efforts from James Holmes and Flynn, but Longford hit back with scores from McCormack (free) and Michael Brady to lead by double scores at the break.
Wexford had two bad wides on the resumption before PJ Banvillle scored the opening goal in the 39th minute to leave the minimum in it, 1-4 to 0-8. Banville swept the ball to the net after Longford goalkeeper Damien Sheridan could only parry Aindreas Doyle’s initial shot.
Sean McCormack and Paul Barden replied with scores for the home side before Ben Brosnan marked his arrival with a point. Two more McCormack points had Glenn Ryan’s side leading by 0-12 to 1-5 17 minutes into the second half, but Wexford refused to throw in the towel and hit back with their second goal from Daithi Waters in the 55th minute after the midfielder had been set up by Paddy Byrne.
Ben Brosnan struck the post, but Wexford didn’t have to wait long for the equalizing point from Aindreas Doyle in the 58th minute. Redmond Barry then gave the Model County the lead after Sheridan had saved again before Shane Mulligan leveled with his second point.
Daithai Waters put Wexford ahead as full time approached but Longford scored a long distance free before being denied another right on the final whistle. Their players approached the referee after he blew for full time and a draw and a melee broke out between the sets of players. This was well out of character for what was otherwise a well mannered game throughout. 2-8 to 0-14
When the team reemerged from the dressing rooms for extra time all was forgotten and the football broke out again. Wexford now took control and while it took almost 5 minutes to register a score they rattled off 4 on the trot with Longford replying with a point just before the break to leave the score 2-12 to 0-15.
We were in control for most of the remainder of the game, their fitness really showing. Ciaran Lyng had been substituted but came back on for Red Barry and kicked 2 points as Wexford looked class as the game finished 2-15 to 0-16.
The players will rest over the next few days but tomorrow evening the draw for Round 3 of the qualifiers will be made.
In the hat are Galway, Derry, Laois, Armagh, Tyrone, Cavan, Kildare and Wexford.
Games will be home or away (first out has home advantage) and will be played next Saturday July 20th and the winner of those game playing the following Saturday in Round 4 versus the provincial final losers.